Max Verstappen ended his championship weekend with a dominant win at the Qatar Grand Prix.
Verstappen started from pole position and his biggest challenge to the lead came on the first lap, when the Mercedes cars of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton each entered the corner in an attempt to overtake Verstappen. But Russell and Hamilton collided as Hamilton moved outside on the soft tire.
The contact knocked Hamilton out of the race and forced Russell back into the field during a bizarre grand prix session.
Sunday’s race is the first at Lusail since 2021 and tire manufacturer Pirelli has concerns about the combination of track surface and curbs relative to the integrity of the tyres. The FIA announced on Sunday morning that drivers will be limited to no more than 18 laps on a set of tyres, after imposing new track restrictions ahead of Saturday’s sprint to prevent drivers from going over certain curbs.
That makes the 57-lap race a minimum of three pit stops for each team. But that didn’t matter to Verstappen. No one can keep up.
McLaren’s Oscar Piastri finished second, with teammate Lando Norris third. Russell fought back to finish fourth, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished fifth. Leclerc was the only Ferrari in the race; Carlos Sainz was unable to start due to problems with his car’s fuel system.
The win was Verstappen’s 14th in the first 17 races of the season. He claimed his third consecutive Formula One title in the sprint race on Saturday after teammate Sergio Perez fell. Perez must win the sprint race and Verstappen must finish seventh or worse to keep the rest of the title race going into Sunday’s race.
If Perez somehow lets the title race last another day, Verstappen will easily seal victory on Sunday.
Unofficial match results
1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2. Oscar Piastri, McLaren
3. Lando Norris, McLaren
4. George Russell, Mercedes
5. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
6. Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
7. Esteban Ocon, Alps
8. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
9. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
10. Pierre Gasly, Alps
11. Sergio Perez, Red Bull
12. Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo
13. Alex Albon, Williams
14. Kevin Magnussen, Haas
15. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
16. Nico Hulkenberg, Haas
17. Liam Lawson, Alpha Taurus
uncategorized: Sergeant Logan, Williams; Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Domain name system: Carlos Sainz, Ferrari