The seven-time world champion was uncharacteristically off the pace throughout Friday practice but turned things around in qualifying to fly to a commanding fourth pole of the season at Losail. 

Hamilton was 0.455s clear of title rival Max Verstappen, who holds a 14-point advantage in the championship heading into the final three races. 

Speaking in parc ferme after qualifying, Hamilton revealed he had been feeling unwell since he arrived in Qatar. 

"Yesterday was a really difficult day for me actually, Thursday and Friday wasn't feeling too well," Hamilton explained. 

"And so really struggled through throughout practice and I was just off [the pace] yesterday, so really had to dig deep. 

"I was here until midnight last night working with the engineers, who also always work so late, they're such hard workers, and found a lot of areas which I could improve.

"Made a lot of changes for P3 and it seemed to work. Then of course you've got to carry that through to qualifying, but I'm so grateful for the timings they put us out on track, we didn't have any traffic and then that last lap was beautiful. It was a really sweet lap.”

Asked what exactly was wrong, Hamilton said: "I had a bit of a stomach ache from Wednesday but felt fantastic today. I slept well last night so that makes a big difference.

“This track is amazing to drive, incredibly fast on medium and high-speed corners. But it felt good.”