F1 2023: Verstappen leads Qatar GP FP1, looks set to seal Championship tomorrow

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For the 18th round of the 2023 Formula One season, the grid heads to the 5.419 km long Lusail International Circuit for the Qatar Grand Prix. With Red Bull Racing already having secured the Constructors’ trophy at the Japan GP, posterboy Max Verstappen looks all set to win his third consecutive Drivers’ Championship this weekend, even before the main race!
The Qatar GP is the third Sprint weekend of the season, with two more yet to happen. With a total of 180 points still up for grabs this season, Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez sits on second with 177 points. As a result, Verstappen only needs to finish sixth or higher in the Sprint race regardless of where his teammate finishes to secure his third-straight World Championship title. In short, the Dutch driver needs just 3 points to seal the deal.

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The inclusion of Sprint Race means that there is only one practice sessions before Qualifying. Here are the top 10 finishers at the 2023 F1 Qatar Grand Prix Free Practice 1 –
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:27.428
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.334
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.481
4. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) +0.491
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.588
6. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +0.599
7. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) +0.743
8. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.908
9. Oscar Piastri (McLaren) +0.952
10. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.013
Verstappen led the FP1 with the fastest lap time of 1:27.428, ahead of Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc respectively. Fernando Alonso took fourth, with Max’s teammate Perez occupying P5. Yuki Tsunoda was on sixth, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and George Russell on seventh and eighth resprctively. McLaren teammates Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris rounded off the top 10.
Stay tuned to TOI Auto for the 2023 F1 Qatar GP Qualifying, Sprint and Race reports later this weekend.

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