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Piastri wins the Sprint and Max the title


Ahead of today's Sprint the air temperature is 32 degrees C, while the track temperature is 36 degrees.

As you are no doubt aware, in order to secure his third (successive) title, Max Verstappen only needs to score three points this evening, and starting third one the grid one could say that he's already halfway there.

Starting ahead of the Dutchman are the two McLarens, both of whom must really fancy their chances.

The result and championship aside, one thing that will be under scrutiny this evening is the tyres following this morning's announcement from the FIA.

The Sprint is 19 laps and thus far no driver has gone that distance using any of the compounds.

All weekend we have seen surprises courtesy of the wind and track limits, which at times have appeared to work in tandem, especially where the Ferrari's are involved.

A good result from Perez today could delay the inevitable, but with the Mexican starting from eighth it is likely that Max will put us all out of our misery.

Russell starts from fourth, ahead of the Ferraris, while Alonso and Hamilton should provide some entertainment as they seek whatever points the big guns leave on the table.

The pitlane opens and the drivers head out.

Russell admits that there remains doubt over the tyres, especially the fronts.

Asked what tyre he has opted for, Christian Horner replies: "Pirelli!"

Piastri, Norris, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez, Hamilton, Bottas, Lawson, Zhou, Albon, Tsunoda and Magnussen all start on mediums, the rest are on softs.

Verstappen, Sainz, Hulkenberg, Perez, Stroll and Sargeant are on fresh rubber.

Under the circumstance, a big gamble for those on softs, particularly used softs.

They head off on the formation lap, Norris, in particular, appears to struggle getting away.

The grid forms.

They're away! Great starts from Piastri, Russell, Verstappen and the Ferraris.

Into Turn 1 Piastri leads while Sainz is on the inside of Russell and Leclerc on the inside of Norris and Verstappen. While Russell stays ahead of the Spaniard, Leclerc leaves Verstappen and Norris for dust.

Verstappen edges ahead of the second McLaren which is now under threat from Alonso and Ocon.

while Norris has a dreadful start and drops to sixth.

Lawson off in a cloud of dust at Turn 3, the replay suggesting an unforced error from the Kiwi.

The Safety Car is deployed as Lawson's car is rescued from the gravel trap.

Piastri leads from Russell, Sainz, Leclerc, Verstappen, Norris, Alonso, Ocon, Hulkenberg and Perez. Hamilton has dropped to twelfth.

The Safety Car is withdrawn at the end of Lap 3, and Piastri lets rip.

Alonso makes a move on Norris in Turn 1 but the Briton holds him off. As they continue to battle, Russell passes Piastri after the Australian makes a mistake at Turn 6.

Logan is off and in the gravel and once again the Safety Car is deployed.

Somehow, Alonso has lost out to Norris and been passed by Ocon.

"The soft runners have the advantage at the moment," Perez is told, "but it will come to us."

"Guys, solve the misfire or I'm going to lose position," warns Sainz.

Piastri is also told that the race will come to the medium runners as it develops. Indeed, the McLaren driver is told that the soft tyres are already showing signs of graining.

The Safety Car is withdrawn at the end of Lap 7.

Ahead of the restart Russell backs up the pack before heading off into the distance.

Piastri and Sainz battle into Turn 1, the Australian having broken the tow.

Further back Stroll is all over Hamilton, while Alonso has passed Ocon to retake the position he lost earlier.

After 8 laps, Russell has a 1.4s lead and fastest lap (28.207).

Alonso is given his second track limits warning for Turn 15.

Verstappen is closing on Leclerc, the Dutchman whizzing past the Ferrari on the run to Turn 1 to claim fourth. Further back, Perez passes Gasly for tenth.

As Verstappen closes in, Sainz is clearly struggling on his softs.

As Piastri is advised that the soft runners are struggling, Norris closes in on Leclerc.

Hamilton passes Gasly for eleventh.

Suddenly, Piastri is all over the rear of Russell's Mercedes. He nails the Briton going around the outside of the Mercedes in Turn 1 at the start of Lap 11, as teammate Norris passes Leclerc.

Perez is off at Turn 2 along with Ocon, which means that - barring a major disaster - means that Verstappen is world champion.

The Safety Car is deployed for a third time.

Replay shows that Ocon and Perez clashed as they battled for position with Hulkenberg, a classic case of three into two won't go.

Indeed, the Mexican tried an opportunistic attempt to pass Ocon and Hulkenberg as they battled, seeking to nip though on the inside of them. However, as Ocon moved across the track, Hulkenberg was caught in the middle of the battling trio and the end result was inevitable.

Stroll, Zhou and Hulkenberg all pit, while Russell is firmly told that he cannot follow their example. Hulkenberg has actually retired.

Verstappen is warned to manage his tyres as there is surface damage. "Forget about Piastri," he is told, "we need to get to the end."

The Safety Car is withdrawn at the end of Lap 15.

Piastri tries to lose Russell but the Briton sticks with him. Meanwhile, Leclerc passes Norris and almost nails Sainz.

Hamilton is all over Gasly having lost out to the Frenchman at the restart.

Verstappen passes Russell on the run to Turn 1 at the start of Lap 16, the Dutchman, as ever, looking to win in the best possible style despite the warning about his tyres.

Norris is closing on the Ferrari having finally turn his mediums on.

As Verstappen posts a new fastest lap (25.945), Norris nails Leclerc and then Sainz.

As Hamilton passes Gasly for the final point, Alonso is closing on the Ferraris.

"I think Carlos is struggling," warns Leclerc.

Hamilton passes Alonso and closes on Leclerc. The Briton is all over the Ferrari as they battle for 6th.

As Piastri begins his final lap, Norris passes Russell for third and Albon passes Alonso for eighth.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Lusail here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 08/10/2023 4:16

"Sorry to double dip but some math has pointed to an interesting [if somewhat dubious ] result. The sprint was one third full GP distance. Piastri's margin over Norris was 8.5 secs and that extrapolates to 25.5secs over a full race disrance at Quatar. Now that is quite something else...."

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2. Posted by kenji, 08/10/2023 3:59

"Oscar makes it all appear to be somewhat effortless!!! He is a cool racer and he has given a glimpse of what potential he has for an illuminating and successful career on the premise that his car maintains it's race performance. With Mark Webber in his corner he is getting to grips with a rookie season full of new tracks and making up for lost time away from racing, whilst parked at Renault for one year. It was an exciting race in many respects with no opportunities to play any 'long' games. I do like sprint races and i certainly hope that they remain as permanent fixtures......but six events is enough. Looking forward to the 'biggie' tonight...."

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3. Posted by Ricardo_sanchez, 07/10/2023 22:06

"Great result for the sport. Piastri seems to have it all: speed, composure, eloquence and humility. Surely this is the first of many?

Also, with the benefit of hindsight, how well-judged was that decision to dump Renault/Alpine in favour of the McLaren seat? Becoming a consistent F1 winner is as much about making the right calls on contracts/team moves as it is absolute pace, so this bodes well for his future. "

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