QATAR GP – Oscar Piastri coverts pole into sprint win, as Max Verstappen crowned three-time champion with Sergio Perez crashing out!
Oscar Piastri has taken his maiden win in Formula One beating three-time champion Max Verstappen in the sprint race at the Qatar Grand Prix. Verstappen was crowned after his teammate Sergio Perez crashed out in a three-car collision at the halfway stage, in a frantic sprint race in Lusail.
Piastri’s first F1 victory and pole, confirmed the Australian as a major star of the future as his impressive rookie season goes from strength to strength. The last driver to take maiden pole and maiden victory consecutively for McLaren was Lewis Hamilton in his first season in Montreal in 2007
Three safety cars triggered by a series of accidents and collisions created a dramatic spectacle under the lights at the Lusail circuit won by McLaren’s Oscar Piastri.
Verstappen was handed the title on lap eleven when teammate Perez crashed out on lap eleven he then sat behind Piastri for the rest of the race. Piastri converted pole into the lead after the Dutchman and McLaren teammate Lando Norris he became the first driver to win a championship on a Saturday since his girlfriend’s father Nelson Piquet Sr.
Verstappen finished six seconds ahead of Norris as McLaren looks to continue its recovery from its difficult start to being one of Red Bull’s closest challengers in the second half of the season. Norris passed George Russell late on to take third in what was another dramatic and frantic sprint.
Going into the weekend, Verstappen had to beat Perez by five points in either the sprint or Grand Prix, but the Mexican’s collision rendered the maths pointless as all Verstappen needed to do was finish where he was. Aside from the most important element of all, the 19-lap race was about as dramatic as it could have been.
It wasn’t a case of Verstappen sitting tight he had lost out at the start dropping back to sixth, thanks to a poor start. However the pace advantage saw him claim back two places, the pace advantage seen at so many races this season saw Verstappen come through and luck one again on his side.
Though fifth was good enough for him to take the title. Norris had a similar drive to the three-time champion as he made up places after dropping down at the start.
Verstappen said, “Been an incredible year. Lots of great races, super proud of the job from the team. It’s been so enjoyable to be part of that group of people. To be a three-time world champion is just incredible. We will keep on pushing, doing the best we can.”
The defining moment in the race, which allowed Verstappen to take the title came on lap eleven. Fighting for position with Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon they all converged as Ocon tried to get past Hulkenberg but made contact starting the domino effect on Perez. That caused all three to retire and thus gave Verstappen the title with five Grands Prix and two sprints remaining.
When the safety car came out Verstappen was fourth, following the final restart he passed Norris then Russell. But despite setting two fastest laps was unable to catch Piastri, who crossed the line 1.8 seconds ahead. But as Verstappen set his sights on the top two, that was when he sealed the title as Perez crashed.
Following the restart only five laps remained, which was enough time for Verstappen to cruise past Russell, but not to mount a challenge to the composed Piastri.
At the restart, Russell tried to pass Norris and Verstappen when Liam Lawson lost control of his Alpha Tauri at Turn Two, on the mediums he tried to pass Piastri. Than was when Logan Sargent also spun off and became beached in the gravel, both incidents triggering a safety car.
Russell was effectively a sitting duck as the tyres let go and while he could of gambled on a pit stop, he was told they would score no points if he made it. But his fears were realised as first Verstappen passed him and then Norris did so, too.
Russell was fourth finishing six seconds ahead of Mercedes teammate Hamilton. A decent recovery from Hamilton after he was knocked out in SQ2 and started twelve, the seven-time champion also a big gainer in the Ocon-Hulkenberg-Perez shunt happening just in front of him and the Ferrari drivers fading in the final laps.
Both Ferrari’s were passed by Verstappen during the first two laps following the first safety car. Sainz fought hard to hold off teammate Leclerc after both were passed by the Mercedes, which meant Ferrari allowed Mercedes to close the championship battle for second place in the constructors’ championship.
During the final safety car, Russell was pleading for a pit stop for fresh tyres but was told they would score no points if he made it. But his fears were realised as first Verstappen passed him and then Norris did so, too.
Hamilton was behind the trio as they collided and along with Carlos. Sainz and Charles Leclerc gained positions and points following the shunt. Alex Albon made gains in the latter part of the sprint to finish eighth, over a second ahead of Fernando Alonso.
Albon started the race seventeenth on the medium tyres he soon made up places and passed both Alonso who was on the softs to finish eighth. Leclerc was later given a five second penalty for leaving the track multiple times, demoting him twelfth.
But the sprint showed that the soft tyres weren’t working as both Alonso and Pierre Gasly dropped away giving further evidence that the Grand Prix will need multiple pit stops as they finished ninth and tenth.
Valtteri Bottas was eleventh finishing half a second ahead of Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll. Kevin Magnussen was fourteenth finishing ahead of Guanyu Zhou as they were the final finishers in the sprint.
- QATAR GP – Sprint Qualifying Result
- QATAR GP – Oscar Piastri beats Lando Norris to sprint pole taking a maiden pole by nine hundredths