Max Verstappen dominated the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix to record his 14th win of the season on the weekend he claimed his third Drivers’ Championship, but it was Oscar Piastri who won Formula 1’s Driver of the Day award with 27% of the vote.
The rookie started from sixth but by the exit of the first corner had got up to second thanks to an opening lap Mercedes crash that opened the door for the Australian to jump past Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc.
From there, he showed his class around the Losail International Circuit by matching and bettering his rivals’ pace to claim his second career F1 podium, both coming in successive races around high-speed circuits.
He earned it by defending a late charge from Lando Norris, who was told to hold position but rejected team orders and pushed on.
The British driver got within a second of his teammate but didn’t have enough time left as the laps ran out, allowing the Aussie to take 2nd place for his biggest result in the sport to date.
“It was hot,” Piastri said to F1 media after the race. “I think also, like Lando said, with the three stops it was basically flat-out, it was 57 qualifying laps which I definitely feel like I’ve done.
“It was a really good race, I’m happy that all the tyres stayed together, that was good obviously and yeah, I’m happy with another trophy too.”
Opening lap crashes and track limits
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton showed shades of Spain 2016 as they collided on the opening lap of the Qatar GP. Hamilton started on the soft compound tyre and got a good launch, pulling alongside his teammate who was on the gearbox of Verstappen.
As the Mercedes cars turned into the corner, Russell‘s front-left tyre hit Hamilton‘s rear-right ending the 38-year-old’s race whilst Russell continued on. He would go on to recover to 4th in a good comeback drive whilst Hamilton accepted he was responsible for the accident, even though he hadn’t watched it back at the time of speaking.
Thereafter, the race was difficult to call as the constant pit-stops ensured that the contest never really settled down, leaving the teams to wait and see what would happen as differing strategies played out.
Drivers suffered in the conditions. Logan Sargeant retired and struggled to get out of his car due to sickness, whilst Russell was seen taking his hands off the steering wheel to try to cool them.
The racers also struggled with managing track limits, as several collected penalties, but namely Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll who took three and two time penalties respectively.
Carlos Sainz didn’t compete in the race after a fuel leak on his car ensured that he had to sit it out, after he was due to start from 12th place.