Lewis Hamilton took a commanding pole position at the first ever Qatar Grand Prix after working long into the night to get the upper hand in his quest to get the better of Max Verstappen and lift an eighth Formula One world title.

The reigning champion is currently 14 points behind the Dutchman in the drivers’ championship but won in Brazil last weekend and had the beating of the Red Bull around the Lusail International Circuit.

With Mercedes showing their pace advantage in Saturday’s final practice session, Hamilton would storm to pole under the lights in Doha with a time of one minute 20.827 – almost half a second faster than his main title protagonist, with Verstappen starting second.

“Yesterday was a really difficult day for me – I really struggled through that practice yesterday,” Hamilton admitted.

“I was here until midnight last night working with the engineers and found a little variation where I could improve, made some changes for third practice and it worked but – then you have to carry that through to qualifying.

“That last lap was beautiful, it is an amazing track to drive and it felt good.

“I had a bit of a stomach ache from Wednesday but I slept really well last night and that made a bit of a difference.”