On the weekend where he was crowned a three-time world champion Max Verstappen took yet another dominant victory at the 2023 Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix, leading home the McLarens of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.
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Hamilton and Russell went wheel-to-wheel moments after the lights went out at the Lusail International Circuit, the seven-time world champion attempting to go around the outside of his teammate through Turn 1, only for the duo to make contact in the bottleneck dramatically.
With Hamilton out of the race on the spot and Russell forced to pit for a new front wing at the end of the opening lap, two of Verstappen’s main rivals had already fallen by the wayside, and the now triple world champion never looked back, romping to win number 14 of 2023
McLaren backed up an impressive Sprint race display as Piastri and Norris came home second and third, respectively, for another double podium finish, rising from their P6 and P10 grid slots after losing lap times over track limits violations in qualifying.
Russell put in a fine recovery drive to take fourth at the chequered flag, getting the better of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, who was hindered by an off-track excursion and an overheating seat.
Esteban Ocon came home seventh for Alpine, while Alfa Romeo logged their first double points finish of the season as Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu took P8 and P9 ahead of the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
Perez made the points despite starting from the pit lane thanks to major car changes in the wake of his Sprint race accident and an action-packed evening that saw him pick up three penalties for exceeding track limits.
Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) had crossed the line in the points-paying positions but dropped to 11th after the chequered flag for his own track limits violation, with Pierre Gasly (Alpine) and Alex Albon (Williams) also penalised in P12 and P13.
Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg and AlphaTauri pair Yuki Tsunoda and Liam Lawson were the final drivers to make it to the finish in a race that saw the entire field complete at least three pit stops due to tyre-related safety measures.
Hamilton watched from the sidelines following his clash with Russell, while Logan Sargeant retired in the other Williams during the closing stages after reporting that he was feeling unwell at the wheel amid the intense heat.
Before the race had even started, Carlos Sainz was ruled out of proceedings due to a fuel system problem developing on his car that could not be resolved in time, meaning Leclerc was the sole Ferrari driver in action.
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director, Pirelli:
This was a very demanding weekend on many fronts, which ended with a race that, given the circumstances, was interesting and closely contested. The committed and transparent collaboration between all of Formula 1’s stakeholders – the FIA, Formula 1, the teams and drivers – meant that there was a rapid and efficient reaction to solving a safety issue that involved us first-hand. Today, the sport is able to put on an interesting show for the spectators with a lot of overtaking and duels, despite the limitations imposed by the FIA. In the coming weeks, we will continue to analyse the tyres used this weekend to acquire as much information as possible and share that with the FIA.
From what we saw this evening, graining was a very significant factor with all the compounds. Its severity gradually decreased as the track rubbered in. Today the wind was much weaker than in the past days, which reduced the amount of sand and dust blown onto the track surface, even if it did not disappear completely. Thermal degradation also had an effect on tyre performance, with track temperatures never dropping below 36 °C.
How the race was won from the tyre point of view:
At the start of the day, the FIA decided to impose a maximum limit of 18 on the number of laps that could be completed by any set of tyres in the race. Earlier, Pirelli had presented the FIA with the findings of the analysis of the tyre sets returned by the teams yesterday, which showed there was not a significant enough reduction in the possibility of micro tears in the sidewall between the topping compound and the carcass cords because of the impact generated from repeatedly driving over the kerbs at some corners, as a result of measures introduced before the Sprint Shootout. This meant that three pit stops would be required for a driver to complete the 57 laps race distance.
For the start, the majority of drivers went with the Medium. The exceptions were Hamilton, Bottas, Magnussen and Lawson, who preferred to start on the Soft, while Perez, starting from pit lane, fitted a set of Hard. As expected, the C3 was only chosen by those who were looking to make up places at the start or in the closing stages of the race when the fuel load would be lower.
Formula 1 returns to the Americas on 20 October, with the United States Grand Prix being held in Austin on 22 October. The next weekend (27-29 October), the season moves on to Mexico City, and finally, the week after that, it’s the Sao Paulo Grand Prix (3-5 November). The Texas event again runs to the Sprint format, and the teams will be supplied with the C2 compound as P Zero White hard, C3 as P Zero Yellow medium and C4 as P Zero Red soft.
2023 Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix Race Results
|1.||1||Max Verstappen||Netherlands||Red Bull Racing||1:27:39.168||26||433|
|2.||81||Oscar Piastri||Australia||McLaren Racing||+4.833s||18||83|
|3.||4||Lando Norris||Great Britain||Mclaren Racing||+5.969s||15||136|
|4.||63||George Russell||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+34.119s||12||132|
|5.||16||Charles Leclerc||Monaco||Scuderia Ferrari||+38.976s||10||145|
|6.||14||Fernando Alonso||Spain||Aston Martin F1 Team||+49.032s||8||183|
|7.||31||Esteban Ocon||France||Alpine F1 Team||+62.390s||6||44|
|8.||77||Valtteri Bottas||Finland||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+66.563s||4||10|
|9.||24||Zhou Guanyu||China||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+76.127s||2||6|
|10.||11||Sergio Perez||Mexico||Red Bull Racing||+80.181s||1||224|
|11.||18||Lance Stroll||Canada||Aston Martin F1 Team||+81.652s||0||47|
|12.||10||Pierre Gasly||France||Alpine F1 Team||+82.300s||0||46|
|13.||45||Alexander Albon||Thailand||Williams Racing||+91.014s||0||23|
|14.||20||Kevin Magnussen||Denmark||Haas F1 Team||+1 lap||0||3|
|15.||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Japan||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+1 lap||0||3|
|16.||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Germany||Haas F1 Team||+1 lap||0||9|
|17.||40||Liam Lawson||New Zealand||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+1 lap||0||2|
|18.||2||Logan Sargeant||USA||Williams Racing||DNF||0||0|
|19.||44||Lewis Hamilton||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||DNF||0||194|
|20.||55||Carlos Sainz||Spain||Scuderia Ferrari||DNS||0||153|
2023 Constructor Standings
|1.||Red Bull Racing||860|
|2.||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||409|
|5.||Aston Martin F1 Team||280|
|6.||Alpine F1 Team||120|
|8.||Alfa Romeo Racing||16|
|10.||Haas F1 Team||12|