F1 2023: Verstappen takes Qatar GP pole as Norris, Piastri penalties promote Mercedes duo

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For the 18th round and the third Sprint weekend of the 2023 season, F1 headed 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, Max Verstappen looks all set to win his third consecutive Drivers’ Championship this weekend, with only 3 points required for him to clench the trophy.
Furthermore, Verstappen managed to secure the pole position at the 2023 F1 Qatar Grand Prix while McLaren duo Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri both received grid penalties for breaching track limits, thereby helping Mercedes teammates Russel and Hamilton both gain positions.
Here’s how the 2023 Formula 1 Qatar GP Qualifying went down –
2023 F1 Qatar GP Qualifying 1
After going the fastest in the only practice session this weekend, Max Verstappen looked strong in Qualifying as well. The Dutch driver led Q1 with a lap time of 1:25.007, ahead of Norris on second and Fernando Alonso on third. Oscar Piastri took P4 while Mercedes’ George Russell finished fifth fastest. Logan Sargeant, Lance Stroll, Liam Lawson, Kevin Magnussen and Zhou Guanyu were eliminated in the first qualifying.
2023 F1 Qatar GP Qualifying 2

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The second qualifying came as a surprise with Hamilton being the fastest, posting a time of 1:24.381, with Verstappen on second, about one-tenth of a second behind. Norris and Piastri occupied P3 and P4 respectively, while George Russell secured fifth. It was also a shocker for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who did not make it to Q3, while Sergio Perez’s fastest lap time was deleted for track limits. Apart from Sainz (P12) and Perez (P13), Yuki Tsunoda, Alex Albon and Nico Hulkenberg did not make it to Q3.

2023 F1 Qatar GP Qualifying 3
Max Verstappen again went fastest in the final qualifying with a lap time of 1:23.778, with Lando Norris behind him on second and George Russell on third. Oscar Piastri took P4, and Hamilton was on fifth. However, after the Qualifying both the McLaren drivers had their lap times deleted for exceeding track limits, with Norris moving down to P10 and Oscar Piastri taking sixth. This helped teammates Russell and Hamilton occupy P2 and P3 respectively.
Alonso starts on P4, ahead of Charles Leclerc. Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon start on the fourth row alongside each other, while Valterri Bottas will be starting from ninth.
Stay tuned to TOI Auto for the 2023 Formula 1 Qatar GP Sprint and Race reports.

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