5 Winners and 5 Losers from Qatar – Who impressed under the lights in Lusail?
Max Verstappen got the job done in Qatar, clinching his third world championship in commanding fashion. There was joy elsewhere in the paddock too, particularly if you were of the papaya variety, but not everyone left Doha in such high spirits. We’ve picked out five winners and five losers from the weekend's action at the Lusail International Circuit...
Winner: Max Verstappen
Second in Saturday’s Sprint was easily enough for Max Verstappen to clinch a third world title, moving the Dutchman up alongside greats including Ayrton Senna, Niki Lauda and Sir Jackie Stewart.
Though the title was already in the bag before Sunday’s race, Verstappen didn’t ease off the gas in the main event as he powered to his 14th win in 17 Grands Prix this season.
In doing so, he broke Sebastian Vettel’s record of most laps led in a single season – with five races still to go – and now leads Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez by a massive 200 points (the previous largest winning margin ever is 155, by Vettel in 2013).
It was a brutally dominant performance befitting of F1’s newest triple world champion.
Loser: Carlos Sainz
Carlos Sainz has been in fine form since the summer break, highlighted by scoring the only non-Red Bull win so far in 2023 with an impressive performance in Singapore.
But after finishing sixth in the Sprint, he didn’t get a chance to stretch the legs of his Prancing Horse in the race as a fuel-related problem could not be fixed in time for him to take his place on the grid.
With team mate Charles Leclerc finishing fifth, the Spaniard’s lead over the sister Ferrari is now just eight points heading to Austin.
Winner: Oscar Piastri
Oscar Piastri is fast making a name for himself in F1, the Australian following up a maiden Grand Prix podium in Japan by converting a Sprint race P1 starting slot into a win.
The McLaren racer backed that up with a brilliant drive from sixth on Sunday to take second – his best-ever result in a Grand Prix and his second podium on the bounce.
His haul of 41 points across Japan and Qatar is nearly half his total score for the whole season (83) and leaves him in a very comfortable ninth in the drivers’ championship.
Loser: Lewis Hamilton
Having said in the heat of the moment that Mercedes team mate George Russell had taken him out of the Grand Prix at Turn 1, Lewis Hamilton conceded later that he was to blame for the collision that forced him out of the race and sent Russell tumbling to the back of the field.
Hamilton’s decision to start on the soft tyres gave him some extra zip off the line, but as he attempted to go around Russell and pole-sitter Max Verstappen, he clipped the other Silver Arrows.
This was the first time Hamilton has retired on the opening lap since the 2022 Belgium Grand Prix – and only the sixth time in his 17-year career. It was also his first DNF in 2023, ending his run of scoring in every single race so far.
Winner: Lando Norris
Lando Norris was incredibly hard on himself as mistakes in both qualifying and the Sprint Shootout cost him front row grid slots.
But he recovered in both events to finish P3 the Sprint and third in the Grand Prix (having started the latter back in 10th) to score a third Grand Prix podium on the bounce and a career-best fifth of the season.
With Piastri second, this was McLaren’s second consecutive double podium – a feat they last achieved back in 2010 and which moves them to within 11 points of Aston Martin in the fight for P4 in the constructors’ championship.
Williams were buoyant on Saturday as Alex Albon scored an unexpected point in the Sprint – the first Williams have taken in the format since it was introduced in 2021.
However, their run of Grands Prix without a score extended to three as Logan Sargeant retired from the race after suffering “intense dehydration during the race, weakened by having flu-like symptoms earlier in the week."
Albon looked to be in a position to score points – but his pace fell away as the Grand Prix went on and he crossed the line 13th before a trip to the medical centre to be treated for acute heat exposure.
Winners: Alfa Romeo
This was the race Alfa Romeo have been longing for, with Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu and the team executing a near perfect race to secure their first double points finish of the season.
Bottas started inside the top 10 and improved one spot to finish eighth. Zhou recovered brilliantly from 19th to take ninth, equalling his best result of the season.
The result bumps the Swiss team above Haas into eighth in the constructors’ championship, with Williams their next target seven points ahead.
Loser: Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez is in a world of pain right now, the Mexican getting blown away by Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen – most recently in Sunday’s Grand Prix at Lusail.
Hamilton’s first-lap DNF opened the door for Perez to create some breathing space between him and the Mercedes driver in the fight for P2 in the drivers’ standings.
But instead, he couldn’t keep the car inside track limits and racked up a staggering 15 seconds in time penalties for a string of infringements.
He has now failed to reach the podium in each of the last three races and while he managed a single point in 10th to extend his lead over Hamilton to 30, he knows Red Bull expect far, far better from him.
Winner: Esteban Ocon
This was one of Esteban Ocon’s strongest drives of the season, the Alpine racer crossing the line seventh (a performance bettered only this year by third in Monaco).
It was his second successive points score, a result that moves him two behind team mate Pierre Gasly in the drivers’ standings and made all the more impressive considering he vomited inside his helmet with more than 40 laps still to go.
Losers: Aston Martin
Fernando Alonso made an uncharacteristic mistake in Sunday’s Grand Prix, skating across the gravel and rejoining to capture sixth (to follow a single point for eighth in the Sprint).
While he moves to within 11 points of third-placed Hamilton in the drivers’ standings, the ultimate pace of the car was no match for a McLaren team who are on a trajectory to overhaul Aston Martin in the constructors’ championship before the end of the season.
His team mate Lance Stroll failed to progress from Q1 for the fourth consecutive Grand Prix and left a fifth consecutive race weekend without a point for his efforts.