Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix from pole, with two stints on the P Zero Yellow medium C2 tyre and one stint on the P Zero White hard C1. He started on the medium before switching to the hard and then finishing the race on the medium again: predicted beforehand as the fastest strategy.
He finished ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who was following a similar strategy before making a third stop for P Zero Red soft C3 tyres under a virtual safety car to claim an extra point for fastest lap on the very last lap.
Both drivers finished more than 30 seconds ahead of Alpine's Fernando Alonso, who started on the soft from third on the grid and then finished on the hard to complete the podium with just one stop. As a result, the top three drivers on the podium adopted three different strategies.
There was a mix of drivers starting on the soft and the medium tyre, with a mixture of one, two and three stoppers as well. The race started in ambient temperatures of around 27 degrees centigrade and track temperatures of around 30 degrees, with conditions remaining quite stable for the whole race.
Four drivers (Valtteri Bottas, George Russell, Lando Norris and Nicholas Latifi) experienced puntures on their front-left tyres, which could be the result of very high wear combined with high-speed impacts against kerbs that are very aggressive at Losail.
Mario Isola: "With Losail being a new and relatively unknown track, featuring some high energy corners, the teams headed into the race lacking all the information they would ideally want, with only one representative practice session. However, it became clear during the race that a one-stopper was very marginal in terms of tyre wear, requiring a high degree of management. Some drivers encountered tyre problems towards the finish: this was probably due to a combination of very high wear as a result of long stints, and impacts at high speed against some aggressive kerbs, but we'll obviously find out specifically what happened with a full laboratory analysis back at base in Milan. By contrast, Hamilton and Verstappen were able to push to the limit with the strategy that they had selected, finishing more than half a minute ahead of Alonso in third, who made a one-stopper work for him."
Check out our Sunday gallery from Qatar, here.