2023 Qatar Grand Prix Takeaways
The scorching heat of the Qatar Grand Prix radiated across the grid over the weekend. Max Verstappen followed up his championship-clinching Sprint victory with a P1 performance to claim his 14th victory of the 2023 campaign. Many predicted another Dutchman victory, but Formula 1 fans and bettors were treated to an exciting race before heading west for the first-ever Las Vegas Grand Prix. Before we prepare for the next race, Nitrobetting highlights the top 2023 Qatar Grand Prix storylines and the significant narratives that went our way.
Key Takeaways from the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix
McLaren Scores Another Double Podium
Oscar Piastri locked in his season-best finish and first career P2 as a rookie. No one expected him to challenge for a podium finish, especially after qualifying sixth on Friday. He was fired up from his first-ever Sprint victory on Saturday. His pace translated well in Sunday’s race and capitalized on Fernando Alonso avoiding the Mercedes clash. The Aussie driver jumped to second on the first lap and did well to maintain the position.
The MCL60 vastly improved over the 2023 season. Piastri’s tire management looked good, although luck was on his side as McLaren ordered both drivers to hold the position. Even after his first stop, Norris communicated his confidence in the car’s pace. He got within a second and a half of his teammate in the closing stages as McLaren feared George Russell’s late soft tire change.
Nevertheless, Piastri survived the intense heat to deliver a career-best result. It was a weekend filled with firsts for the 22-year-old as he helped his team bag points and put up a huge marker for his team and the rest of the sport. He closed the gap between him and lead driver Max Verstappen to sub-five seconds at the flag.
The deficit is now down to 11 points and McLaren can easily snatch fourth place on the Constructor Standings from Aston Martin. McLaren’s trend towards the final stretch of the season is nothing short of impressive. We look forward to a possible Grand Prix win from the duo as they try to maintain the pace heading back to the United States for the first-ever Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Early Disappointment for Mercedes
The two Mercedes collided as soon as the first turn saw the W14s. Both cars were off to a great start as Russell and Hamilton qualified second and third for Sunday’s race. However, their Turn 1 contact led the seven-time World Champion to a DNF. There appears to be zero doubt that Hamilton was at fault for the crash with teammate George Russell. The incident also caused George to drop several places. It forced Russell to an early pit, but the Englishman stayed composed to finish the night in fourth place.
Hamilton was the biggest loser in Qatar. The Mercedes duo could’ve produced results that bring them way ahead of Ferrari in the 2023 Constructor Standings. Their only saving grace for this narrative was Carlos Sainz missing out on the race and Leclerc finishing behind Russell. Mercedes can maintain the lead if they can bring both cars to the finish line moving forward.
A Testing Night Around the Losail Circuit
Williams didn’t expect to do well around Qatar but the FW45s ran strong in the first part of the race. But, the taxing heat took its toll on Logan Sargeant. The American driver parked his car just under 20 laps from the checkered flag. He was visibly struggling from the heat after getting out of his car. He’d already sustained flu-like symptoms earlier in the week, which intensified over the weekend. Albon ended his stint in P13 while Sargeant logged his sixth DNF of 2023. Both drivers visited the medical center to get themselves examined in the wake of an exhausting race.
Oscar Piastri visibly struggled as he stood out of his car. He had to catch his breath as David Coulthard conducted the post-race interview. Piastri crashed on the cooldown room floor as soon as he entered. This was only a snippet of how grueling the Middle Eastern heat can be. Reports say that several drivers needed medical attention in light of the conditions. We also heard Alonso request water to cool his body during a pit stop. We also saw a few drivers put their visors up during the straights hoping to catch some cool air.
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