Max Verstappen dominated 2023 Qatar Grand Prix from lights to flag ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.
Verstappen led from lights to flag as Mercedes’ George Russell and Lewis Hamilton collided at Turn 1, which spun the latter out of the race and allowed McLaren’s Oscar Piastri to claim second which he held to the checkered flag as several drivers ran a three-stop strategy.
Lando Norris finished third for McLaren as Russell recovered to finish fourth at the checkered flag on a four-stop strategy, due to tyre concerns which mandatated 18-lap stints at maximum.
Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Valtteri Bottas, Guanyu Zhou and Sergio Perez.
In the drivers’ standings, Verstappen is already champion but his teammate, Perez extended his lead over Hamilton in their fight for second to 31 points.
Just hours before the race commenced, FIA and Pirelli agreed a mandatory 18-lap limit on tyre life across all sets, with the remaining tyre life of used tyres taken into consideration.
Stewards also iterated any driver found to exceed the mandatory tyre life on any set of tyres will be investigated for driving in an unsafe condition.
Perez meanwhile was forced to start from the pit lane after Red Bull were forced to build a second chassis overnight, due to irrepairable damage from his accident in the Sprint yesterday (7 October).
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who had qualified 12th didn’t even make the grid after a fuel system issue was discovered on his car, which led his car to be withdrawn from the race a hour before the start.
At lights out, Verstappen led Russell but Hamilton on the soft tyres had the ability to brake later round the outside of Turn 1, only to get tagged on his right-rear tyre by Russell and spun out which caused a safety car period.
The collision between Russell and Hamilton caught Alonso and Leclerc out which allowed Piastri to sneak through into second from sixth on the grid, as Ocon improved to fifth ahead of Norris who had made up four positions from tenth on the grid.
Bottas, Kevin Magnussen, Lance Stroll and Liam Lawson meanwhile pitted on Lap 4 which put them on an alternate four-stop strategy – alongside Russell who pitted on Lap 2, as racing resumed on Lap 5 with Russell sat 14th in the order.
Yuki Tsunoda lost eighth to Nico Hulknberg on Lap 6 but the latter got a 10 second time penalty after he incorrectly started 12th on the grid, in Sainz’s vacant grid slot.
Tsunoda became the first runner on the three-stop strategy to pit on Lap 10, which triggered a flurry of pit stops in the next nine laps, of which Verstappen again led Piastri after the first round of stops.
Verstappen went on to cruise to his 14th Grand Prix victory of the season ahead of Piastri as the pair headed the field once each of the last two rounds of pit stops were completed.
Alonso meanwhile found himself third after he made his first stop but he ran wide on Lap 33 at Turn 2, which conceded third to Norris as the Spainiard slipped to seventh but recovered to finish ….th.
On Lap 46, Norris got instructed to “hold position” behind Piastri to his bemusement which saw him cling onto third ahead of Russell who ran the final six laps on soft tyres.
Leclerc, Alonso, Ocon, Bottas, Zhou and Perez rounded out the top ten.
F1 now heads to Texas, Austin for 2023 US Grand Prix from 20-21 October.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||57||1h ..m …|
|2||Oscar Piastri||McLaren||57||+ 4.833|
|3||Lando Norris||McLaren||57||+ 5.969|
|4||George Russell||Mercedes||57||+ 34.119|
|5||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||57||+ 38.976|
|6||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||57||+ 49.032|
|7||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||57||+ 62.390|
|8||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||57||+ 66.563|
|9||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo||57||+ 76.127|
|10||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||57||+ 80.181|
|11||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||57||+ 81.652|
|12||Pierre Gasly||Alpine||57||+ 82.300|
|13||Alex Albon||Williams||57||+ 91.014|
|14||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||56||+ 1 Lap|
|15||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||56||+ 1 Lap|
|16||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas||56||+ 1 Lap|
|17||Liam Lawson||AlphaTauri||56||+ 1 Lap|