Doha, Nov 21 (MNN) Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix here on Sunday to close the gap to title rival Max Verstappen.
Verstappen recovered from a grid drop that saw him start P7 to finish second at Losail International Circuit, as Alpine’s Fernando Alonso took the final podium position.
After a clinical start from pole position, Hamilton was able to control the pace at the front of the field with in indomitable lights-to-flag win, his second in a row after Brazil. But while Hamilton was impressive, so too was Verstappen, who was dropped from P2 to seventh on the grid for failing to respect double waved yellow flags in qualifying.
Verstappen shrugged off the disappointment, though, jumping to P4 at the start before quickly making his way up to second, before following Hamilton home to limit the damage to his title lead, which now stands at eight points as Verstappen claimed the fastest lap bonus point.
Meanwhile, there was joy down at Alpine as Alonso returned to the podium for the first time since the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix, the Spaniard having executed an aggressive drive to survive late-race pressure from Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to take third.
Perez’s fourth place was a decent recovery considering he’d started P11, while he finished ahead of the Alpine of Esteban Ocon, with Lance Stroll taking P6 for Aston Martin.
The Ferrari pair of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were P7 and P8. Lando Norris took P9 after a late stop for the McLaren driver, as Sebastian Vettel took the final points-paying position for P10 – with Pierre Gasly failing to make a two-stop strategy work, dropping from P2 on the grid to P11, allowing Alpine to move clear of AlphaTauri in P5 in the standings.
Meanwhile, it was a day to forget for Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who took his own grid drop, dropping from P3 to P6, before falling to 11th at the start and then suffering mid-race tyre issues – as did Williams’ George Russell and Nicholas Latifi – before Mercedes retired him.
So, with just two races to go now, it’s Hamilton within touching distance of Verstappen in the drivers’ fight. Roll on Saudi Arabia.
POSITION TIME POINTS
1 Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes) 1:24:28.471 25
2 Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing) +25.743s 19
3 Fernando ALONSO (Alpine) +59.457s 15
4 Sergio PEREZ (Red Bull Racing) +62.306s 12
5 Esteban OCON (Alpine) +80.570s 10