Back-to-back victories move defending champion within eight points of Verstappen.
Lewis Hamilton achieved an emphatic victory from pole at the first Qatar Formula One Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen recovered well from a grid penalty to finish second, but had his Formula One championship lead reduced to eight points by Hamilton on Sunday.
Back-to-back victories for defending and seven-time champions Hamilton in Brazil and Qatar moved him within eight points with two races left.
Hamilton claimed his seventh season victory and 102nd overall ahead of Verstappen at the illuminated Losail International Circuit where his Mercedes was already better than Verstappen’s Red Bull in qualifying.
“We needed those points today. “I can’t wait to watch the race replay to find out what happened behind me,” he said.
“I am really grateful for these points, it was a hell of a year. Back-to-back wins. I feel good, I feel fit, fitter than I have ever felt. Bring the next two, ”Hamilton added.
Verstappen, who got a bonus point for the fastest lap, was hit earlier Sunday with a five-place grid penalty and Bottas lost three shortly before the start as stewards decided both ignored yellow flags in the qualifiers – which Verstappen of dropped second to seventh and Bottas, who did not finish, from third to sixth.
“Our starting position was compromised, but fortunately we had a very good start,” Verstappen said.
“Of course I know it will be difficult until the end, but it keeps it fun, it keeps it exciting. This track was also fun to drive. I feel good, but it will be a fierce battle to the end. “
Double world champion Fernando Alonso was third for Alpine owned by Renault, the 40-year-old Spaniard’s first podium place since 2014.
Sergio Perez finished fourth to help Red Bull beat Mercedes for the Builders Championship.