Oscar Piastri continued his fantastic rookie campaign in Formula 1 with a win in the F1 Sprint in Qatar, as Max Verstappen clinched his third straight driver’s championship. The win is McLaren’s first since Daniel Ricciardo won the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.
“A very stressful race,” an exuberant Piastri said. “When I saw all the soft [tire] guys come through at the start, I thought we were in a bit of trouble. Then their tires fell off pretty quickly, so yeah. That was good. Safety cars were my friend today, especially with Max behind me. But [our] pace was reasonable, especially in a race where you had to manage a lot.”
“It’s been an incredible year,” Verstappen mentioned in the post race podium interview. “Lot of great races. Super proud, but also super proud of the the job of the team. It’s so enjoyable to be part of that group of people. To be a three time world champion is just incredible.
“[…] We’ll keep on pushing [in the future], try to do the best we can. Today was an exciting race, it’s a bit of a shame with all of the safety cars. It was good, it was fun out there.”
“He drove a great race,” Verstappen mentioned in reference to Piastri. “It was not that easy as we were both on the medium tires, and there were some soft starters around us in the beginning with more grip. He did very well, I tried everything I could to catch up. We came up short in the end.”
On lap 11, an accident in turn 2 involving Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, and Nico Hulkenberg ended up taking all three drivers out. As Perez was the only driver who could mathematically pass Verstappen to win the championship, this clinched the title for the Dutchman.
Verstappen joined a very exclusive club of three time champions, which consists of Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, and Ayrton Senna. Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel rank ahead of those six with four, Juan Manuel Fangio is above both of them with five, and both Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton lead the list with seven apiece.
George Russell muscled past Piastri on a lap three restart with his soft compound tires. But by lap 11, Russell was struggling on the soft tires and lost the lead to Piastri and his medium tires.
Verstappen was able to work his way past Russell to take second, but couldn’t make up the time to close in to contend for the win. Lando Norris finished third.
Russell and Hamilton brought fourth and fifth home for Mercedes, followed by Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in sixth and seventh. Alex Albon was able to outduel Fernando Alonso for the final point in eighth.
Liam Lawson spun out in turn two and was stuck in the sand trap, bringing out a safety car on the very first lap. Lawson’s first Sprint start ended after two corners.
After that safety car came in, Logan Sargeant spun out by himself in turn 9 and was also beached in the gravel, bringing out yet another safety car on lap four.
A third safety car would come out for the lap 11 incident, setting up one last sprint within the Sprint.
The final event of the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix weekend will come on Sunday, Oct. 8. Lights out for the feature race will come at 1 p.m. ET, with coverage on ESPN.
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.
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