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Qatar Grand Prix 2023

Stoddie Straight: Hamilton questioned and track limits ridiculed

RacingNews365's expert columnist, former Formula 1 team principal Paul Stoddart reflects on the Qatar Grand Prix.

The FIA were very good with the tyre situation. It was a good decision, you have to make a clear decision and they did.

That was a big change compared to Indianapolis back in 2005 when they didn't make a decision and the Michelin drivers couldn't compete.

But then the track limits were very bad, I can't agree with them at the moment.

The drivers almost passed out - or did at some points - and couldn't see the white lines. You can say it is fair for all because the rule applies to everyone, but the situation was not like that.

Common sense has to take over, something has to be done about that in the future. The rule is now starting to interfere with the racing and that is not what it is supposed to do.

There was no advantage to be gained this time and considering the hard conditions, track limits were the last thing drivers should have to think about, getting one inch too far over the line.

The rule only has to be used if you really gain an advantage when crossing the track limits, otherwise, it doesn't make sense and it is affecting the racing.

What was Hamilton thinking?

Saturday's Sprint, with safety cars, had fantastic racing and Oscar Piastri is going to be a star, no question about it.

Verstappen's success is well deserved and it is going to be difficult to beat him next year and in 2025, when you consider what he and Red Bull can deliver.

Sergio is in such a fast car but he can't get the best out of it. He really has to pick the pace up because next year, Red Bull won't go with a driver that doesn't perform.

It was a fantastic race result again for McLaren - they are knocking on the door and there are enough races left to chase down second in the standings by the end of the season, if they can keep the momentum because they are a pretty serious challenge.

A bad weekend for Mercedes, I don't know what Hamilton was thinking. He has all the room in the world and he could have ended up in first after the first or second corner. Verstappen was very lucky not to be hit out of the race.

Hamilton claimed responsibility, so that was good but they could have scored a lot of points in the race for second because Ferrari was nowhere.

Close battle at bottom proves budget cap working

Down the order, it was a bad weekend for Stroll. He must be questioning his position in F1 and it is quite sad to see.

AlphaTauri is struggling in what has been a really hard season and going out like this would be very sad for Franz Tost [Team Principal, who retires at the end of the year].

It's an interesting fight down the bottom of the Constructors' championship, where sometimes teams are performing really well and then slipping back again or doing it like Williams, with only one driver scoring the points.

It's a tough battle there but another point of strength for the FIA, because it proves the budget cap is working.

F1 2023 Qatar Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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