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Qatar Grand Prix 2023

Perez future at risk? - What we learned at the Qatar GP

RacingNews365.com takes a look at the biggest lessons from the Lusail International Circuit.

Perez Qatar
Article
To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen became a three-time World Champion on Saturday and followed up with victory in Sunday's Qatar Grand Prix.

The Dutchman added a 14th win from 17 races this term to stretch his domination over the rest of the field in what was a dramatic event.

RacingNews365.com takes a look at what we learned at the Lusail International Circuit.

Perez in race to save Red Bull seat

Whilst Verstappen was securing another title triumph, teammate Sergio Perez's struggles continued.

The Mexican failed to reach Q3 again in Friday's qualifying session and having finished only ninth in the Sprint Shootout, Perez was in the midfield for the Sprint battle.

This proved costly as he found himself an innocent party in a three-car crash with Alpine's Esteban Ocon and Haas' Nico Hulkenberg - the damage sustained leading to a pit lane start for the Grand Prix.

But for Perez, the pace just wasn't there and having only scraped into the top 10 by the end of the 57 laps, a number of track limit penalties saw him pick up just one point.

With the disastrous races in Singapore and Japan fresh in the mind, Red Bull's hierarchy will surely be drained of confidence in Perez as it turns one eye to the closing pack ahead of next season.

The US-Mexico-Brazil triple-header could be crucial for Perez's future.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Mercedes' Suzuka tension spills

Tension was building between Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at the Japanese Grand Prix as team orders threatened to turn sour.

Whilst public perception has been one of a happy family, there is no doubt that within each driver there is a passionate belief that they are top of the team - whatever the championship standings may say.

Hamilton started on Softs in Qatar - an alternate strategy to the majority of those around him on the Mediums. The seven-time champion was unsure ahead of the start whether this was the correct call and knew he had to attack.

Attack he did, sweeping around the outside of Russell and leader Verstappen into Turn 1. But as they squeezed into the apex, the Silver Arrows collided - sending Hamilton out of the race and his teammate to the back of the pack.

Russell would eventually finish fourth and whilst post-race comments suggested the 'happy family' was intact - Hamilton taking full responsibility - the initial team radio blame game hinted at frailties.

Whether that materialises into anything more sinister is yet to be seen, but usually two flare-ups in two races is an indication of trouble.

			© RN365/Michael Potts
	© RN365/Michael Potts

McLaren is Red Bull's biggest threat

McLaren is beginning to look like an F1 dream team.

Andrea Stella has taken to the Team Principal role like a duck to water, CEO Zak Brown's radical remix of the technical department has already paid dividends and Lando Norris has been joined by Oscar Piastri on performance levels.

A nightmare start to the year has ruled out a chance of second in the Constructors' standings, but with Piastri winning the Sprint and finishing second in the race to prove he can perform across a lengthy stint - matched with Norris' as-yet-untapped potential, wins are surely around the corner.

The Woking-based team has firmly positioned itself as Red Bull's main competitor for next season on current form and is part of the reason Perez is now under so much pressure.

Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin would do well to take note of McLaren's rise.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Later Qatar scheduling correct

A number of health concerns were raised post-race as extreme heat took its toll.

Logan Sargeant retired early through illness, Ocon was sick in his crash helmet and Lance Stroll, among others, suggested he was close to losing consciousness through the event.

With plenty of other stories emerging regarding the exhaustive conditions, it is a good thing that the F1 calendar has Qatar pushed back to November next season.

That is more aligned with the change to the FIFA World Cup schedule last year to accommodate the Qatari heat and should place greater focus on driver safety.

Lessons will surely be learned but thankfully, there wasn't a more serious issue.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Questions for Pirelli

The weekend was marred by a number of safety measures introduced by the FIA and Pirelli with regard to concerns over tyre life.

Analysis after practice on Friday found separation in the sidewalls between the carcass cords and topping agent of the compound, believed to be from continuous kerb striking.

The Lusail circuit used 50mm pyramid kerbs - which are FIA-accredited - and the Pirelli tyres seemingly couldn't handle the frequencies created by the contact between the two parties.

There has been no finger-pointing as yet but if there is a wider issue at play, solutions will need to be found before another F1 weekend descends into fiasco.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

F1 2023 Qatar Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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