Written by Atharie Al Salem
Formula 1 Ooreedoo Qatar Grand Prix has launched for the first time ever in Qatar, at the popular Moto GP race calendar circuit, Lusail International Circuit. Being the first on the desert trilogy series, Qatar brings a high-speed track with high kerbs that are rough on F1 tyres, which was evidently shown at the race day that was filled with much tyre failures on track.
Starting from pole position was Lewis Hamilton who set the fastest lap on the day of qualifying after the session came to an abrupt change in circumstance when Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly had a tyre puncture which caused double yellow flags to be waved. As Hamilton set the highest gap between qualifying laps at 4 tenths of a second difference, Max Verstappen and Valterri Bottas had faced marginal speeds while speeding under the flag, which provoked the stewards to hand them 5 and 3 place grid penalties respectively.
The race start ended up with Pierre Gasly sitting comfortably in P2 but not for long as a charging Fernando Alonso claimed his spot in the podium places until the end of the race, displaying his well-known technique for excellent race starts and was voted by fans as their “Driver of the Day”. Hamilton led all laps of the race, being the 175th race of his F1 career. The grid shifted drastically through the mid-field yet concluded in a HAM VER ALO podium, continuing the battle for the championship title of the season which will be decided in Jeddah or Abu Dhabi.
The drastic incidents in the race featured two DNFs, one for Mercedes driver Valterri Bottas and another for Williams Racing’s Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi. Both were due to tyre punctures, having caused yellow flags and sparks all through the circuit. Lando Norris #4 and George Russell #63 also found tyre punctures,
but were able to finish the race although not holding ideal results for their team standings.
After this race, Mercedes leads the championship for the constructors over Red Bull by only 5 points. Qatar’s first ever race posed some high action and revealed that it is necessary to do two pit stops, and stretching the tyres is not possible as with other desert circuits such as Bahrain or Abu Dhabi. The narrow run-off area also calls for more yellow flags to be waved, but the track itself celebrates a great show for viewers on track and abroad. The attendance of this grand prix is notably the highest ever attendance of any sporting event in Qatar, signifying a great start to their 10-year deal with F1. The racing series will return at Lusail starting 2023, after the Qatar World Cup in 2022 took its place for the following year.