Hamilton was able to control the pace at the front of the field after a clinical start from pole position with an indomitable lights-to-flag win.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has closed the gap on title rival Max Verstappen after a dominant victory in the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix at the Losail International Circuit, with Verstappen recovering from a grid drop that saw him start P7 to finish second, with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso completing the podium. Hamilton was able to control the pace at the front of the field after a clinical start from pole position with an indomitable lights-to-flag win, his second in a row after Brazil. But, while Hamilton was impressive, so was Verstappen, who was demoted from second to seventh place on the grid for failing to obey double-waved yellow flags in qualifying.
Verstappen, on the other hand, shrugged off the disappointment, jumping to P4 at the start before quickly moving up to second, then following Hamilton home to limit the damage to his title lead, which now stands at eight points thanks to Verstappen’s fastest lap bonus point.
Meanwhile, Alonso returned to the podium for the first time since the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix, with the Spaniard executing an aggressive drive to hold off late-race pressure from Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to finish third. “Finally we got it,” said Alonso after the race. “I’m so happy for the team.”
Perez’s fourth-place finish was a good comeback considering he started P11, and he finished ahead of Esteban Ocon’s Alpine, with Lance Stroll taking P6 for Aston Martin.
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari finished seventh and eighth, respectively. Lando Norris took P9 after a late pit stop for the McLaren driver, while Sebastian Vettel took the final points-paying position for P10 – with Pierre Gasly failing to make a two-stop strategy work, dropping from P2 on the grid to P11, allowing Alpine to move ahead of AlphaTauri in the constructor’s championship table.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas took his own grid drop, falling from P3 to P6, before falling to 11th at the start and then suffering mid-race tyre issues – as did Williams’ George Russell and Nicholas Latifi – before being retired by Mercedes.
Even before the first Qatar Grand Prix began, Max Verstappen was demoted from P2 to P7 on the grid, and Valtteri Bottas from P3 to P6, for failing to respect yellow flags in qualifying – a double for Verstappen, a single for Bottas.
Verstappen, meanwhile, went the other way, benefiting from Carlos Sainz and Landris scrapping into Turn 1 to surge to P4, with only a chop from Fernando Alonso into Turn 2 stopping Verstappen from going to P3 – Alonso then passing Gasly to claim P2 in the same manoeuvre.
Hamilton was pulling away at the front, but crucially for Verstappen if he was to keep his race hopes alive, the Dutchman was quickly through on Gasly and Alonso to hold P2 by Lap 5 of 57, with only his title rival around four seconds ahead of him.