Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Losail International Circuit, 2023

Verstappen wins ahead of McLaren pair after Hamilton and Russell collide

Formula 1

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Max Verstappen celebrated becoming a three-time world champion by winning the Qatar Grand Prix ahead of the two McLaren drivers.

The newly-re-crowned champion never looked threatened at the front of the field. He resisted a brief early attack from the two Mercedes drivers which ended when the pair hit each other. Lewis Hamilton tripped over George Russell at turn one.

That opened the door for the rapid McLarens. Sprint race winner Oscar Piastri took maximum advantage, leading home team mate Norris to complete another double podium for McLaren. Russell recovered to fourth but Hamilton’s race ended on lap one.

Due to the tyre concerns raised by Pirelli over the build-up to the grand prix, the FIA announced that there would be a maximum stint length of 18 laps for safety reasons. The majority of the top 10 starters opted to begin the race on medium tyres, though Hamilton had soft tyres fitted for the start.

When the lights went out, pole winner Verstappen came under pressure from fellow front row starter Russell. But Hamilton got a better start on his soft tyres and tried to pass Russell around the outside of the first corner.

The two Mercedes collided, sending Hamilton spinning out of the race and dropping Russell to the back of the field. In the chaos, Piastri navigated by Fernando Alonso into second place, while the Safety Car was deployed so Hamilton’s car could be retrieved from the turn one gravel trap.

The race eventually restarted at the beginning of lap five, with Verstappen leading from Piastri, Alonso and Charles Leclerc in fourth. Russell restarted at the back of the field in 18th place, quickly making positions as he began his recovery.

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Verstappen pulled out a modest lead over Piastri, with Alonso becoming the first of the leaders to stop at the end of lap 11. Piastri pitted the following lap and rejoined ahead of Alonso, with Verstappen eventually fitting a second set of mediums at the end of lap 17. By the time the first pit cycle had completed, Verstappen held a lead of seven seconds over Piastri, with Alonso four seconds further back.

Verstappen’s lead remained fairly static until Piastri made his second stop at the end of lap 25, fitting his third set of mediums, with Alonso also stopping and resuming on hard tyres. Alonso had a major moment at turn two, sliding off the track and onto the gravel, losing a position to Leclerc after rejoining right in front of the Ferrari.

The race leader remained out on track until the end of lap 34, pitting for hard tyres. Over the next 10 laps, Verstappen increased his lead to 10 seconds, until Piastri stopped again on lap 44, switching onto the hard tyres. His team mate inherited second place until Norris pitted at the end of the next lap, resuming just behind his team mate.

Russell had spent the race making his way through the field after his opening lap clash with Hamilton and moved into second after the McLarens stopped, with a Russell still to make a final pit stop. Eventually Russell pitted for hard tyres, rejoining down in fourth, 20 seconds behind Norris. Verstappen made his final stop and to sit just five seconds ahead of Piastri in the lead, with under five laps remaining.

Verstappen checked off the remaining laps and took the chequered flag to secure his 14th grand prix victory of the season. Piastri secured the best grand prix finish of his rookie career in second, under five seconds behind the winner, with Norris completing the podium for McLaren in third. Russell took fourth place despite fading rapidly in the final stint, ahead of Leclerc in fifth and Alonso sixth in for Aston Martin.

Esteban Ocon finished seventh for Alpine, with both Alfa Romeos of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu securing double points in eighth and ninth. Sergio Perez took the final point in tenth after multiple time penalties for exceeding track limits.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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30 comments on “Verstappen wins ahead of McLaren pair after Hamilton and Russell collide”

  1. Max was surely taking it easy, but encouraging for Mclaren. Double podium after a 6th and 10th start (+Sainz non start etc). With this momentum, hopefully taking the fight to RB next year

  2. Pretty boring race, great comeback from Russell, how many races before Checko will be sacked?

    1. 5, or as many as necessary to ensure he comes home 2nd: red bull care about that because in 2021 they were barely able to win the title with verstappen, no way for 2nd, 2022 they barely missed it, with leclerc edging ahead of perez and this year with such a strong car it’s now or never, but perez is really trying hard to miss 2nd place!

  3. Some things never change at Mercedes.
    Quite a few time penalties, but at least not as many as in Austria.
    Checo was lackluster yet again, but Sargeant’s sudden unwell feeling made me think whether he’d wholly prepared for these conditions, but most importantly, I hope he’s all okay.

  4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    8th October 2023, 20:21

    How did Gasly not get a penalty for pushing Russell off and how did Alonso not get a penalty for the way he rejoined the race?

    Are track limits more important than safety and racing regs?

    1. Probably because Russell was quite happy to punt Verstappen in Baku and explain, with a big grin on his face, that the car on the outside should expect to be run off and that this was totally fine.

      It’s not, of course, but it’s odd to hear Russell complain about it on the radio.

    2. @freelittlebirds At this venue at least, track limits are a safety issue – although I’m not sure all of them got picked up on either.

  5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    8th October 2023, 20:24

    What a glorious weekend for McLaren – I did not like the fact that McLaren did not allow Norris to race Piastri. This also happened in Monza when Ricciardo won and I felt Norris should have fought for the win there.

    1. Me neither. I could understand it, but didn’t like it.

    2. Well, if the first victory/one-two in almost a decade is on the table, and similarly now – the first back-to-back double podium since Valencia 2010 – you better be careful about the team result. McLaren first needs to build the reliable podium finishing/winning routine before they start to risk – and the risk today would be moreover totally unnecessary.

    3. Piastri was toldo to make way for Norris more than twice in the past.

      He was behind by his own doing.

      The team did good not doing it this time.

    4. Norris later said he couldn’t get close, and if you watch the laptimes, after Norris pushed Piastri responded.

      It is unlikely Norris would have been able to overtake.

  6. Perez will be thanking Russell tonight. Hamilton should have taken a big chunck out of his 2nd place in the championship.

    1. Wait, what?
      You are blaming Russell for the turn 1 collision?
      Where Hamilton tried to pass 2 cars, and steered in like no one was there?

      1. In fairness, a car generally has to hit something or break (or both) to retire, no matter how badly it is being driven at any given moment, and Russell was the car Hamilton hit ;)

    2. While it looks like George was turning out to Lewis it was Lewis he took the corner to short (my first reaction was blaming George when i saw he was moving outwards but Lewis wasn’t even past George rear wheel so Lewis went for it and run out of space turning in)

  7. Checo needs to find a seat elsewhere… This was an even more embarrassing weekend than Suzuka and that was already quite low in the ranks!

    1. Clearly he is not needed anymore, so what should R.B. do? I’d put Tsunoda in there for the last 5 races, great opportunity to Check(o) him out!

      1. RB are saying all the right things about Peres, but in reality, they absolutely must be looking at option to replace him ASAP. He is rattled, making way too many mistakes, not contributing to the Team and nowhere near Max, not even on the same lap.
        I like Peres, but I feel he will be replaced sooner rather than later.

        1. @malrg Red Bull was saying all the right things about Gasly the week before he got sacked

          1. In this case though, it’s in red bull’s interest to finish the season with perez, it might be a unique chance to get 1st and 2nd in the driver’s championship, they NEVER managed it before, I know it looks unbelievable with the car they had in 2010-2013, but webber never made 2nd, and then we have 2021, where there was no chance of perez beating hamilton, 2022 which was very close vs leclerc and then this super dominant season.

  8. Checo was lackluster yet again,

    “Lacklustre”? I don’t think he was that good.

  9. Lacklustre = 🐶 💩

  10. McLarens had some pace today. Clever strategy. If it hasn’t been for Verstappen’s masterclass, they could’ve easily taken the victory, even 1-2.

    1. Yes, no wonder they were so gutted on Friday. They had a great car and they knew it. Norris at the start immediately behind Verstappen and he could have really challenged for the win.
      Piastri, unfortunately, once again not quite fast enough over a race distance.

      1. That’s a bit harsh. He’s showing incredible maturity in managing a car that’s not as fast as the RBR in staying mistake free in the races.
        1st in the sprint and 2nd in the race is probably way beyond Mclaren’s wildest dreams for their rookie.

  11. Alonso didn’t got a penalty for rejoining the track like that? Really? But guys going off-track by 2 milimeters are worth a penalty.

    1. Yes, this is a case of silly rules, at the end of the day, I thought they were rules made for safety and it looks like less dangerous stuff is being punished more.

  12. Awful race for Ferrari. Can’t start one car, and the other is miles off the pace and couldn’t even finish ahead of someone who was standing backwards in the runoff on lap 1. The car concept should never have been carried over into 2023 after Mercedes’ anti-porpoising TD was put in place.

    1. Ahaha, true, that’s a good point about not having the pace to beat russell.

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