Mercedes Requests Review Of Verstappen/Hamilton Battle
The seven-time world champion is now within eight points of the Dutch driver after an excellent drive that saw him dominate from start to finish after claiming pole position with a sublime qualifying performance.
Verstappen did his best to limit the damage though, rising from seventh on the grid after a five-place penalty to finish second, while also salvaging his day further with a valuable late point added for the fastest lap. There was some nostalgia too, as Fernando Alonso claimed a first Formula 1 podium in seven years to deliver for Alpine, doing enough to seize the highest rating in Indy Sport’s Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings.
Verstappen appeared to be upbeat after the race, perhaps seizing a morale victory with the additional bonus point for the fastest lap: “Our starting position was a bit compromised but luckily we had a really good start. I got quite quickly back to second and to get the fast lap was very nice. It’s going to be difficult to the end but that’s nice, it keeps things exciting. This track is a lot of fun to drive. it’s really quick. I feel good, it’s going to be a tight battle until the end.”
Here’s all the latest F1 news and reaction from Qatar as the builld-up to Saudi Arabia begins:
Hamilton promises AAA game at Saudi Arabia
Lewis Hamilton has promised that he and his Mercedes team will be firing on all cylinders by the time they arrive in Saudi Arabia for the penultimate race in just under a fortnight’s time.
The seven-time world champion has taken two excellent victories at the most recent grands prix at Interlagos and Losail, and says he feels “fitter than ever” before in his career.
“I love the close battle and the pressure, the demands it puts on you and the whole team,” the 36-year-old told Sky Sports F1. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it but these next two races need even better performances, so we will be bringing our AAA game for those ones. The last two weeks have been fantastic but there is no time for celebrations.”
Dan Austin22 November 2021 11:30
Alonso’s first Alpine podium and why athletes define the way we view time
Fernando Alonso took his first podium in 104 Formula 1 races on Sunday afternoon after a stellar, consistent drive gave him third-place ahead of Sergio Pérez and team-mate Esteban Ocon.
The Spaniard took a two-year sabbatical from the sport in 2018, after a dreadful second spell with McLaren yielded a best result of a fifth-place finish, vowing to challenge for podiums and race wins. Qatar was his first realistic shot at the top three and the 40-year-old grasped it with both hands.
Alonso is a great example of an athlete who career has spanned different era, the kind of sportsperson whose peaks and troughs define the way that fans experience time.
Read the full story on Alonso, Roger Federer, athletes who capture the public consciousness and how they make us confront our own ageing below:
Dan Austin22 November 2021 11:26
Williams drivers bemoan punctures
Both George Russell and Nicholas Latifi suffered punctures for Williams in the latter stages of the Qatar Grand Prix, with the Canadian forced to retire after the incident caused damage to the floor of the car.
The team had discussed the possibility of punctures in their pre-race strategy meeting, but both drivers were surprised by the timing of their tyre failures.
“No warning, but we actually anticipated that prior to the race,” Russell told reporters post-race. “We didn’t have enough pace today. The high-speed corners where you need to manage, the corners leading onto the straights, and the guys were already right behind me in the high-speed corners, so if I manage any more, they would have just overtaken me regardless.
“When I heard it was the tyre, I was like okay, well mine feels fine, I don’t even feel front-left limited,” Latifi explained. “I think we had nothing to lose trying to make that strategy work, especially with the Alfas behind us. They were our race and it just wasn’t to be.”
Dan Austin22 November 2021 11:13
Work continuing on Saudi Arabia circuit with F1 confident
Formula 1 heads to the Red Sea town of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia as the country hosts its first ever Grand Prix.
F1’s decision to race there has been criticised by human rights organisations including Amnesty International, and Lewis Hamilton is set to continue sporting the rainbow design helmet he debuted in Qatar in support of the local LGBTQIA+ community.
The event at Jeddah is a temporary street circuit which is still being built, but the sport is confident preparations will be complete in time.
“The track will be done, the priority we know is there,” said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali. “But you will see the level of show that they’re going to bring there too. They are all excited, a lot of work has been done. So it’s really good.”
Dan Austin22 November 2021 11:02
Gasly frustrated by ‘shocking’ Alpha Tauri speed in Qatar
Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly started from the front row at Losail but finished outside of the points after his two-stop strategy saw him leap-frogged by those who were able to make a one-stop work.
The Frenchman has enjoyed a stellar season so far but this was his most disappointing Sunday of the campaign, and he said the lack of the pace in the car was a significant issue.
“I think it’s fair to say we just didn’t have the pace the whole race,” Gasly told reporters at the circuit. “Our pace was shocking, we were just nowhere. We both started, with Yuki, in the top ten and both finished outside the top ten with no pace the whole race.
“Honestly, I don’t have the answers. Even when I was trying to push as hard as I could with the two-stop strategy we had, I never could match the McLaren and the Alpines. Very frustrating.”
Dan Austin22 November 2021 10:51
Verstappen not surprised by penalty as he never gets “presents” from FIA
Max Verstappen told reporters post-race in Qatar that was “not surprised” by the penalty he received for ignoring yellow flags in qualifying. The Dutchman disagreed with the decision but bemoaned treatment he seemed to suggest was unfair from the FIA.
“I knew I was going to get a penalty already yesterday evening, so I was prepared for that. I never get presents from them [the FIA],” Verstappen said.
“When I saw the result, I was not shocked or surprised. You just focus, you have to pass a few more cars than you normally would like, but luckily it worked out really well on lap one already.”
Dan Austin22 November 2021 10:41
Masi furious with Horner’s outburst
FIA Race Director Michael Masi was furious with Christian Horner after the Red Bull team principal’s outburst against the governing body before the Qatar Grand Prix.
Regarding the penalty given to Max Verstappen for ignoring yellow flags in qualifying on Saturday afternoon, he Horner told Sky Sports F1: “To be honest with you, we are really struggling to understand it. It looks like a complete balls-up. I think it’s just a rogue marshal that stuck a flag out and he hasn’t been instructed to by the FIA. They’ve got to have control of their marshals. It’s as simple as that.”
He was given a formal warning by the FIA in the aftermath of the race for breaching the international sporting code, and apologised live on television for any offence caused.
Masi was quoted by The Race as saying: “I think you should not attack any person, particularly when we have thousands of volunteer marshals around the world, that give up a huge amount of time globally, without them this sport that everyone has very close to their heart [could not continue]. I will defend every volunteer official and every official at every racetrack around the world, that [kind of comment from Horner] is not accepted.””
Dan Austin22 November 2021 10:26
Pirelli gives explanation for tyre punctures
Three drivers — Valtteri Bottas, Nicholas Latifi, and George Russell — suffered punctures to their front left tyres after trying to manage a one-stop strategy at Losail on Sunday, while McLaren’s Lando Norris made it to the pits just in time to avoid one of his own.
Qatar was hosting its first ever Formula 1 race, and as with any new circuit where meaningful data is in short supply, tyre wear was almost impossible to predict.
Tyre manufacturer Pirelli’s Head of F1 Mario Isola offered the company’s explanation for the failures, and suggested the team’s need to take responsibility.
He told Autosport: “We had a few teams trying a one-stop strategy, because here it’s difficult to overtake, they didn’t want to lose time in the pit. But the reason why we predicted a two-stop strategy was mainly because of the data on tyre wear that we collected on Friday, and the wear on the front-left was quite high. So today for example, the front-left and the rear-left were both worn to 100 percent. But the reason why we had a puncture on just the front-left has to be investigated.”
“Clearly with a tyre that is worn and is less protected against impact when you continue to punish the tyre.”
Dan Austin22 November 2021 10:15
Red Bull inadvertently woke up Hamilton’s “lion”, says Wolff
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says Red Bull made an error in the F1 title race at Brazil by waking up Lewis Hamilton’s “lion.”
Max Verstappen drove the seven-time world champion off the road at Interlagos, leading to a week of back-and-forth jibes between the respective camps, while Hamilton took two strong wins to cut the Dutchman’s lead to eight points.
“They have woken up the lion on the Saturday in Interlagos, he is absolutely on it and brutal,” Wolff said. “I think when adversity happens then it takes him to a place where he is able to mobilise superhero powers and it was the adversity that triggered that in Interlagos.”
“He’s cold-blooded and on it, this is the best Lewis we have seen in the past and he is right there.”
Dan Austin22 November 2021 10:04
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings: Lewis Hamilton dominates to cut Max Verstappen lead
Max Verstappen moved up from seventh on the grid after a five-place penalty to finish second, and take a crucial point for fastest lap, while Fernando Alonso earned his first Formula 1 podium in seven years with a superb drive for Alpine.
Jack Rathborn22 November 2021 09:44