McLaren Racing Formula One Team’s Oscar Piastri says it was a remarkable achievement after the Australian claimed his maiden Formula One victory in Saturday’s Formula One Sprint Race at the Qatar Grand Prix.
The Australian who started the race from the pole position pulled away from his teammate and fellow front-row starter Lando Norris to claim victory just ahead of Max Verstappen who by finishing second scored enough points to score his third consecutive Formula One world championship. Speaking following the action, Piastri said:
Very happy. A very stressful race. When I saw all the Soft tyre guys come through at the start, I thought we were in a bit of trouble and then their tyres fell off pretty quickly, so that was good. Safety Cars were my friend today, definitely once Max [Verstappen] got behind me. But the pace was reasonable and I think, in a race where you had to manage the tyres, cars on other compounds, we did a really good job, so very happy.
“Anything we can try to learn for tomorrow is going to be important as well. I thought once Max got through into second, I was going to have my work cut out – but the pace was good, I managed the tyres well and a first Sprint win sounds pretty cool. Finally, congratulations to Max on his third Championship, it’s a remarkable achievement
Verstappen, who started the race from third place came home in second and speaking following the action he said:
“It’s a fantastic feeling, to be three time World Champion is incredible. It’s brilliant for the Team, my family and my friends too. From day one my family have contributed so much of their lives to make me the person I am today. Luckily, I got to FaceTime my mum after the race, she was already on the champagne! It’s beautiful because my mum understands, she is a racer too. My dad and was here at the track also so it’s nice to have them close. We talk about performance of the car but I think that the most important thing is the atmosphere and the people working in the Team. We’ve had a lot of great results in tough conditions, but we did an incredible job. It’s been a fantastic year and the Team have been working tirelessly throughout the whole year. It’s been so enjoyable to be part of this group of people. For now, I’m just enjoying the moment and hopefully we can keep this momentum going for a while, you know we’ll keep on pushing and trying to do the best we can.”
Lando Norris made a tricky start to the race but bounced back to finish the race in third place and speaking following the race he said:
First of all, congrats to Oscar on his Sprint win and congrats to Max [Verstappen] on his third Championship. It was a tough race for me, a bad start made everything much trickier, but we fought back well. Some fun racing, good overtakes, all the way to the last lap on George. It was tough but another podium for our team is great.
“Oscar’s done a mega job this weekend. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, he hasn’t and he’s capitalised. He’s done a better job, so hats-off to him
George Russell finished the race in fourth just ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Scuderia Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was sixth just ahead of Williams Alex Albon while Fernando Alonso claimed the final point in eighth place. Speaking following the race, the Spaniard said:
“We prioritised tomorrow’s race with our tyre choice in tonight’s Sprint and we managed eighth after the penalty for Charles [Leclerc]. It was quite exciting with all the on-track battles, but the Soft tyres were not ideal towards the final few laps with high degradation. We don’t know how many pitstops there will be tomorrow, so we need to keep our strategy open. We’ve saved a few sets so hopefully we can maximise this and target the top five positions. Congratulations to Max [Verstappen] for his third Drivers’ Championship; he’s dominated the season and deserves it.”
Charles Leclerc was demoted to 12th following a five-second penalty while Pierre Gasly ended the race in ninth place just ahead of Valtteri Bottas who rounded out the top ten.
Speaking following his interesting day, Valtteri Bottas commented saying:
“Today has been an interesting day: we learnt that we have decent race pace, which allowed us to fight with those around us and, although we didn’t get into the top eight, we gained a couple of positions on track, giving us confidence ahead of tomorrow’s main race. I was happy to be on the medium tyres, as the softs seemed to be dropping off quite a lot; unfortunately, I think the last Safety Car lasted a couple of laps too long, and therefore we couldn’t try and build something up in the final stages of the Sprint. Still, tomorrow we’ll be starting from a more favourable position, within the top ten, so we’ll hopefully get to build on today’s pace and get a more realistic shot at a points finish.”
Yuki Tsunoda ended the race in 11th place just ahead of Leclerc while Kevin Magnussen was 13th just ahead of Zhou Guanyu who commented saying:
“It’s been a busy race for us and we were in a lot of the action. There was very little grip out there, but our pace on mediums was quite good and we were doing pretty well, closing in on Lance [Stroll]. When the last Safety Car came out, we tried to roll the dice with the softs and split the strategy compared to Valtteri, but that didn’t really work – the degradation on soft was just too much. All in all, we learnt a lot for tomorrow: starting from P20 will be challenging but we can only go forward. I know what we need to do: overtaking won’t be easy, especially if DRS trains form, but if we can get some clean air we can use our good pace to make up some ground.”
Lance Stroll was the last of the finishers in P15 and speaking following the action he said:
“It was a tough Sprint race today. The temperatures were extremely hot and we had really high tyre degradation out on track. The opening few laps were fairly good and I managed to pass Valtteri [Bottas] during that phase, but I was losing the grip quickly after that so we couldn’t make much more progress. We chose to box during the third Safety Car and put on a set of used Softs, but we were running out of laps and Yuki [Tsunoda] was defending hard. We’re taking a lot more data into tomorrow’s race, so we’ll review that tonight and see what’s possible.
Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez, Logan Sargeant and Liam Lawson all retired from the race.