Lewis Hamilton took pole at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, increasing his chances of capturing a record eighth Formula One World title.

Max Verstappen, the championship leader, was third fastest in Red Bull after hitting a wall at the last corner of his last flying lap around the Jeddah street circuit. He appeared to be poised to comfortably unseated his rival for the top spot.

Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, was second. They will share the front row Sunday.

“What a difficult track! Hamilton said that it was amazing to see what they have done, and that the speed and pace around here are phenomenal.

“It’s an excellent result for the team, and a great job done by Valtteri — He’s the greatest teammate that’s ever existed in this sport.”

It was Hamilton’s fifth pole and the 103rd pole of his career. He has now surpassed Verstappen in the championship race with consecutive wins in Brazil, Qatar and Brazil.

Hamilton is still in second place with eight points, Verstappen has the lead. Hamilton is sixth. Verstappen can win his first title at the world championship on Sunday if Verstappen wins the race, and Hamilton finishes outside of the top six.

If so, the title fight for 2021 will be decided in Abu Dhabi next weekend.

Verstappen stated, “It’s obviously terrible.”

He said, “I don’t really know what happened.” I was able to lock the car, but I tried to keep it on the track. I tried to complete the lap but clipped the rear and had the car to stop. Knowing what lap I was on, P3 is somewhat disappointing.

Verstappen was immediately stopped and could still be subject to a grid penalty should significant parts of the car need to be replaced.

When asked about possible damage, he replied: “I don’t know. I meant, I stopped immediately, so let’s check.”

The top five finishers for Sunday’s race in the Red Bull were Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc from Ferrari, as well as Sergio Perez of Red Bull in the second Red Bull.

Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), Lando norris (McLaren), Yuki Tusunoda, Esteban Ocon and Antonio Giovinazzi are the other top 10.

Daniel Ricciardo’s second McLaren was even more disappointed, failing to make the top ten by five hundredths. The McLarens had a significant lack of pace but they will be boosted in the constructors championship fight with Ferrari. Carlos Sainz spun in Q2 and finished just 15th.

Hamilton, seven-time champion, was able to secure pole. After being summoned for failing to slow down under double-waved yellow flags and blocking the Haas Of Nikita Mazepin, Hamilton was exempted from a sanction.

After the Mercedes Star was cleared of any wrongdoing, the stewards admitted that the yellow light panel with double-waves had been accidentally activated.

Mercedes was fined 25,000 Euros for the second offense.

Verstappen received a penalty of five places on the grid for not following double-waved yellow flags last month during Qatar Grand Prix qualifying.