Piastri takes sprint win in Qatar as Verstappen is crowned 2023 world champion
It was an eventful Saturday in Qatar overnight as Oscar Piastri won his first ever F1 ‘race’ while Dutchman Max Verstappen finally claimed his third World Championship.
Piastri took pole in Sprint Qualifying ahead of his McLaren teammate Lando Norris, before fighting off a challenge from the Mercedes of George Russell and survived three safety car periods to claim his first taste of victory in Formula 1 in his rookie season.
And while it may not quite be the main race victory that every driver seeks, it will fill him with all amounts of confidence heading into the main race early tomorrow morning Australian time in which he will start the race in sixth place.
(Photo by Grand Prix 247)
Verstappen was second for Red Bull, which despite being only the second time in 2023 that a Red Bull has not finished on the top step of a podium in either the Sprint or main race, was enough for him to claim his third consecutive World Championship.
The Red Bull driver only needed to claim three points in the Sprint to confirm the Championship, but with his teammate Sergio Perez being taken out in the race by Esteban Ocon, his victory was assured no matter what the result.
His third title puts him in the company of Ayrton Senna, Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, Niki Lauda and his girlfriend’s father Nelson Piquet as three-time F1 World Champions.
He will also be buoyed on by the fact he will start the main race from Pole Position, after setting the fastest time in Friday’s qualifying session ahead of the two Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
Elsewhere in the sprint, Norris recovered from a poor start to claim the final spot on the Sprint podium, ahead of Russell, who looked on for a Sprint win until his tyres fell away in the closing stages. Hamilton was fifth for Mercedes ahead of Carlos Sainz for Ferrari, Alex Albon for Williams and Fernando Alonso for Aston Martin.
Charles Leclerc finished the race in seventh for Ferrari but was later dropped down to 12th with a five-second penalty for multiple track limit violations.
With Piastri breaking his win duck and Verstappen with the title secured, all eyes will remain on the sport for the last six races to see just whether or not there will be more relaxed racing with nothing on the line, or whether the status quo will remain.
1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull 1:23.778 2 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.441 3 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.527 4 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.591 5 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.646 6 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.762 7 Pierre GASLY Alpine +0.775 8 Esteban OCON Alpine +0.985 9 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +1.280 10 Lando NORRIS McLaren NO TIME 11 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri 1:25.301 12 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.027 13 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull +0.161 14 Alexander ALBON Williams +0.406 15 Nico HULKENBERG Haas +0.482 16 Logan SARGEANT Williams 1:26.210 17 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.135 18 Liam LAWSON AlphaTauri +0.425 19 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas +1.036 20 ZHOU Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1.222
SPRINT RACE RESULT
1 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren 19 laps 2 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull +1.871 3 Lando NORRIS McLaren +8.497 4 George RUSSELL Mercedes +11.036 5 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +17.314 6 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +18.806 7 Alexander ALBON Williams +19.864 8 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +21.180 9 Pierre GASLY Alpine +21.742 10 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +22.208 11 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +22.863 12 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +24.860* 13 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas +24.970 14 ZHOU Guanyu Alfa Romeo +26.868 15 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +29.523*
*5-second time penalty applied post-race.
This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here