Qatar F1 GP 2021: Hamilton closes F1 crown gap and Alonso claims first podium after seven years!

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) has taken a dominant sixth victory this season in the Qatar F1 GP 2021 this Sunday at the Losail International Circuit (Doha). Behind the Briton came Max Verstappen, who managed to minimise the damage after starting in seventh place following a five-place penalty for failing to slow down during a sector of yellow flags in qualifying on Saturday.

But the most extraordinary surprise of the race was the occupant of the bottom step of the podium. The Spaniard Fernando Alonso (Alpine) has made the top three again since he last did in Hungary in 2014.

  

The Spaniard was able to have his first taste of glory after seven years thanks to his exceptional pace combined with a risky single pit stop strategy, which saw him stretch his first stint on soft tires for 24 laps. 

With this result, the seven-time world champion has cut the distance with his title rival by six points. The Briton is now just eight points behind the Dutchman. Both enemies, however, have reasons to be satisfied with how the race has developed. 

On the one hand, Hamilton is very close to snatching first place in the Championship, even more so considering his car has been the most dominating over the last three rounds. Verstappen, for his part, managed to avoid total disaster after a penalty shortly before the start relegated him from second to seventh position. He was even able to claim the extra point for the fastest lap and still leaves the Qatar GP 2021 at the head of the standings. 

Checo Perez has claimed an outstanding fourth place. The Mexican driver performed a fantastic comeback from the eleventh position. Even during the final laps, he came very near the top three. It was however his two pit stops against the single one from Alonso that left him out of the podium. 

The distance between the two candidates to the Constructors’ title has also shrunk considerably with Mercedes having cut its distance with leaders Red Bull to five points. 

Hamilton escapes at the start… to the win  

Hamilton held on to his first starting position as the traffic lights went out, as did his pursuers: Gasly and Alonso. Three curves later, however, the Spaniard devoured the French in his way to the podium. 

A few meters back and Verstappen was climbing to fifth from seventh in the first few moments. The Dutchman was on fire. Before completing the first lap, he had also passed Lando Norris (McLaren) and was running in fourth place. Sainz, on the other hand, had a bad start, falling from fifth to seventh place. 

Oblivious to the battles going on behind him, Hamilton escaped with over two seconds on Alonso and Gasly. The Briton, however, realised his rival Max had jumped to second place after swallowing his prosecutors. In just five laps he was already second, 4.1 seconds behind the English leader. 

Pit-stops´ war!

That distance grew to seven seconds when Verstappen made his first stop to mount hard tires on lap 18. It seemed too early, but his rubbers had had enough. Mercedes replicated the move with Hamilton, and the difference between them grew to 8.4 seconds. 

Things remained largely unchanged at the top when the time came for the second round of pit stops. First, it was Max, on the 42nd lap and one later, it was Lewis’ turn.

Four laps after Bottas´ puncture, in lap 55 Nicholas Latifi -and his fellow George Russell- has same problem triggering a virtual safety car. When the race resumed on the last lap, nothing had changed. Hamilton took the win followed by Verstappen and Alonso. 

Images of Qatar F1 GP 2021: Mercedes AMG F1.
 

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