2023 Qatar Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: Hey F1, did you have to bring back our long dormant PTSD over the 2005 USGP at Indy?!
EVENT: It's a good thing this race moves to December 1 next year. Because there is no way it can ever be run at this time of year again.
TRACK: They did a ton of work since 2021 when it popped on the calendar as a last minute fill in. As for the layout, it does lend itself to some good racing action.
QUALIFYING: Verstappen doesn't even do a final hot lap and still takes pole, Norris can't stay within track limits handing the other front row spot to Russell, Piastri also gets a track infringement finding out during the interview handing his spot to Hamilton, the Alpines are strong, Perez fans continue to scratch their heads, and Stroll resorts to shoving team members and punching walls.
SPRINT SHOOTOUT: Track limit struggles except for Piastri who grabs his first "pole" while McLaren locks up the front row, Verstappen has to settle for third, Sainz outdoes Leclerc again, Perez is another disappointment, and Stroll is once again a Q1 failure.
SPRINT: Another thrilling Sprint race. Ever since they stopped using the Sprint results to set Sunday's grid, these Saturday races have become an entertaining free for all.
SPRINT START: Piastri gets a great start while his teammate gets a horrible start, Russell jumps all the way to second, the Ferraris keep Verstappen behind them, and Lawson makes his first major mistake in F1 beaching his chances.
RACE: It was like watching an Indy car race strategy with pit stop windows.
START: Verstappen gets off cleanly, Mercedes duo also get a strong start ... omigosh ... the Silver Arrow cars touch, Hamilton is out, Russell drops to the back, all while Piastri takes advantage jumping four spots to second.
VERSTAPPEN: Max always seems to clinch a title in odd circumstances. Of coures, there was the controversy of 2021 where he had to wait till Mercedes officially dropped the idea of protesting the results. Last year, nobody knew he actually did get enough points in the shortened Japanese GP thanks to the confusing wording in the rules. And this year, he wins it in a Sprint race with one of the only two races he hasn't won so far this year.
PEREZ: Where is the crossover point to when Sergio "is in a slump" versus "has totally lost it"? When Lando becomes available...?
RED BULL: With the short stints necessitating flat out driving throughout, the gap wasn't as large as one might expect. Is this because the biggest strength of Red Bull is how well they take care of their tires (i.e., normal race pace) versus all out speed (i.e. their at times qualifying struggles)?
PIASTRI: Driver of the weekend.
NORRIS: What Lando must be thinking, seeing his rookie teammate win any kind of race before him.
MCLAREN: 1.8 second pit stop. A new record.
RUSSELL: Had nowhere to go, but came back with a strong drive.
HAMILTON: This is the second time recently where Lewis has moved over (albeit, in different circumstances) too soon on another car. It's even worse this time because it was his teammate.
LECLERC: Salvaged Ferrari's race.
SAINZ: All dressed up and nowhere to go.
ALONSO: How in the world Fernando did not get a severe penalty for such a dangerous move when he rejoined the track is beyond us.
STROLL: Talk about the crossover point of totally losing it...
OCON: Vomits in his helmet for two laps early in the race and not only still manages to finish but gets four points as well.
ALFA ROMEO: An excellent points scoring weekend for them moving them past Haas.
LAWSON: Got his chance. Showed himself very well. Now, has to go back to waiting for another opportunity.
SARGEANT: The worst example of the brutal effects of the heat.
FIA: Yes, we can give them accolades for dealing with the tire situation a billion times better than back in 2005. But, that's all taken away by their idiocy of ignoring Pirelli's warnings -- back in January! -- this will happen.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Heat.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 18 -- The maximum laps allowed on a set of tires.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: McLaren got their 501st podium, only the second team to reach 500. Ferrari leads with 803. Behind McLaren is Williams (313), Mercedes (286), and Red Bull (258). Their first was not by Bruce McLaren himself, but by his teammate, Denny Hulme, in their third season. It came at the Spanish GP at Jarama with a second. Bruce did get the team's first win two races later at Spa.
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: From @JennieGow:
#F1 drivers are ridiculously fit - seeing these guys at breaking point is upsetting. Should they have been put in this situation?
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Max Verstappen when he saw Oscar Piastri lying down on the floor in the cooldown room, "Does anyone have a wheelchair?" Then, Verstappen promptly sat down on the floor leaning against the wall.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: After the Sprint Shootout when Oscar Piastri lined his car up in front of the number one board, "I like the number one board. I can get used to that." And he did later that day. And most likely will many times in the future.
SCHEDULE: America. Austin. Music. BBQ. Another sprint format weekend.
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