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Lewis Hamilton wins Qatar GP, Max Verstappen retains title lead, and Fernando Alonso scores first podium since 2014

Race winner Lewis Hamilton and second-placed Max Verstappen celebrate on the podium after the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix.
Race winner Lewis Hamilton and second-placed Max Verstappen celebrate on the podium after the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix.
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Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton claimed his 102nd victory in F1 by winning the Qatar Grand Prix at the Losail International circuit. Max Verstappen surged up the grid to claim second place in a damage-limitation exercise after his grid penalty. Alpine F1 driver Fernando Alonso claimed third place, marking the 98th podium of his career after 105 races, with his last top-three result coming at the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix.

It was a race that started off by favoring Mercedes, with grid penalties for Lewis Hamilton’s title rival Max Verstappen. While it was a lights-to-flag victory for the Briton, his team-mate and wingman Valterri Bottas was forced to retire after a puncture.

Lewis Hamilton leads the field at the start of the 2021 Qatar Grandd Prix at the Losail International circuit.
Lewis Hamilton leads the field at the start of the 2021 Qatar Grandd Prix at the Losail International circuit.

Lewis Hamilton's Dutch rival, on the other hand, surged from seventh to second in a race where his car was inferior to the Silver Arrows. Verstappen managed to secure an extra point for the fastest lap of the race after a pitstop under the Virtual Safety Car.

Alpine F1 driver Alonso put in a brilliant drive, winning him the fan vote for "Driver of the Day." The Spaniard, who started third, jumped to second behind Lewis Hamilton at the start of the race, dropped to P7 after his pitstop, then surged back to third place.

P3 and a first F1 podium finish for seven years 👌No wonder you voted @alo_oficial as Driver of the Day in Qatar! 🤩#QatarGP 🇶🇦 #F1 https://t.co/mjClNiVyVU

Red Bull F1 driver Sergio Perez finished fourth after starting 11th on the grid, which has helped reduce the gap between his team and Mercedes to five points in the constructors' standings. The Mexican was followed over the line by Alpine F1's Esteban Ocon in fifth, securing one of the best results for the French outfit since Hungary earlier this season.

Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll finished sixth, followed by Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, who trailed behind in seventh and eighth respectively.

McLaren's Lando Norris, who started fourth on the grid, finished ninth after a puncture on Lap 48 cost him time. Stroll’s teammate Sebastian Vettel finished 10th to round out the top 10 point-scorers.

FINAL CLASSIFICATION: QATAR 🏁Lewis wins again and closes the gap - and Fernando's back on the podium 👀What an afternoon in Qatar!#QatarGP 🇶🇦 #F1 https://t.co/yyQV1BYPmJ

Although the Losail International Circuit allowed room for overtaking, track position played key. As such, Lewis Hamilton’s clean start helped him pull off a comfortable lead. The Briton, however, was countered by perfect pitstop strategy from Red Bull F1 to keep Verstappen from losing too many points to Lewis Hamilton.

The Qatar Grand Prix had a VSC (Virtual Safety Car) period that lasted from Lap 53 - 56 as a result of Nicholas Latifi’s car being stuck on track. The Canadian's Williams suffered a puncture after hitting a kerb. It was one of four punctures in the race, as most tried to stretch the tire compounds for too many laps while some of the kerbs cut the tires.


Lewis Hamilton reduces Max Verstappen's title lead to eight points

Race winner Lewis Hamilton celebrates in parc ferme during the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix at Losail International CircuitQatar. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images
Race winner Lewis Hamilton celebrates in parc ferme during the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix at Losail International CircuitQatar. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton now heads to the next race with only eight points between him and his title rival. However, with two more races left on the calendar, it remains to be seen whether Red Bull F1 extends their lead or does the lead switch hands for the sixth time this season.

Verstappen still leads the title with a total of 351.5 points while Lewis Hamilton trails behind with 343.5 points.


Edited by Sandeep Banerjee

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