Race Weekend Central

Max Verstappen Speeds to Qatar Grand Prix Victory

After clinching his third straight Formula 1 championship in the F1 Sprint race on Saturday (Oct. 7), Max Verstappen dominated from the pole to win the Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday, Oct. 8.

McLaren came home with another double podium, as F1 Sprint winner Oscar Piastri finished second and Lando Norris came home third. With that, McLaren eclipsed 500 podiums in its history.

See also
Oscar Piastri Breaks Through With F1 Sprint Win as Max Verstappen Clinches Championship

“What made the race was my first stint,” Verstappen said after the race. “After that, I could just manage my pace, making sure that the tires were always in a good window. But the McLarens were quick again. I had to push for it. It was definitely a tough race out there.”

George Russell finished fourth, followed by Charles Leclerc in fifth. Fernando Alonso took home sixth, Esteban Ocon finished seventh. Valterri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu finished eighth and ninth, resulting in a double points day for Alfa Romeo, while Sergio Perez scored the last point in 10th.

There were several storylines to watch entering the race. Most notably, Pirelli required teams to run stints no longer than 18 laps on a set of tires due to safety concerns, meaning the race was at least a three-stop strategy for the field.

Only 19 cars took the formation lap and lined up on the grid – Carlos Sainz did not participate in the race due to an oil leak on his Ferrari. That left Sainz’s 12th-place spot open on the starting grid. Nico Hulkenburg, slated to start 14th, accidentally assumed the grid spot, incurring a 10-second penalty from the FIA stewards for starting in the wrong grid position.

The safety car came out immediately on lap 1 after Lewis Hamilton tried to pass Mercedes teammate Russell on the outside in turn 1. The two made contact and both spun out. Hamilton was forced to retire from the race.

Hamilton originally claimed that he was taken out by Russell, but changed his mind and took full responsibility once he saw a replay and gathered his thoughts.

After the safety car pulled in on lap 5, the race went green to the finish, but it wasn’t without its moments. Several drivers were hit with five-second penalties for exceeding track limits, including Perez, Lance Stroll, Alex Albon, and Pierre Gasly. At least Perez and Gasly were penalized twice.

Another prevalent issue in the race was the heat. Several drivers complained about the heat throughout the race. Perhaps most vocally, Alonso requested that his Aston Martin team throw water at him during a pit stop, as his seat began to get really hot.

Logan Sargeant became the third driver to retire from the race on lap 42. The grueling heat and elements of the race caused Sargeant to fall physically unwell. He was able to get out of the car under his own power once his team pushed his Williams back to the garage.

At one point, an onboard of Russell showed the Brit driving with his wrists on the frontstretch in an attempt to cool his hands. After the race, Ocon told his team on the radio that he threw up in the car on lap 15. Stroll and Albon both struggled to exit their cars as well. They were both seen by the FIA medical delegate after the race.

Meanwhile, the three podium finishers were quick to pull their firesuits off after the race. Additionally, Verstappen and Piastri laid on the ground in the cool down room to continue to catch their breath.

“Definitely the hardest race of my life,” Piastri said of the heat after the race. “With the three stops, it was basically flat out. So it was basically 57 qualifying laps, which I definitely feel like I’ve done.”

2023 F1 Qatar Grand Prix Results

F1 has another off-week before heading to the United States, where Circuit of the Americas awaits. The Lenovo United States Grand Prix will begin at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 22. The broadcast will be carried by ESPN.

About the author

Frontstretch.com

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. 

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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