Oscar Piastri secured his first F1 win in Qatar GP sprint ahead of now 2023 champion Max Verstappen with Lando Norris in third.
The strategy game was on in the F1 Qatar GP sprint race at Lusail under the floodlights. McLaren’s Oscar Piastri on the medium led the way but had soft runners like Mercedes’ George Russell and the Ferrari pair of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
The Monegasque tried a move on the Spaniard but held back as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen dropped to fifth after re-passing McLaren’s Lando Norris in the first few corners. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was seventh from Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in the Top 8 points places.
The Top 10 had Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez. There was an early safety car period for AlphaTauri’s Liam Lawson who went off onto the gravel on his own. The re-start worked well for Piastri but not for long as Russell pounced on him.
Before the Ferrari drivers could do anything, there was another safety car for an off for Williams’ Logan Sargeant on his own. It was Sainz still in third from Leclerc and Verstappen, as Norris held off Alonso after multiple attempts from the Spaniard.
This allowed Ocon to pass Alonso for seventh in further misery for the Aston Martin driver. The re-start worked well for Russell as he stretched out a healthy lead from Piastri who came under pressure from Sainz but managed to hang on.
Leclerc in fourth led Verstappen and Norris as Alonso re-passed Ocon for seventh. Behind them, Alpine’s Pierre Gasly was passed by both Perez and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. The Brit’s teammate, meanwhile, started to struggle and Piastri made a quick work.
Russell started to come under pressure from Verstappen who cleared both Sainz and Leclerc. In fact, the Monegasque was passed by Norris in a bold move for fifth. Just behind them, Hulkenberg tried a pass on Ocon at Turn 1 and Turn 2 with Perez there.
Ocon was on the outside with Perez on the inside where they touched Hulkenberg who was sandwiched in between. Both the Alpine and Red Bull cars were beached up while the Haas car dropped into the pits to retire as the safety car was deployed.
It was Piastri in the lead from Russell, Verstappen, Sainz, Norris, Leclerc, Alonso and Hamilton in the Top 8 points places. The re-start worked well as Piastri stretched out enough lead eventually to win his first F1 sprint race in Qatar GP.
Verstappen pushed hard to pass Russell and catch Piastri but held off to end up second and secure the 2023 F1 championship to become a 3-time world champion. Norris was re-passed by Leclerc on re-start but he came back to re-take the place.
He then cleared both Sainz and Russell to end up third. Russell ended up fourth from teammate Hamilton who was passed by Gasly on re-start. But the medium tyres worked well as he not only passed Gasly but also Alonso, Leclerc and Sainz to be fifth.
Sainz had to be content with sixth from Leclerc who held off Williams’ Alexander Albon, who climbed up from the fag end of the standings on the medium tyres to score a point after passing Alonso. He missed out on points in ninth from Gasly.
UPDATE: Post the F1 Qatar GP sprint race, the FIA handed 5s time penalties to both Leclerc and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll for track limits. Both exceeded for a total of four times as the Monegasque lost seventh to Albon while Alonso gained a place to be eighth in points.
Leclerc dropped to 13th as a result while Stroll was 16th. The FIA also released details of the 23 lap times that were deleted for track limits: https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/decision-document/2023%20Qatar%20Grand%20Prix%20-%20Sprint%20Deleted%20Lap%20Times.pdf
UPDATE 2: The stewards have cleared Perez, Ocon and Hulkenberg for their collision as no driver was found to be wholly responsible for the incident. Here: https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/decision-document/2023%20Qatar%20Grand%20Prix%20-%20Decision%20-%20Car%2027%20-%20T2%20incident%20with%20Cars%2011%20and%2031.pdf