With a P2 in the Sprint race on Saturday, Max Verstappen has been crowned as a 3x World Champion in the Qatar GP.
The return of the Qatar GP brought expectations to be high. With many teams and drivers fighting for second and third in the constructors and drivers championships this was bound to have action. This was one of the races featuring the New Sprint Race format.
Only having one practice session before qualifying teams had to be quick to plan their strategy. In qualifying we saw Lance Stroll frustrated after exiting, once again, in Q1. Carlos Sainz had a very bad run in Q2 and Sergio Perez got his passing lap time deleted. The finished P12 and P13 respectively. Max Verstappen set the faster time with only one lap in Q3. Lando Norris managed to get the P2 but then got his time deleted due to track limits. With his teammate out of the top three Oscard Piastri was promoted to the P3 position only to be informed during his interview that he had his lap time deleted as well. A very chaotic qualifying session in the Qatar GP. Yet another mess thanks to track limits.
Moving on to Saturday, the sprint shootout was done quickly as per usual, but with more track limits controversy. Piastri managed to get P1 in the shootout. A couple hours after the Sprint Race was on its way. An early safety car made the race even shorter. With a few laps after the end of the safety car, a three-way collision caused by Esteban Ocon got Sergio Perez to DNF with a massive hole in his left side pot. Piastri managed to maintain the lead of the race just into the end and won his first F1 race. Max Verstappen finished P2 and that was more than enough to get him his third World Championship.
Extreme heat was affecting all the drivers on the grid. Due to the lack of tiers and the high degradation of the circuit, the FIA imposed that the maximum age a tier could have was 18 laps before needing to be changed. This forced teams to change their strategies and, as well, created many pit stops.
Carlos Sainz had to miss the race after a fuel leak problem made it impossible for him to even start the race. This was a big blow for Ferrari’s race for second place, however, little did they know that just in the first lap Lewis Hamilton was going to close into his teammate and end his race and send Russell to last.
Logan Sargent had to retire from the race after the weather conditions affected him severely. A very bad news for someone looking to keep his seat in F1 for next year.
The race had a lot of action however Max was almost entirely alone in the front. Track limits sanctions affected almost everyone on the grid. Both McLarens fought hard and it paid off as they got their second straight double podium for the first time since 2010. Max Verstappen won the race with time to spare, once again.
Lando Norris claimed in a post-race interview with DAZN that many of the pilots had fainted in the medical center after the race. This is something the FIA should look into since it’s a risk for the drivers.
Will Lando Norris be able to win his first race in F1 with McLaren?