He gave Lewis Hamilton in the Formula 1 GP of Qatar. Dominantly, the seven-time world champion led from end to end this Sunday’s race (21) and gave no chance to his great rival in the fight for the title in 2021, Max Verstappen. The Dutchman recovered from the punishment determined by the FIA about 1h and 40 minutes before the start, went from seventh to finish second, but at no point did he threaten Hamilton. Even so, the Red Bull driver managed an important asset by setting the fastest lap and securing the extra point of the race.
Another big name on Sunday was Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard, benefiting from the penalties imposed on Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas, started in third, had a great race, took a risk with a pit-stop strategy and took Alpine to the podium. It was the first time since the 2014 Hungarian GP that the two-time world champion did not carry a trophy in F1.
Hamilton’s gap to Verstappen dropped to 8 points. Max now has 351.5 goals, against 343.5 for the owner of the #44 Mercedes car.
Sergio Pérez finished fourth, just ahead of Esteban Ocon’s Alpine. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll surprised and secured sixth place, thus surpassing the Ferrari duo, with Carlos Sainz in seventh and Charles Leclerc in eighth. Lando Norris, with McLaren, was ninth and Sebastian Vettel, also of Aston Martin, was tenth.
The 21st and penultimate stage of the 2021 Formula 1 season is scheduled for two weeks from now, between December 3rd and 5th, and will mark Saudi Arabia’s debut at the Worlds.
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Find out about the Formula 1 GP of Qatar
With the grid quite shaken among the top ten due to the punishments imposed on Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas just 1 hour and 40 minutes earlier, the Qatar GP left with the prospect of being another great journey for Lewis Hamilton.
The start was very good for the seven-time champion, who defended himself from attacks by Pierre Gasly, in second place, and Fernando Alonso, in third. Hamilton maintained the lead in the race, while Verstappen gained three positions and jumped from seventh to fourth. On the other hand, Bottas’ start was disastrous when he lost no less than five places and dropped to 11th. The Finn was no worse than Sebastian Vettel, who dropped from tenth to 17th on the first lap.
With a bold move, Alonso passed Gasly and took second on lap 2. Two turns later, the Frenchman was passed by Verstappen, who advanced to third. It didn’t take long for the Dutchman to take second place and fall behind Hamilton in the race.
The race was a hotbed of disputes in the opening laps: Esteban Ocon won three places, while Sergio Pérez advanced well on the grid and left Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda behind to take eighth place. On lap 7, ‘Czeco’ opened up a fight with Carlos Sainz, made the overtaking on turn 1, but took the change right away and was overtaken by the Spaniard. But Pérez made the final pass on lap eight.
The one who disappointed the most was Bottas. In 11th and without being able to pass anyone, the Finn took a ‘smoke’ from chef Toto Wolff via radio: “Let’s go upstairs, Valtteri, get on top of those cars”, he charged. Then the Norseman attempted a double pass at the end of the straight, passed Tsunoda, but was unable to leave Stroll behind.
Hamilton, on the other hand, didn’t give the boss any trouble. The pilot maintained a comfortable difference, of 5s7, to Verstappen, while Alonso was already much further behind and was third, followed by Gasly, Lando Norris and Pérez, who passed Ocon and took sixth place.
Gasly, the big name of the weekend so far, could not show a good race pace at Losail, was easily overtaken by Norris and also by Pérez, thus dropping to seventh, two positions ahead of Bottas, who had finally managed to overcome to Aston Martin from Stroll. The Frenchman was then called by AlphaTauri to make his first pit-stop on lap 14.
Pérez advanced even further in the race. With the second best car on the grid, the Mexican moved up to fourth after passing Norris. Second of Mercedes, Bottas also opened the way by surpassing the Ferrari of Sainz and also the Alpine of Ocon. Up front, Hamilton amended faster laps in a row and to open 8s3 facing Verstappen.
Max went to the Red Bull pits to change tires. The Taurine team exchanged the midfielders for the hard compounds for the second stint of the race. Verstappen still came back in second, just ahead of Alonso. On the next spin, the 18, it was Mercedes’ turn to call Hamilton to make the pit-stop. It also changes from medium to hard tyres.
Pérez performed his first pit-stop on lap 20 and returned to 11th, his original starting position. Meanwhile, Mercedes has set Bottas a different, one-stop strategy.
Hamilton set the gap by around 7s to Verstappen and was battling the Dutchman for the fastest lap of the race. Shortly before, Alonso and Norris made their respective pit-stops and put on hard tires for the second part of the race.
Pérez sought to break through again and dueled wheel to wheel with Leclerc and Sainz. The Monegasque, specifically, was brave and tried to stay ahead, but he couldn’t resist the better performance of the Red Bull car. Then Charles went to the pits to make his pit-stop along with his teammate. ‘Czech’ moved up to fifth, behind a surprising Alonso and ahead of Gasly, sixth.
Alonso also sold very dearly for fourth place, dueling side by side with Pérez, but the Mexican managed to gain one more position in the race, thus remaining only behind Bottas, Verstappen and Hamilton, the leader
But the difference between Hamilton and Verstappen started to drop around lap 30. The Dutchman reduced his rival’s lead to around 6s. But Lewis responded with 1min26s470, made the fastest lap of the race and was again 7s ahead of Max.
At that moment, Bottas faced another hard setback in the race and had his left front tire punctured. The Finn was passed by Pérez and Alonso, dragged himself to the pits, and Mercedes changed the tires and also the car’s nose when there were 22 laps to go. Valtteri dropped to 14th.
Gasly returned to the pits for AlphaTauri to put on soft tires for the last stint of the race. After a slow pit-stop, the Frenchman returned to the track in tenth place, but it was expected that more people ahead would also make another tire change. Hamilton, amidst all this, was opening even more to Verstappen and had an 8s7 advantage after 39 laps. The Dutchman, in turn, complained of vibrations in the car.
Verstappen returned to the pits to make his last change and put medium tires on lap 42. On the next lap, it was Pérez and Hamilton’s turn. In practice, in the fight for victory, nothing changed, and Lewis headed for a victory that was very important for his octa-championship pretensions.
With ten laps to go in the race, Hamilton led, followed by Verstappen and Alonso, who followed with a one-stop strategy. Norris was fourth, followed by Ocon and Pérez, who rose again to sixth after passing the Frenchman’s Alpine after a wonderful dispute. Esteban was very tough when trying to hold the Mexican’s car and help Alonso.
The fight between Hamilton and Verstappen was no longer for victory, but for the fastest lap and the extra point of the Qatar GP. On lap 47, Max set the fastest lap, although the Briton’s lead in the lead remained close to 9s.
In the final stretch of the race, Bottas was called by Mercedes to collect the car to the pits and abandon it, while George Russell, out of the running, had his hard left front tire punctured and had to make an unforeseen pit-stop. Then Nicholas Latifi, Russell’s teammate at Williams, also had a flat tire and was slow on the track. Tension at the end of the race.
With a much better car, Pérez passed Ocon and was 8s behind Alonso, who was struggling to win his first podium since the 2014 Hungarian GP. from the position of the car of Latifi, who retired from the race. Before, Mick Schumacher made a mistake, escaped and came back on top of Alonso, giving the Spaniard a scare.
Red Bull even called up Verstappen to make another pit-stop and put on soft tires for the Dutchman to secure the fastest lap of the race. It was the consolation prize for the Dutchman in light of Hamilton’s overwhelming victory in Qatar.
F1 2021, Qatar GP, Losail, Final Result:
|1||L HAMILTON||Mercedes||57 laps|
|two||M VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull Honda||+25,743|
|4||S PEREZ||Red Bull Honda||+1:02,306|
|6||L STROLL||Aston Martin Mercedes||+1:21,274|
|9||NORRIS||McLaren Mercedes||+ 1 lap|
|10||S VETTEL||Aston Martin Mercedes||+ 1 lap|
|11||P GASLY||AlphaTauri Honda||+ 1 lap|
|12||D RICCIARDO||McLaren Mercedes||+ 1 lap|
|13||Y TSUNODA||AlphaTauri Honda||+ 1 lap|
|14||K RÄIKKÖNEN||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||+ 1 lap|
|15||THE GIOVINAZZI||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||+ 1 lap|
|16||M SCHUMACHER||Haas Ferrari||+ 1 lap|
|17||G RUSSELL||Williams Mercedes||+ 2 laps|
|18||N MAZEPIN||Haas Ferrari||+ 2 laps|
|19||NO LATIFI||Williams Mercedes||NC|
|VMR||M VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull Honda||1:24,031||Back 54|
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