Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix for Mercedes on Sunday to cut Max Verstappen’s overall Formula One lead to eight points with two races remaining.
Red Bull’s Verstappen was second, after starting seventh from a five-place grid drop for failing to respect warning flags in Saturday’s qualifying, but took a bonus point for the fastest lap.
Double world champion Fernando Alonso was third for Renault-owned Alpine, the 40-year-old Spaniard’s first podium finish since 2014.
“It was pretty straightforward, it was pretty lonely at the front,” said Hamilton, who led from pole position and was never challenged over the 57 laps of the floodlit night race.
“Of course, I enjoy those races where you’re battling through but we needed those points today, so I think a real solid job from the team. Bring on the next two.”
The win was Hamilton’s seventh from 20 races this season, and the record-extending 102nd of his career also continued his record of being first to win at new circuits on the calendar.
Verstappen, who has nine wins in 2021, carried out another solid piece of damage limitation as Red Bull cut Mercedes’s lead in the constructors’ standings from 11 to five points.
“Of course, our starting position was a bit compromised but luckily we had a really good start,” said Verstappen, who was fourth by the end of the opening lap and soon slotted into second.
“I know it’s going to be difficult to the end but that keeps it exciting. It’s going to be a tight battle until the end.”
The Dutch 24-year-old can still win the championship with a race to spare at the next round in Saudi Arabia if Hamilton fails to score.
Mexican Sergio Perez was fourth for Red Bull, with Frenchman Esteban Ocon fifth for Alpine in a race with a sudden spate of punctures late on among those trying to make a single stop work.
Lance Stroll took sixth for Aston Martin, ahead of the Ferrari pairing of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
Lando Norris finished ninth for McLaren and Sebastian Vettel 10th for Aston Martin.
• Formula One stewards summoned Red Bull team boss Christian Horner after Sunday’s race for an alleged breach of the governing FIA’s international sporting code.
The summons cited articles 12.2.1 (f) and 12.2.1 (k) without providing further details.
The first article covers “any words, deeds or writings that have caused moral injury or loss to the FIA, its bodies, its members or its executive officers, and more generally on the interest of motorsport and on the values defended by the FIA”.
The second relates to any misconduct towards licence holders, officials, officers or member of the staff of the FIA, the organiser or promoter, competitors or doping control officials.
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