Max Verstappen steps out of his car after winning 2023 Qatar Grand prix

2023 Qatar Grand Prix

A day after sealing his third world championship in the sprint race, Max Verstappen took his 14th grand prix victory of the season. It was comfortable in the sense of being able just to pace himself back to the following McLaren of Oscar Piastri (winner of the sprint race). But it was far from comfortable in the extreme heat of the cockpit on an October evening in Qatar. The physical challenge was right on the edge of feasible. Logan Sargeant retired ill, Esteban Ocon threw up in his helmet, George Russell felt on the verge of losing consciousness towards the end, Alex Albon and Lance Stroll headed straight to the medical centre after the race with heat exhaustion. It was a few weeks too early to be racing in Qatar.

What made the physical challenge even more extreme was that the race was a flat-out sprint in between three pit stops, just like in tyre war years. This time it was imposed, though. A potential delamination of the compound from the carcass resulting from being run at high speed over the new ‘pyramid’ kerbs meant an 18-lap limit was imposed on each set of tyres. Which over a 57-lap race meant three stops. But 18 laps was way before the performance of the tyre had significantly degraded. So the fastest way to run the race was to run flat-out. Which was something of a novelty after years of tyre management. But also extremely arduous in the heat around this super-fast track.

But regardless of any of that, the McLaren was genuinely almost Red Bull fast around here. Lando Norris had both his Q3 laps deleted for track limits and would otherwise have started second less than 0.3sec behind Verstappen even with a scruffy lap. His best sectors suggested he could have contended for pole had either of his laps been as error-free as Verstappen’s first Q3 effort. In the hotter conditions of sprint qualifying the following day the McLarens locked out the front row, Piastri on pole after Norris blew what would have been pole at the final corner. But both of them marginally faster than Verstappen. That was the foundation for Piastri’s sprint win. Putting aside the anomaly of Singapore, this is the hardest Verstappen’s Red Bull had been pushed all season. The MCL60 was genuinely close here. In the Sunday race Verstappen’s margin over Piastri was never more than eight seconds.

More on 2023 Qatar Grand Prix

Race Results

Qualifying

Sprint Race

Sprint Shootout (Qualifying)

Circuit - Losail

Country

Qatar

Location

Lusail

Type

Permanent road course

Length

3.343 (Miles)

Record

Max Verstappen (Red Bull RB16B-Honda), 1m23.196, 144.656 mph, F1, 2021

First Race

2004 Qatar MotoGP

3,420

Championships

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19,481

Results

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25,368

Drivers

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14,588

Teams

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922

Circuits

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