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Qatar Grand Prix 2023

Winners and Losers from the 2023 F1 Qatar Grand Prix

An unusual Qatar Grand Prix means it's not the usual Winners and Losers analysis.

Hamilton crash Qatar
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

After the utter domination last time out in Japan, the Qatar Grand Prix will go down as the fourth Grand Chelem of Max Verstappen's career.

Pole, win, fastest lap and leading every lap was secured in Lusail after only leading 51 of 53 laps at Suzuka on his way to the win from pole with the bonus point.

It draws him level with Sir Jackie Stewart, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, and Sebastian Vettel on four Grand Chelems.

Next up is Alberto Ascari and Michael Schumacher on five, Lewis Hamilton on six and Jim Clark's record eight.

As he secured a third World Championship, Verstappen entered the rare-field atmosphere of the all-time greats.

Unusually, we do not start our Winners and Losers with a driver or team who had a shocker. Instead - we do so with Formula 1 itself.

Loser - Formula 1

Very bluntly put - this was a dreadful weekend for Formula 1.

Firstly, Lusail is not a venue for a Sprint event and one should not be held here in 2024.

George Russell was one of those who felt that had the normal weekend format been in place, the tyre concerns highlighted on Friday night might have been worked through with a solution found with the FIA imposing an effective three-stop strategy on drivers.

This was owing to concerns about the tyres through the high-speed Turns 12 and 13, with the kerbs being painted in a way that effectively modified the track smaller to prevent drivers from running onto the actual kerb that was posing the danger. This was before Saturday's track action started.

On Sunday morning after Pirelli's analysis after the Sprint, the FIA imposed an 18-lap maximum stint length decree, which coupled with the high g-forces and lack of wind created a vicious cocktail that needs to be seriously looked into.

To have drivers being physically sick in their helmets during the race as Esteban Ocon was or losing consciousness as Lance Stroll claimed is unacceptable and downright dangerous.

Alexander Albon was treated for acute heat exposure, Logan Sargeant for a severe case of dehydration while Russell said he nearly passed out.

These are the fittest, finest specimens on the planet used to driving in extreme conditions, but this was a step too far.

With the 18-lap stint length, drivers were pushing flat-out for every lap safe in the knowledge that tyre conservation was not needed, which with only one corner below 100kph and g-forces of above 4g at a majority of the corners, it is no wonder the drivers were struggling.

The problem was not highlighted during the Sprint owing to the fact that a sizeable chunk of the 19 laps was run behind the Safety Car in three deployments.

In mitigation, when F1 was last in Qatar in 2021, the race was on November 21st, with the 2024 event set for December 1 - six weeks after the October 8 date for '23.

This was a let off for F1 - and one that needs a proper investigation to ensure it cannot happen ever again.
			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Lewis Hamilton

Now, given the conditions, it is not fair to get into picking apart a driver's race to the normal degree.

It would be too far easy to slam Sergio Perez for what was a truly awful weekend, but he is a driver struggling for confidence at the moment having been demolished by Verstappen. An act of leniency is sometimes the kind thing to do.

That being said, Lewis Hamilton is the big loser from Qatar.

From the second the tyre blankets were taken off on the grid, the start as it played out was the only logical outcome - without the crash, that is.

On the Softs, and on the grippy racing line, he drew alongside the front-row of Medium shod Verstappen and Russell and attempted to fling it around the outside.

He nearly made it - but clipped Russell, taking full responsibility.

What did Hamilton say?

"It was just an unfortunate scenario, but I am happy to take responsibility because that is my role. I need to go back at look at it, but I don't feel like it was George's fault."

Winner - McLaren

McLaren's charge is picking up pace with an excellent weekend at Lusail, banking a one-three and two-three from the Sprint and Grand Prix.

Oscar Piastri closed to within 4.833s of Verstappen at the flag, and who knows, had Woking duo actually started second and fourth as they qualified on Friday, might they have had a chance of beating the RB19?

We'll never know, but it is not just Aston Martin who should now be worried.

That gap has been cut to 11 points and McLaren will easily take fourth from Aston. It is now 79 points behind Ferrari. McLaren couldn't, could it?

What did Piastri say?

“It was hot. 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."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo has been in the doldrums in 2023 as Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu trekked around the world for little reward.

But recent updates to the C43 have proved strong, with the team banking a double points finish in eighth and ninth, respectively.

Zhou even went from 18th and last on the grid to ninth by the flag - although the track limits penalties for Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly assisted that.

Bottas qualified ninth for the Grand Prix so this was a solid weekend for Alfa whose haul of six points moved it above Haas and into eighth in the standings.

What did Bottas say?

"I am really pleased with the result we brought home. It was hot and humid out there, quite extreme actually, and the conditions made it an even tougher job, but we knew we had the potential to do well – and we achieved that, thanks to a clean strategy and a flawless race."

F1 2023 Qatar Grand Prix RN365 News dossier


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