In the midst of the sweltering and near oppressive night heat of the Qatar Grand Prix, Max Verstappen tactically managed the race, doing just enough to secure his 14th Grand Prix victory in a season marked by records. The anticipated challenge from the two Mercedes contenders, starting 2nd and 3rd on the grid, was expected to test Verstappen. However, before completing a single lap, the competition between Hamilton and Russell ended abruptly as they collided in the lead-up to turn one, removing themselves from the race.
Russell found himself sandwiched in a three-car tussle for the lead, even though his actual struggle was to maintain 2nd position. Hamilton sought to outmanoeuvre Russell, and despite holding a slender advantage heading into turn one, it failed to dissuade Russell from conceding ground. The collision between the two Mercedes drivers occurred swiftly, propelling them into a spin and off into the gravel pit, an incident that unfolded with remarkable speed and transpired in the blink of an eye.
Hamilton left the remnants of his car stranded in the gravel trap, while Russell, though metaphorically bruised, emerged unscathed and found himself at the back of the pack upon rejoining the race. Later, Hamilton took full responsibility for causing the collision. Meanwhile, at the front, Verstappen adeptly managed his pace. With the Mercedes now out of contention, the McLarens of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris smoothly assumed the remaining podium positions.
The race unfolded as a strategic contest centred around tire management. Prior to the F1 event, Pirelli, the official tire supplier, identified an anomaly in the construction of their tires. In adherence to safety regulations, all teams were compelled to adhere to a limit of 18 laps on each set of tires, adding an extra layer of complexity to the already challenging race dynamics.
As is often the case this season, Verstappen, true to form, delivered a near-faultless performance, securing yet another if enigmatic victory.
2023 Qatar Grand Prix: Race Result:
1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull 57 laps
2 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +4.833
3 Lando NORRIS McLaren +5.969
4 George RUSSELL Mercedes +34.119
5 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +38.976
6 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +49.032
7 Esteban OCON Alpine +62.390
8 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +66.563
9 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull +75.181
10 ZHOU Guanyu Alfa Romeo +76.127
11 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +81.652
12 Pierre GASLY Alpine +82.300
13 Alexander ALBON Williams +91.014
14 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas +1 lap
15 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +1 lap
16 Nico HULKENBERG Haas +1 lap
17 Liam LAWSON AlphaTauri +1 lap
18 Logan SARGEANT Williams DNF, illness
19 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes DNF, collision
20 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari DNS, fuel system leak