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F1 Qatar Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton cuts the deficit down to eight

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F1 Qatar Grand Prix:Lewis Hamilton cuts the deficit down to eight

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton secured the victory in Formula One’s first ever Qatar Grand Prix as multiple drivers suffered tyre failures in the latter stages.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen suffered a five-place grid penalty, and started P7, after failing to respect double yellow flags when Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly suffered a puncture in Saturday’s qualifying session.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas suffered a three-place grid penalty, and started P6, after the Finn failed to respect single yellow flags for the same reason as Verstappen.

Verstappen led the drivers championship with 332.5 points to his name, 14 points more than his championship rival, Hamilton (318.5pts).

 

How the race unfolded

It was a great start from Hamilton, who immediately covered off Gasly and opted for the inside line into turn one. Throughout the middle sector, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso passed Gasly to get himself into P2 while Verstappen fought to steal P4 away from McLaren’s Lando Norris. Hamilton led by 1.8 seconds over Alonso as the seven-time world champion completed the first lap.

However, Bottas suffered a poor start and plummeted down the field to P11 from P6.

On the exit of the final corner, Gasly ran wide as the field ventured towards the pit straight to end the third lap. This allowed Verstappen to have a great run down the straight and made an easy overtake on the Red Bull sister team to gain third place. A lap later, it was a similar move from Verstappen, but on second-placed Alonso.

Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda was the first driver to pit at the end of the ninth lap, to swap his red-stripped, soft compound tyres for the yellow-stripped, medium compounds. Due to the early stop, the young Japanese driver returned to the track at the bottom of the field.

By lap 16, Hamilton remained out in front, seven-seconds ahead of Verstappen (P2), while Alonso remained out in the final podium position.

Verstappen was the first driver, of the front runners, to pit on the end of the 17th lap. The Dutchman swapped his medium tyres for the, white-stripped, hard compound tyres. Mercedes and Hamilton responded a lap later and completed the same tyre change.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc’s locked up as the Monegasque, Perez and Alonso ventured into turn one, on lap 27. While Alonso was able slip through, Leclerc squeezed off Perez’s advance but as the Mexican had the inside line, he was able to gain P5 from the #16 Ferrari.

As Hamilton completed the 32nd lap of the Qatar GP, Haas’ Nikita Mazepin and Bottas were the only two drivers left out on track that hadn’t made their first mandatory stop. However, Bottas suffered a puncture on his front left tyre, halfway around the Losail circuit, and had to limp home to the pit lane for a fresh front wing and set of hard tyres.

Verstappen was called into the pit at the end of his 41st lap, and exchanged his hard tyres for a fresh set of the medium tyres. It was a blistering stop for Red Bull as the championship leader was only stationary for 2.1 seconds.

In a similar fashion to the first stop, Hamilton and Mercedes reacted to Verstappen’s pit call a lap later and returned to the track eight seconds ahead of the #33 Red Bull. However, the #44 Mercedes was fitted with a scrubbed set of yellow-stripped tyres – the same set he took to the grid, prior to the race.

As Lando Norris came in to pit for another set of tyres, Bottas was called into the pit lane to retire his W12 on lap 51. However, on the same lap, Williams’ George Russell brought out the double yellow flags in the final sector as the Briton suffered a front left tyre failure.

A lap later, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi suffered a puncture down the pit straight which meant the Canadian had to try and limp home. Fortunately, he managed to park up at the entry of a service road on the exit of turn six.

On lap 55, race control deployed the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) – seemingly to push Latifi’s FW45 off the track. Verstappen popped into the pit lane to exchange his used medium tyres for the soft compound. As the VSC ended on the final lap, it meant Hamilton couldn’t fight back to try and regain the fastest lap point.

 

Podium

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
  2. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
  3. Fernando Alonso, Alpine

 

Driver of the Day: Fernando Alonso, Alpine (28% of the vote)

Fastest Lap: Max Verstappen, Red Bull: 1:23.196

 

We hope you enjoyed the article ‘F1 Qatar Grand Prix:Lewis Hamilton cuts the deficit down to eight.’ Do you believe Mercedes made the right call with Valtteri Bottas? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Kamron is currently a third-year student, studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland. While he enjoys watching his local teams: Newcastle United and Whitley Warriors, Kamron also enjoys other sports such as Formula One and the NBA.

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