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F1 | Qatar GP | Hamilton wins dramatic Qatar GP, as tyre failures hit several drivers on the final few laps

Lewis Hamilton has won a grand prix for the 102nd time in his career, ahead of championship rival Max Verstappen. Completing the podium was Alpine driver Fernando Alonso, who enjoyed an excellent race in Losail.

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F1 | Qatar GP | Hamilton wins dramatic Qatar GP, as tyre failures hit several drivers on the final few laps
Fuente imagen: Hasan Bratic - MotorLAT

The drama began even before lights out, as penalties for yellow flags infringements in qualifying hit championship leader Max Verstappen and Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.

On the first lap, Lewis Hamilton maintained his lead ahead of a charging Fernando Alonso in P2 and Gasly in P3. Max Verstappen had a brilliant start and jumped up to 4th place, just behind the AlphaTauri.

Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas had shocking starts, Bottas falling to P11 from P6 and Vettel to P17 from P10.

On lap 4, Verstappen passed Gasly on the main straight, after the Frenchman ran wide at the final corner, and was quickly on the back of Alonso’s Alpine, and passed him on the very next lap, setting his sights on championship rival Lewia Hamilton, 4s up the road at the time.

His teammate Sergio Perez made some steady progress on the first few laps, jumping to eighth place by lap 5. He then fought hard with the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, until he eventually got 7th place by lap 8.

Championship leader Verstappen showed concerns about the integrity of his front wing early on in the race, reporting a “big moment" in turn 1 in lap 8, which his engineer related to potential damage on his wing.

Perez continued his charge and overtook Ocon by lap 9. At the same time, Bottas got past Yuki Tsunoda in what was briefly a three-wide moment into turn 1, with Lance Stroll also part of the overtaking manoeuvre. Bottas proceeded to overtake Stroll on the next lap, in a much calmer move, moving him to P9.



At the front, Hamilton stretched his lead over championship rival Verstappen to 6 seconds by lap 11, in an impressive turn of pace from the Mercedes man.

After his first ever front-row start, Pierre Gasly started to fall back, being demoted to 5th place by McLaren's Lando Norris, and a lap later to 6th by the charging Perez.

By lap 15, Bottas got past the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and continued his recovery drive.

On lap 17, second on the road, Max Verstappen made his first pit stop, and Mercedes and Hamilton Shortly answered on lap 18, keeping things as they we’re at 1/3 race distance.

On lap 23, Perez overtook the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel, who offered a robust defence of his 11th place before giving up the place to the Mexican. At the same time, Bottas made the move on Lando Norris to take what was P3 at the time after Perez' pit stop.

On lap 33, Valtteri Bottas had a dramatic puncture, and threw gravel and stones all over the race track in the process, ruining his race completely, afterhe had done 34 laps on his starting set of médium, C2 tyres.

At the front, Hamilton managed his advantage to Verstappen, keeping na 8.3s lead by lap 37. This encouraged Verstappen and Red Bull to stop for a second time, putting the Dutchman on a new set of medium tyres, with Hamilton responding shortly after.

By lap 45, Fernando Alonso was thinking it through, as he asked his Alpine team to make sure teammate Ocon would hold Perez behind “like a lion" in order to maintain the podium place of the Spaniard, much like he did to maintain Ocon's lead at the Hungarian GP.

But Ocon couldn’t do much when the Mexican swoop around the outside of him, at turn 1 on lap 47, even if he defended robustly.

Valtteri Bottas had a miserable race, and had to retire in lap 50, after his puncture demoted him way down the order. His replacement at Mercedes for 2022, George Russell had some drama on the same lap, as he also suffered a puncture on his left front tyre, after running over a kerb.

In a dramatic sequence of events, Nicholas Latifi also suffered from a left front tyre puncture a lap later, and had to retire from the race. As he did it in an unsafe place, the Virtual Safety Car had to be deployed on lap 55.

The VSC allowed Max Verstappen to pit for a third time for a new set for C3, soft compound tyres, and also allowed a bit of breathing air for Fernando Alonso and Alpine, who were very concerned about the state of their tyres, and helped them maintain the podium place.

At the chequered flag, Hamilton won and cut the gap to Max Verstappen to just 8 points going into the final two races.

A brilliant podium for Fernando Alonso and Alpine behind, after they survived the threat from a very fast Sergio Perez, who finished P4.

The rest of the top 10 consisted of: Ocon, Stroll, Sainz, Leclerc, Norris, Vettel.

Star of qualifying, Pierre Gasly struggled on his 2-stop strategy and couldn’t get past the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel, ending the day in a disappointing 11th place.

Going into the final two races of this exciting 2021 F1 championship, Mercedes now leads the constructors’ championship by 5 points over Red Bull, and Verstappen leads the way by 8 points from Lewis Hamilton, heading to the Saudi Arabian GP, in a fortnight’s time.

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