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Qatar Grand Prix 2023

Winners and Losers from 2023 F1 Qatar Grand Prix Sprint

Some unsurprising Winners and unfortunate Losers make the round-up from the 2023 F1 Qatar Grand Prix Sprint.

Verstappen Qatar
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Three things are almost certain in life.

Death, taxes and Christian Horner screaming over the team radio to exclaim one of his Red Bull drivers as "the World Champion, the World Champion."

Except as Max Verstappen claimed his third title in Qatar, Horner was subdued over the radio.

Perhaps it was because it was in a Sprint that the title had been won or was not a final-race thriller or outstanding drive as he finished just second this time around.

It was never in doubt with just three points needed by the Dutchman to ensure the trophy will stay in Milton Keynes for another 12 months, and which is where we start our round-up.

Winner - Max Verstappen

Time flies, doesn't it?

Between March 15th, 2015 and October 7th, 2023, 3,128 days have passed.

That's the gap between Verstappen's debut in Australia and wrapping up title number three.

It does only seem like yesterday the 17-year-old who triggered the FIA to change the super-licence rules rocked up. In just his third race in China, Sky F1 commentator Martin Brundle predicted that "that Verstappen boy will be in a World-Championship winning car by the time he's 20."

He was in at Red Bull at 18, but the title-winning would have to wait until he was 24.

With stable rules in place and Sergio Perez firmly covered, Verstappen is favourite for 2024 and 2025.

That's five titles, and then just two behind Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton...

What did Verstappen say?

"It is a fantastic feeling, it has been an incredible year, great races and I am super proud of the job the team has done. t has been so enjoyable to be part of that group of people and to be a three-time World Champion is just incredible."

			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

Loser - Sergio Perez

This race was a microcosm of Perez's season in just 11 laps.

Firstly a poor qualifying position had him battling the midfield runners, he then struggled to clear them in the rocketship of the RB19 before getting caught up in a melee that ultimately ended his faint title hopes.

He is in firm need of a reset, to reset over the winter and accept the fact that he is not going to beat Verstappen - or come remotely close to doing so.

The highs are high for Perez but the lows are debilitating, and if he cannot snap out of this funk, that iron-clad Red Bull seat in 2024 is going to look shaky.

What did Perez say?

"What a shame. I was just in the wrong place with these two guys and ended up taking a lot of damage on my car. Unfortunately, as I was making progress, they had this contact and I paid the price and I have massive damage also on my car."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - Oscar Piastri

It was Oscar Piastri's misfortune to win his first 'race' in F1 on the same day all-time great added another title to the collection.

Nevertheless, this is a real-marker and standout statement from the Melbourne native.

He has firmly done a job on Lando Norris this weekend, with the Briton taken aback by his younger team-mate.

You know that once shiny new thing that was Norris, well that is now Piastri. He is going right to the very, very top.

Verstappen has largely seen off his generation of George Russell, Charles Leclerc and Norris, but Piastri is stepping up as the face of the next.

Piastri vs Verstappen could be quite the fight if the Australian continues on this upward trajectory.

What did Piastri say?

“I thought once he [Verstappen] got through into second, I was going to be in a bit of trouble, but the pace was good, I managed the tyres well. A first Sprint win sounds pretty cool.”

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Logan Sargeant

All the good work Logan Sargeant did throughout the weekend was thrown away in the Sprint with a needless spin-off at Turn 5.

Qualifying was a decent step forward, but chucking the car at the gravel is simply inexcusable given his situation in keeping his seat for 2024.

The only crumb was that the other touted candidate Liam Lawson made an equally egregious blunder at Turn 2 on the opening lap.

What did Sargeant say?

"I asked for too much when I turned in off the entry curb and the rear went super light. A silly mistake but the positive is that I’ve been driving well all weekend."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - Mercedes

When you are the third fastest team on the grid on a given weekend, that is the minimum you should deliver.

Mercedes split strategy for the Sprint, with George Russell on Softs and Lewis Hamilton on Mediums - the best of both worlds.

Predictably, the fast-starting Russell mugged Piastri on the Safety Car restart, while Hamilton bided his time on the Mediums waiting for opportunities.

They eventually found their way to #44 in the closing laps as he surged to fifth from 12th on the grid - although he was helped by Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg and Perez finding out the hard way that three into one doesn't go.

Fourth and fifth was a solid night's work.

What did Hamilton say?

"It was actually a really good start and then I got stuck behind these cars, then once we got going and they started having an impact on their tyre I was able to start getting past."

			© RN365/Michael Potts
	© RN365/Michael Potts

Loser - Ferrari

Painful would be the best word to describe Ferrari in Qatar thus far.

The SF-23 has been well off the pace, and the old wind-sensitivity problems have been on full display - as has the inability of its drivers to stay on the race-track.

Charles Leclerc was seventh at the flag on his Soft tyres, but four pings for track limits was enough to earn a five-second time penalty to drop out to 12th in the final results.

At least Carlos Sainz took sixth and three points, but on a day Mercedes hauled nine and have better-starting positions for the Grand Prix, this could be a decisive blow in the fight for second.

What did Leclerc say?

"We didn't have any choice, obviously that's the only tyres I have left because we used two new tyres in Q3, one new in SQ3, so I didn't have any new softs left."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

F1 2023 Qatar Grand Prix RN365 News dossier


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