How Lewis Hamilton Took Care of Business at F1 Qatar Grand Prix

·6 min read
Photo credit: ANDREJ ISAKOVIC - Getty Images
Photo credit: ANDREJ ISAKOVIC - Getty Images
  • Lewis Hamilton dominated beneath the floodlit Losail International Circuit to record his seventh win of the season, second in a row, and 102nd of his career,

  • Verstappen and Alonso were the only two drivers to finish within a minute of the leader.

  • Verstappen's lead in the championship was trimmed from 14 points to eight with races at Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi remaining.

Formula 1’s maiden trip to Qatar did not produce a Grand Prix that will live long in the memory.

Lewis Hamilton dominated beneath the floodlit Losail International Circuit to record his seventh win of the season, second in a row, and 102nd of his career, to add another trophy to his collection.

It was the largest sporting event in Qatar’s history, taking place a year to the day out from the event that will surpass it: the FIFA World Cup. That attracted some soccer royalty, most prominently David Beckham and Andrea Pirlo, and prior to the race the bosses from FIFA and Formula 1 posed on the grid with their respective trophies. Such is the focus on the World Cup that means Qatar won’t be on the 2022 Formula 1 calendar before returning in 2023, potentially at a new location.

Hamilton picked up the win in this one from pole, dominating proceedings by leading all 57 laps. Championship points leader Max Verstappen limited the damage of a pre-race five-grid position penalty for ignoring a double yellow flag on Saturday by quickly working his way from seventh on the grid to finish second.

Fernando Alonso finished third. Verstappen and Alonso were the only two drivers to finish within a minute of the leader.

“He is absolutely on it,” said Toto Wolff about Hamilton's performance. “Brutal. And cold blooded. This is the best in Lewis and we’ve seen it in the past and this is right there.”

"Well, it was just an amazing… these past three weeks have been so difficult for everyone with such big distances between all the races," Hamilton said. "And the team did such an amazing job, particularly these past two races, and today, of course.

"The race was made a lot easier with the penalties that the guys obviously got for the mistake they made yesterday. That made it a lot more straightforward and yeah, I was just managing the gap at the front and just keeping the car safe and trying to maximize and bring the car home."

Verstappen added: “We just didn’t have the pace this weekend to match them. I just tried to follow and it was alright in the end. I did the fastest lap which I was pretty happy about. At the end of the day, it’s still one extra point. Everything counts at the moment, but overall, this weekend wasn’t the best for us. There’s still two races to go, a lot of things can happen still.”

Hamilton and Verstappen have finished 1-2 at 12 of the 20 races, including at the last four: two in Verstappen’s favor, then two in Hamilton’s favor. Eight points split them with just 52 now up for grabs

Verstappen's lead in the championship was trimmed from 14 points to eight with races at Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi remaining.

Meanwhile, it was a race to remember for two-time champion Alonso. After a wait of more than seven years, during which time there have been a litany of setbacks, incidents and outings in other categories—notably the Indianapolis 500, Le Mans and the Dakar Rally after initially exiting Formula 1 after 2018—Alonso finally returned to the Formula 1 podium.

Photo credit: Lars Baron - Getty Images
Photo credit: Lars Baron - Getty Images

The last time Alonso finished up there, Hamilton was a one-time champion and Verstappen had yet to start his first Formula 1 race. Alonso achieved the podium by qualifying fifth, then moving up to third thanks to penalties elsewhere. He held the spot by running a one-stop strategy, fending off two-stopping Sergio Perez, and profiting when Valtteri Bottas’ attempts at also stopping just once failed due to a front-left tire blowout at the high-energy Losail track.

“It feels good, obviously a long wait from the last podium, 2014,” said Alpine's Alonso. “Your career sometimes goes up and down, I had wonderful moments, two or three years ago, winning Le Mans, winning the World Endurance Championship. But coming back now, in preparation for 2022, and the new rules and to have this podium now at the end of the year feels really nice and I think we are more ready than what we were 10 months ago.”

The on-track action this weekend almost took a back seat amid spats between senior figures from Mercedes and Red Bull. Their chiefs Toto Wolff and Christian Horner had a war of words, with the threat of a protest that never materialized, and the situation escalated to the extent that Horner was summoned to the stewards. Pre-race, Horner told Sky Sports F1 that he was unhappy over the actions of a “rogue marshal” in the incident that left Verstappen with a grid penalty.

Horner was issued an official warning over his comment, under Article 12 of the International Sporting Code that relates to questioning the integrity of officials, and offered an apology. He also offered to participate in the FIA’s Stewards Program in February and that has been accepted.

“I’d like to make it clear that marshals do a wonderful job and our sport could not operate without them volunteering their time, so if any offense was caused I unreservedly apologize, my frustration was with the decision that had been made and not with any individual,” Horner said, backpedalling.

F1 Qatar Grand Prix

Results

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 57 laps

  2. Max Verstappen, Red Bull +25.7 seconds

  3. Fernando Alonso, Alpine +59.4

  4. Sergio Perez, Red Bull +1:02.3

  5. Esteban Ocon, Alpine +1:20.5

  6. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin +1:21.2

  7. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari +1:21.9

  8. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari +1:23.1

  9. Lando Norris, McLaren +1 lap

  10. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin +1 lap

  11. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri +1 lap

  12. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren +1 lap

  13. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri +1 lap

  14. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo +1 lap

  15. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo +1 lap

  16. Mick Schumacher, Haas +1 lap

  17. George Russell, Williams +2 laps

  18. Nikita Mazepin, Haas +2 laps

  19. Nicholas Latifi, Williams +7 laps

  20. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes +9 laps

Updated Driver Standings

  1. Max Verstappen 351.5

  2. Lewis Hamilton 343.5

  3. Valtteri Bottas 203

  4. Sergio Perez 190

  5. Lando Norris 153

  6. Charles Leclerc 152

  7. Carlos Sainz Jr. 145.5

  8. Daniel Ricciardo 105

  9. Pierre Gasly 92

  10. Fernando Alonso 77

  11. Esteban Ocon 60

  12. Sebastian Vettel 43

  13. Lance Stroll 34

  14. Yuki Tsunoda 20

  15. George Russell 16

  16. Kimi Raikkonen 10

  17. Nicholas Latifi 7

  18. Antonio Giovinazzi 1

  19. Mick Schumacher 0

  20. Robert Kubicz 0

  21. Nikita Mazepin 0

Updated Constructors' Championship

  1. Mercedes 546.5

  2. Red Bull 541.5

  3. Ferrari 297.5

  4. McLaren 258

  5. Alpine 137

  6. AlphaTauri 112

  7. Aston Martin 77

  8. Williams 23

  9. Alfa Romeo 11

  10. Haas 0

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