The Formula 1 title race is set to go down to the wire, with Lewis Hamilton triumphing in Qatar and reducing Max Verstappen’s lead to just eight points with two races to spare.
Third place saw a return to glory for Fernando Alonso, seven years after his last podium. The Alpine driver started from third and finished ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, whose points help Red Bull close to within five of Mercedes in the Constructor’s championship.
Lewis Hamilton – 10
Unstoppable. In these last few races, Hamilton is returning to perform at the highest level, with a lights-to-flag race, commanded from lap one.
Verstappen’s grid penalty meant he could build a small lead over his rival in the time that the Dutchman spent returning second.
He only had to manage it to the end, claiming a second successive win and bringing the momentum back into his favour.
Max Verstappen – 9
Verstappen is really going the extra mile to try and defend his championship lead. He was penalised for ignoring yellow flags on Saturday, dropping from P2 on the grid to P7.
He shot up to P4 and reached second place in a matter of laps, trying to vainly chase Hamilton’s faster Mercedes.
His fastest lap helps him keep a small advantage, losing only six points and going into the last two races by still holding the upper hand.
Fernando Alonso – 10
With a magnificent performance, his days of wait are over and Alonso can finally celebrate a well-deserved podium.
His race was commading, overtaking Pierre Gasly with an incredible manoeuvre and managing his tryes before faster cars caught up to him.
This allowed him to set blistering pace to defend from Lando Norris and Perez, who were closing in fast, but could do little to stop the Spaniard. This is why Alonso is still one of the best drivers in the sport.
Sergio Perez – 6
Whilst Verstappen is having a go at fighting Hamilton, Perez is softly finishing a minute behind the leader, unable to put behind an Alpine car.
His Saturday woes returned, with an awful show in Q2 that saw him qualify 11th. He ensured that at least he could recover in the race, with a series of overtakes to return back to the front.
He proved unable to fend off Alonso and inevitably only finished fourth, albeit guaranteeing some points for the constructor fight.
Esteban Ocon – 7.5
Fifth would be an incredible result, was it not for the fact that he finished 21 seconds behind Alonso on the same car.
However, Ocon proved a great number two for Alpine, fighting in the points and trying to do his best to hang on in the mix, which was rewarding in the end.
He got out of Qatar with 10 points, putting in a good defence to hold back closing cars towards the end of the race.
Lance Stroll – 8
One of Lance Stroll’s best races in Formula 1, after starting just 12th on the grid.
It came thanks to a positive first stint, which saw him climb up to 10th, plus a well-executed strategy which saw him undercut Carlos Sainz and clear Gasly.
Some misfortunes ahead to Valtteri Bottas and Norris made him gain even more places and Stroll finished 6th in what was his best finish of the year.
Carlos Sainz – 7.5
The Ferrari seemed to lack the usual pace in Qatar, but Sainz could at least be the front car for his team. For the third week in a row, he qualified well, in 7th, well ahead of Charles Leclerc.
His first stint wasn’t exceptional and the car seemed to lose ground, before recovering some pace in the latter parts.
It looked like he could finish in the bottom end of the top 10, but late incidents promoted him to 7th and helped Ferrari put in the bag the contest with McLaren for third place.
Charles Leclerc – 6
A poor weekend for Leclerc, who was surprisingly off the pace. He could only manage 13th in qualifying and was six-tenths behind Sainz.
He got off pretty slowly, but extended his first stint and closed the gap in the final stages, only finishing three seconds off Ocon in fifth.
Lando Norris – 8
Norris is not living his best career moment in terms of luck.
It appeared as if he could finally return to the places he belonged, qualifying sixth, starting fourth and looking set to finish in the same place.
A late puncture ruined all his hopes of a strong result and even though late overtakes on Gasly and Sebastian Vettel meant he still got some points, he will surely not be pleased with ninth.
Sebastian Vettel – 5.5
Vettel leaves Qatar with a point, but his race wasn’t too great. He dropped from 10th to 17th on the opening lap and spent most of the first stint behind slower cars.
By the time he was clear, he showed some good pace, but was way off, finishing in 10th with a well-executed one-stop.
Pierre Gasly – 6
By now it’s not even a surprise that Gasly’s admirable qualifyings are not converted to good points on Sunday.
Alpha Tauri’s commitment to a two-stop strategy proved wrong compared to the rest of the field and all the one stoppers jumped him and dropped him to a desolate 11th.
After starting on the front row, Gasly will surely be very disappointed, as his attempts of late charge were halted by the inability to move past Vettel.
Daniel Ricciardo – 4
By now we have forgotten that Daniel Ricciardo was signed my McLaren to be the first driver and is earning huge sums in comparison with Norris.
With Norris fourth but suffering late misfortunes, McLaren surely should have expected Ricciardo to be up there and pick up the damages. Instead, the Aussie still finished behind Norris, despite his puncture.
Qualifying eight-tenths adrift of his teammate, and spending the early parts of the race stuck at the back, Ricciardo didn’t have a race to remember.
Yuki Tsunoda – 5.5
Yuki Tsunoda is making some progress, coming as close as two-tenths behind Gasly on Saturday, even if that meant the Japanese driver could manage P8, whilst the Frenchman P4, which later became P2.
Likewise, Tsunoda was also penalised by a slower strategy, which saw him abandon the top 10 with an early pit and failing to recover, only managing 13th after two stops.
Kimi Raikkonen – 6.5
Not a bad weekend for Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified ahead of his teammate and was, as usual, faster in the race.
He was as high as 12th at half-distance, but committed to a two-stop and wasn’t helped by the pace of the car. 14th was probably the best he could do.
Antonio Giovinazzi – 5
After entering Qatar with low motivation, as it was announced he wouldn’t be retained by Alfa Romeo for 2022, Antonio Giovinazzi had a poor weekend.
He was just 18th in qualifying and spent the entire race behind Raikkonen, finishing more than 20 seconds behind at the flag.
Mick Schumacher – 6.5
This was one of Haas’s best weekends pacewise, at least on Mick Schumacher’s car.
The German was only 0.3 seconds behind 16th place in qualifying and spent the entire first half within touching distance of the cars in front.
Only a late snap, which took him off the track and saw him return dangerously in the racing line, denies him a higher score, as he risked ending his race as well as Alonso’s, as a lapped driver.
George Russell – 6.5
After a Q1 exit in Brazil, George Russell returned to outqualifying the other back runners, starting from 15th.
Most of his race was spent trailing the cars in front, even if the gap was a bit lower than in recent outings, before a late puncture meant he finished two laps behind.
Nikita Mazepin – 4
Even if he was penalised from a lack of running time in free practice, Nikita Mazepin’s qualifying performance was almost F2-standard, finishing two seconds behind his teammate Mick Schumacher.
In the race he could follow faster cars on the opening laps, before deciding to leave his pit stop late and at one point returning in last even prior to making his stop.
This left him a long way behind on his second stint, as he could finish 1 minute and 18 seconds behind Schumacher.
Nicholas Latifi – 5.5
The race wasn’t going too badly for Nicholas Latifi, even if the qualifying gap on Saturday was quite heavy.
The Canadian was fighting with the Alfa Romeos and Russell before he was also one of four drivers to have a puncture, being forced to retire.
Valtteri Bottas – 4.5
Bottas had his seventh race of the year in which he failed to score points, all this whilst driving with the car that’s currently leading the championship.
He was more than six-tenths behind Hamilton in qualifying and was also penalised for failing to slow under yellow flags.
Being relegated to a sixth-place grid start, he lost five places on the opening lap and had a hard time trying to recover.
His pace on free air may have seen him challenge for the podium, but it was all over when a puncture struck him and dropped him out of the points, before a retirement.
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