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Hamilton wins in Qatar to cut Verstappen’s lead to eight points

Lewis Hamilton has inched closer to the Formula One championship lead with a dominating victory in the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix.

Sunday’s was the second consecutive win for Hamilton, who has trimmed 17 points from Max Verstappen’s lead in the title race in a week.

Verstappen still holds an eight-point lead with two races remaining in one of the most dramatic F1 title fights in at least a decade.

The seven-time champion started from pole for Mercedes and was never challenged on the Losail International Circuit as Hamilton won his 102nd career race.

It was his seventh victory of the season.

Verstappen penalised

Verstappen was hit with a penalty before the race even began when he was dropped five spots on the starting grid for violating a yellow flag in Saturday’s qualifying.

Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz were also accused of not following yellow flag rules near the end of qualifying. Bottas, who had qualified third, was penalised three starting sports. Sainz was not penalised.

Red Bull was mystified by the grid penalty for Verstappen, who lost any chance to challenge Hamilton for the win when he was penalised.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner said Verstappen did not see the yellow flag when it was displayed for Pierre Gasly’s punctured tire late in qualifying.

“We’re really struggling to understand it,” Horner said. “That’s a crucial blow in this world championship for us. We’re now starting P7, that is massive.”

Despite the penalty, Verstappen needed only five laps to recover and drive back to where he was originally slated to start. But he still finished 25 seconds behind Hamilton in second.

READ MORE: Hamilton hit with 10-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Turkish GP

READ MORE: Mercedes’ Hamilton wins 100th F1 Grand Prix

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