The Mercedes Englishman is now 8 points behind the Dutch Red Bull
Lewis Hamilton wins the Qatar GP ahead of Max Verstappen. The British driver of Mercedes – seventh victory of the season, 102nd in his career – in the 2021 World Championship goes to only 8 points from the Dutch driver of Red Bull, leader with 2 races left in the championship.
Hamilton dominates the race starting from pole position and leading the race for all 57 laps. Verstappen, who started from seventh after a penalty, finished in second place ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Alpine.
THE RACE – A textbook start for Hamilton who maintains the first position on the grid and immediately takes the lead of the race, behind him Alonso on Alpine is good at ‘burning’ Gasly’s Alpha Tauri by climbing to second position. Excellent start for Verstappen, who immediately passes from seventh to fourth place. Departure to forget for Bottas, the Finn of Mercedes is 11th.
Great comeback by Verstappen who overcomes Gasly and Alonso in the space of 4 laps and on the fifth lap is immediately second at 3 ” 9 from Hamilton. Farther back the Ferraris with Sainz seventh, Leclerc 12th. On the tenth lap Hamilton leads with 5 “ 3 over Verstappen, third Alonso followed by Gasly and Norris, sixth Red Bull of Perez, seventh Ocon, eighth the ‘red’ of Carlos Sainz, ninth Bottas. –
On lap 18 Verstappen immediately in the pits to mount the white tire, the Dutchman returns in front of Alonso always in second position, now Hamilton’s advantage is 34 seconds. Immediate counter move by the 7 times world champion, same rubber and 10 seconds gap from Verstappen. Hamilton immediately sets the best time, 1’27 ” 1.
Meanwhile, the other Mercedes, that of Bottas, gained positions and moved up to fourth position. In the pits Alonso, white rubber, also for the Spaniard who returns eighth, losing 5 positions. Hamilton-Bottas long distance call and response for the fastest lap which is worth an additional point.
Hamilton leads in the middle of the race, with 6 “ 6 on Verstappen. A twist on lap 34, a puncture for Bottas returning to the pits. The third position is now for Perez, Bottas 14th. With 20 laps to go, Hamilton’s gap on Verstappen rises to 8 ” 4.
On lap 42 I change tires for Verstappen who mounts a yellow tire in an attempt to recover the gap on the Mercedes. Change also for Perez who comes from third to fifth behind Alonso and Norris. Hamilton also changes, returning with a margin of 9 ” 7 over the Dutchman. Perez makes up for positions that after a tire to tire with Ocon earns fifth place and puts Norris and Alonso in his sights. Pit stop for Norris who returns eleventh. Meanwhile, Bottas retires due to problems with his car.
With 5 laps remaining, Hamilton has nearly 10 seconds ahead of Red Bull, further back Alonso who has 8 seconds on Perez. Several punctures near the curbs, from the pits come recommendations to the drivers not to take risks. Latifi stops, the virtual safety car enters the track. In the pits Vertappen with two laps from the end that mounts soft tires to ensure the fastest lap that allows him to maintain an 8-point advantage over the Mercedes driver in the standings. Nothing happens anymore, Hamilton triumphs in front of Verstappen and AlonsoSergio Perez’s Red Bull fourth. Ferrari seventh and eighth with Sainz and Leclerc.