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Max Verstappen survived the 32°C heat of the desert to triumph for the 14th time this season. In a very demanding race, which saw a mandatory 17-lap pit window established before the race due to tyre concerns, the newly-crowned three-time champion won from McLaren pair Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.
F1 Qatar GP results: Who won the race?
Max Verstappen comfortably won the Qatar GP, in what was arguably the mst physically-demanding GP of the season. The Dutchman ran a troublefree race, easily navigating around the mandatory pit windows to secure a hat-trick – pole, win and the fastest lap. Following an opening lap crash between Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, McLaren scored a second consecutive double podium, with Oscar Piastri ahead of Lando Norris this time.
Mercedes collide on turn 1, Piastri moves up to second
Carlos Sainz Jr. did not take the start, courtsey of a fuel leak issue in his SF23.
Hamilton, the only soft-shod driver among the front starters, tried to take advantage of his tyres with a bold move around the outside of turn 1. Mercedes teammate Russell maintained his rightful spot down the inside. Hamilton aggressively went for the apex, leaving no room for Russell. The pair collided, sending the seven-time champion into a spin and out on the spot.
The crash triggered the safety car. Piastri, who took advantage of the Mercedes kerfuffle, found a free lane down the inside and jumped to second. Fernando Alonso had to brake to avoid running into Russell’s rear, but still managed to move into third place.
Norris and Russell climb up the field
Alonso was the first driver to pit, diving in on lap 12. Piastri did the same a lap later, responding to Aston Martin’s attempt at an undercut.
Verstappen, who had been running his own race, pitted right at the end of the mandatory pit window, at the start of lap 18. The early SC shuffled the order slightly, with Piastri and Alonso emerging behind Zhou Guanyu, Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll, who were all running on an alternate strategy.
Verstappen found himself briefly in second place, behind Alexander Albon. But once the Williams driver pitted, a lap later, the three-time champion regained the lead.
Further down the order, Norris and Russell were slowly making their way up the order. Norris, who had started from the 10th slot, climbed all the way up to fourth, getting around Charles Leclerc. Russell, meanwhile, set off on a charge following his opening lap collision and made his way back to sixth place.
Verstappen controls the race, Norris gets on the podium
Piastri was the first driver to dive in for the second pit stop, doing so at the start of lap 26. Alonso and Norris followed in over the next two laps. The McLaren driver leapfrogged his former teammate for what was effectively third place.
Russell, running another long stint on the hard tyres, pitted at the start of lap 33. The sole remaining Mercedes driver made his way up to fourth place, also jumping Alonso and Leclerc in the pits. Later that same lap, Alonso made a rare mistake and ran wide at turn 2, losing another spot to Leclerc in the process.
Verstappen made the second of his three mandatory stops on lap 35. The three-time champion had a big enough gap over Piastri to reemerge ahead of the Australian rookie.
On lap 40, Logan Sargeant pulled into the garage due to his worsening physical condition. The Williams driver had been dealing with an unspecified illness, and ultimately decided to folllow his team’s advice to retire.
Piastri and Norris went for their final mandatory stop on laps 45 and 46, respectively. Verstappen did the same on lap 47, and reemerged comfortably ahead of the McLarens despite having a slightly slower 4.1s stop. The Dutchman took the checkered with a 5.5s margin over Piastri, who edged Norris by over 1s.
Speaking of Perez, the points runner-up enjoyed another miserable raceday. The Mexican started the race from the pits and carrying a 10-second penalty, since Red Bull had to violate parc-ferme regulations to rebuild his car following a crash in the sprint race. He then picked another two five-second penalties for track limits. Perez was one of multiple drivers to pick up penalties, the list also including Pierre Gasly, Albon, and Stroll.
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