Race Report: Verstappen wins Qatar GP

LUSAIL CITY, QATAR - OCTOBER 08: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing, Second placed Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren, Third placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren and Red Bull Racing race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Qatar at Lusail International Circuit on October 08, 2023 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202310080518 // Usage for editorial use only //

Max Verstappen adds to his championship-winning weekend with a win at the Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix. Having secured his third championship on Saturday, Max and Red Bull cruised to victory in the seething night heat of Qatar ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.

The race was a hectic affair with oppressive heat, humidity and a last-minute regulation change with re-profiled corners and requiring teams to run no more than 18 laps on a new set of tires due to concerns over the safety of the tire on the seated curbs. This caused a lot of knock-on issues like busier than usual pit lane, strategy thrown out the window and more.

Win

A big win for Red Bull and Max Verstappen who clinched both driver and constructor titles with six races remaining in the 2023 season. Max had a good weekend made better with victory in the race with a measured and fast drive to first. The team continue to work in perfection and they have achieved a lot this season with lots more to potentially come.

A win for McLaren who have turned their season completely around with a double podium finish, Sprint race win and massive haul of points. This moves them even closer to Aston Martin in the challenge for 4th place in the constructor’s championship. A great in-season recovery and hats off to the men and women in Woking who have managed to turn it all around.

A win for George Russell who collided with his teammate Lewis Hamilton on the first lap only to recover to 4th place. He had a very spirited drive back through the field even with limited tire options due to the 18-lap rule. A good recovery result for George.

A big win for Alfa Romeo with both Valtteri Bottas and Zho Guanyu scoring 8th and 9th respectively for a dual-points finish. This moves them ahead of Haas F1 in the constructor’s championship and that’s worth $10M if they can keep that spot.

Fail

A fail for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton who collided with his teammate, George Russell, on the first lap. Lewis tried a move on the outside that left George sandwiched and he didn’t pull the move off. It’s lost points and given George’s pace, they may have made it a real battle with McLaren for a podium.

A fail for Sergio Perez who had two 5s penalties for breaching track limits too many times. In Red Bull’s effort to finish 1, 2 int he driver’s championship, he’s not helping them do that. Like Aston Martin, Red Bull is bleeding points at the stage.

A fail for Ferrari and Carlos Sainz who had a fuel system issues that prompted a DNS and that’s a shame given Carlos’s form since the summer break.

A fail for Pirelli who brought a tire not fit for purpose prompting a complete change of the regulations in order to achieve a safety window they were comfortable with. The change neutered the race of any strategy advantages as well as re-profiled corners leading to more track limit infringements. No one watches F1 to focus on tires and track limits.

WTH

Whoa, what happened to Logan Sergeant, I hope he’s ok and just dehydrated.

What is going on with Lance Stroll? Shoving his team members, running off the pace and struggling so much. Lance, Sergio and Logan all need to have a chat with F1 and spend some time working on their head space. This is where sports psychologists are a good idea. F1 is a pressure cooker and these guys are really struggling of late.

You know, I get it that some countries in the Middle East don’t allow alcohol but could they at least put a ton of carbonation in those bottle of fruit juice to make it like champagne so we can have a proper podium celebration? Heck, just use carbonated water for crying out loud!

How is it that Pirelli and the track never got together to determine the curb issues? They know the track was re-paved and surely they had time to visit. When Emilia Romagna was canceled? Maybe they should have went there to take a look? People said it reminded them of Indy 2005 but that was different, this reminds me of when Pirelli brought the self delaminating tires to the British GP. That was a dumpster fire.

Pirelli Report:

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.

Qatar GP Results:

POSNODRIVERCARLAPSTIME/RETIREDPTS
11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT571:27:39.1680
281Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES57+4.833s0
34Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES57+5.969s0
463George RussellMERCEDES57+34.119s0
516Charles LeclercFERRARI57+38.976s0
614Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES57+49.032s0
731Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT57+62.390s0
877Valtteri BottasALFA ROMEO FERRARI57+66.563s0
924Zhou GuanyuALFA ROMEO FERRARI57+76.127s0
1011Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT57+80.181s0
1118Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES57+81.652s0
1210Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT57+82.300s0
1323Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES57+91.014s0
1420Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI56+1 lap0
1522Yuki TsunodaALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT56+1 lap0
1627Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI56+1 lap0
1740Liam LawsonALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT56+1 lap0
NC2Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES40DNF0
NC44Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES0DNF0
NC55Carlos SainzFERRARI0DNF0
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race
race-report-verstappen-wins-qatar-gpTires and track limits...exciting. The amount of passing and pit stops did add activity but I' not sure it was "excitement".
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Fabio

I thought the race was pretty good actually, maybe because Piastri was doing well.
Kind of reminded me of when we didn’t have the stupid HD tyres, you know, when drivers could actually go for it and race the car to the limit (ah the good ol’ days).

p.s. Perez had 3 track penalties.