The title is Verstappen’s third in a row, and was granted even before Sunday’s main race thanks to the outcome of Saturday’s Sprint race. Verstappen finished second to McLaren’s Oscar Piastri in the Sprint race, which scored him enough points to leave an unbeatable gap with his only challenge this season, fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez who retired from the race.
Despite already having the title under his belt, Verstappen didn’t ease off the gas come Sunday’s main race. He cruised to victory, meaning he’s now won 14 of 17 races held so far this season, or one less than his own record of 15 wins in a single season set last year—a record that’s likely to fall considering that five races remain on the calendar.
Verstappen was on pole for the start of the race, with Mercedes-Benz AMG’s George Russell also at the front of the grid. Before the start, the FIA, in response to degradation issues with Pirelli’s tires earlier in the weekend, mandated that drivers couldn’t make more than 18 laps on a set of tires, meaning everyone needed a minimum of three pit stops for the 57-lap race.
Despite the chance for a slip-up, Verstappen’s changes all went smoothly, and though he cycled in and out of the lead through his multiple stints, he remained in control and finished the race close to five seconds ahead of Piastri who was also impressive throughout the weekend. Fellow McLaren driver Lando Norris finished third, close to six seconds behind Verstappen.
There was drama elsewhere, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton coming into contact with Russell in the race’s opening. Hamilton lost a wheel and slid off track and out of the race. Russell was forced to pit for damage checks and dropped to the back of the field, though he managed to recover somewhat.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was ruled out of the race due to a fuel system problem developing on his car that could not be resolved in time. AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo also sat out yet another race due to his ongoing wrist injury, providing reserve driver Liam Lawson with another stint behind the wheel.
Following the weekend’s action, Verstappen’s points tally in the 2023 Drivers’ Championship now stands at 433 points. Perez is second with 194 points and Hamilton is third with 194 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull was named the title winner at the previous round in Japan thanks to its 623 points. Mercedes is second with 305 points and Ferrari is third with 285 points. The next race on the calendar is the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas on Oct. 22.
Below are the full results from the 2023 Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix:
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
2) Oscar Piastri, McLaren +4.833 seconds
3) Lando Norris, McLaren +5.969 seconds
4) George Russell, Mercedes-Benz AMG +34.119 seconds
5) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari +38.976 seconds
6) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin +49.032 seconds
7) Esteban Ocon, Alpine +62.390 seconds
8) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo +66.563 seconds
9) Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo +76.127 seconds
10) Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing +80.181 seconds
11) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin +81.652 seconds
12) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri +82.300 seconds
13) Alexander Albon, Williams + 91.014 seconds
14) Kevin Magnussen, Haas +1 lap
15) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri +1 lap
16) Nico Hulkenberg, Haas +1 lap
17) Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri +1 lap
NC) Logan Sargeant, Williams – DNF
NC) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz AMG – DNF
NC) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari – DNS
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