Defending Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton who started Sunday’s inaugural Qatari Grand Prix from pole dominated the race to take his second victory in succession to close to within six points of championship leader Max Verstappen. Speaking following the race, Hamilton commented saying:
It’s been a hell of a year so to be at this point of the season and have back-to-back wins is a great feeling. It was a pretty straight forward race for me, a little bit lonely but of course, we needed those points, so a really solid job by the team. A big thank you to everyone trackside and back at the factories for all their hard work. I’m really grateful for these points and it’s amazing to be able to close the gap so much in the last two weeks. We’ve still got our work cut out, but we’re loving such a close battle and the challenge that it brings. It was a real shame for Valtteri today, having to retire, but the pace was good this weekend and that puts us in good stead for the next two races. We’ll be bringing our triple a-game for those.
Verstappen was handed a five-place grid penalty ahead of the race for ignoring double yellow flags and started the race from seventh but recovered to claim second place in the race and gained a bonus point for scoring the fastest lap.
The standout performance came from the Alpine F1 Team’s Fernando Alonso who started the race from third and had great pace throughout the event to come home in third place to claim his first podium finish since 2013.
Sergio Perez came from eleventh on the grid to finish fourth just ahead of Esteban Ocon on a great day for Alpine.
Lance Stroll was sixth for Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team just ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
Lando Norris salvaged two points for McLaren while Sebastian Vettel came home in tenth place.
Pierre Gasly was unable to convert his second-place start position and came home in 11th just ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda. Speaking following the race, Gasly said:
“It’s a really frustrating day. Both Yuki and myself started in the top 10, but went massively backwards during the race. I was giving everything I had inside the car today, but we were just too slow. Even at the start I wasn’t able to stick with Alonso, so we tried to go for an aggressive two stop strategy, but the pace just wasn’t there. It didn’t work today, which is really disappointing. After the incident yesterday we changed some parts on the car, I don’t know if these could have impacted our race pace today, but we’ll have to go away and review everything, as I just can’t explain it right now.”
Yuki Tsunoda commented saying:
“That was a particularly tough race, I struggled a lot on the soft tyre, especially in the first stint. We really weren’t expecting that, as overall this week we’ve had really good pace, but today in the race it dropped off, so we’ve got to look at the data and figure out why that was. It’s a real shame, as Alpine had a very good race today, so we need a strong comeback for the last two races.”
Kimi Raikkonen was 14th for the Alfa Romeo Racing team just ahead of his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi and Mick Schumacher. George Russell and Nikita Mazepin rounded out the order. Valtteri Bottas and Nicholas Latifi retired from the race. Speaking following the race, Kimi Raikkonen said;
“I was surprised by the overtakes we could do, in the end it was an entertaining race. I didn’t expect much at the beginning, perhaps to be able to race with some people as the car was pretty much the same as yesterday, but we had a good start and then things kept improving as the race went on. I had some good battles and by the end we were catching the McLaren and AlphaTauri ahead. I think we got everything we could out of this race.”
Antonio Giovinazzi commented on his race saying:
“We did the maximum we could, I don’t think anything more than P15 was possible today. We had a great first lap, gaining four places, and then we were in some nice battles for the rest of the evening. We struggled yesterday, but we knew with a good race we could finish ahead of both Haas and Williams – and that is what we delivered. We went for a two-stopper as we knew the degradation was high and the kerbs were hard, and at the end we were quicker than our rivals. Given where we started, we have to be satisfied with our race today.”
George Russell was left disappointed following the race and speaking following the action the Englishman commented saying:
We had an aggressive strategy today and we were trying to push our final stint as long as possible. With the really high-speed right-hand corners at this circuit, the tyres were always going to be pushed to their limit but we had to be that aggressive to be in the fight with the Alfa Romeos. Unfortunately, the left front tyre punctured a few laps from the end so it’s one of those things. It was a shame for our race to end that way but ultimately, it’s nothing gained nothing lost, as our nearest rivals didn’t score any points.
There was disappointment for Nicholas Latifi who was forced to retire from the race due to a puncture and speaking following the action he said;
We tried to make the one-stop work knowing that it would be on the limit with tyres, but we thought we could manage it as a strategy call. The surprising thing was that I had no idea that the tyre was about to suffer a puncture, so unfortunately, we weren’t able to adjust our strategy in time. Even once George had to pit again, I still thought that I’d be able to finish the race on my current set as they felt absolutely fine. Overall, I think the strategy was worth the risk, especially once we’d lost track position to the Alfa Romeos, because we couldn’t have done anything more. It’s a shame that the race didn’t work out as the car felt really good around this circuit, but that’s how things go sometimes
Valtteri Bottas commented on his night saying:
Obviously, that was a very disappointing day for me and a tough way to end the weekend, after it started so promisingly on Friday. I struggled on the formation lap to get temperature into the tyres and then being on the dirty side of the grid, I had no grip for the start, so I was just wheel spinning, and was skating around on the first lap. Then I got into a bit of a DRS train but once the gaps opened up, I could make progress, the pace was good, and I could go long on the stint. But then, all of a sudden, I had the puncture without any vibration or warning. We knew we were pushing the limit of the tyre, but I was still getting good grip, we still felt comfortable and staying out was our best shot at a podium. It failed just after the pit entry as well, so the most unlucky part of the track, and the car got so damaged on the lap back to the pits we felt it was safer to retire and save the mileage.