until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Mercedes drivers collide in Qatar GP dominated by Verstappen

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

Max Verstappen dominated Formula 1’s second-ever Qatar Grand Prix, which started with Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell colliding at Turn 1.

Front-row duo Verstappen and Russell opted for medium tyres for the start, but with fresh softs Hamilton looked for a chance to pass them both around the outside of Turn 1.

He went to the left of his team-mate, with Verstappen marginally ahead and to the right of Russell, but when Hamilton turned into the first corner he collided with the front left of Russell’s car.

Their contact damaged Russell’s front wing and sent Hamilton into the gravel and ended his race on the spot.

The stewards will be investigating the incident after the race, one that Hamilton appeared to take some responsibility for after the race.

“In the heat of the moment, it was obviously frustrating because I felt this tap from the rear end, but I don’t think George had anywhere to go, it was just an unfortunate scenario,” Hamilton said.

“I’m happy to take responsibility because that’s my role. I need to go back and look at it, but I don’t feel like it was George’s fault.”

Their clash cleared the way for Qatar sprint race winner Oscar Piastri to slot into second place.

Piastri was embroiled in his own intra-team controversy at the other end of the grand prix as he found himself in a net second but with a fast-charging McLaren team-mate Lando Norris behind him.

McLaren told Norris to “hold position”, a call he questioned with but obeyed.

Russell had been forced to yield second to the McLarens with seven laps to go owing to the 18-lap stint limit imposed in the wake of tyre problems in Qatar.

He opted for softs for his final stint but couldn’t make any impression on the McLarens and had to settle for fourth.

Verstappen similarly faced no such competition out front, although a slower final pitstop (just over four seconds) reduced his final gap to Piastri to 4.8 seconds.

Norris took third ahead of Russell, the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso - who survived a trip through the gravel at Turn 15 but faces a post-race investigation for how he rejoined the track after his off.

Esteban Ocon took seventh for Alpine ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who matched his best result of the season in eighth place for Alfa Romeo.

Sergio Perez battled through two five-second time penalties and a pitlane start on his way to ninth place on the road in the second Red Bull - only to receive a third penalty after the race.

He therefore dropped to 10th, with Zhou Guanyu promoted to ninth - giving Alfa Romeo its first double points finish since the Canadian GP last year.

Time penalties for track limits cost Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly points finishes.

Logan Sargeant chose to park his Williams with just under 20 laps of the race remaining owing to feeling sick due to extreme heat and physicality of the race. His team-mate Alex Albon, another to fall foul of track limits, came home 13th.

Carlos Sainz couldn’t even make the start of the race due to a fuel system issue that Ferrari discovered earlier on Sunday.

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