F1 2023: Verstappen crowned World Champion at Qatar GP Sprint despite Piastri win

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The 18th round of the 2023 Formula One season comes from 5.419 km long Lusail International Circuit for the Qatar Grand Prix – the fourth Sprint weekend of the season. McLaren duo started the Sprint race today on the front row, making it the first 1-2 for the team since Brazil 2012. Despite not winning the race, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen became the World Champion for the third consecutive year, also making it the first Saturday Championship win since 1987!

The first lap saw Liam Lawson going into the gravel, resulting in the deployment of safety car.

While Oscar Piastri managed to keep the lead, his partner Lando Norris had demoted to P6. However, George Russell managed to overtake Piastri after the race resumed on P3, thereby taking the lead of the pack. The safety car had to be recalled on lap 3 after Logan Sargeant’s Williams went into the gravel.
Here are all the point scorers at the 2023 F1 Qatar Grand Prix Sprint –
1. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
3. Lando Norris (McLaren)
4. George Russell (Mercedes)
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
6. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
7. Alex Albon (Williams)
8. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)
Lap 11 saw both McLarens make a few moves, with Piastri moving up to P1, and Norris moving to fifth ahead of Leclerc. However, the drama wasn’t over yet. Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon went into each other, with both ending in the gravel. Replays showed Hulkenberg was also involved, bringing an early end to his race too. Perez’s early departure meant that Max Verstappen was crowned the World Champion even before the Sprint ended.

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The last few laps saw Verstappen going up to P2 with Russell’s soft tyres now past their peak, however, Piastri managed to bring it home as his first win in Formula 1 in his rookie season. Verstappen now joins the likes of Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, Jack Brabham, and Jackie Stewart with three World Championships. Meanwhile Piastri’s teammate Norris managed to finish on third.
Charles Leclerc and Lance Stroll were handed five-second time penalties after the race for repeatedly exceeding track limits at the Qatar Grand Prix. While the Ferrari driver had finished seventh and in points, he was dropped down to 12th after the penalty. Meanwhile Stroll did not finish in points to begin with so the penalty made little difference. Albon moved up to P7, while veteran Alonso took home one point as well.
Stay tuned to TOI Auto for the 2023 F1 Qatar GP race report tomorrow.

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