Mercedes Drivers Meet in First Corner of Formula 1’s Hot Qatar Race
It’s Tuesday, October 10, 2023 and this is Racing Recap, your summary of last weekend’s motorsports action. At the Qatar Grand Prix, Max Verstappen’s championship coronation was overshadowed by tire-damaging curbs, dangerously high heat, and a first-corner collision between teammates. NASCAR’s trip to the Charlotte Roval had A.J. Allmendinger outrun the playoff drivers for an emotional victory.
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The complaints about Max Verstappen winning the drivers’ championship after a Saturday sprint race immediately became irrelevant when bigger issues were thrust into the spotlight. Concerns were raised after Friday’s practice and qualifying sessions because newly installed pyramid-shaped curbs were severely damaging F1’s Pirelli tires. The lateral loads over the curbs after high-speed corners were wearing the tread and sidewall apart like wet cardboard.
For Saturday, the FIA painted a new curb on the racing surface to keep cars off the harmful fixture. Many drivers were caught out by the narrower track, including Verstappen. McLaren locked out the front row in the sprint race, with Oscar Piastri being fastest in the shootout. Verstappen wasn’t able to catch the Australian in the sprint but was still able to finish second and clinch the championship.
Race officials would impose a tire life limit of 18 laps for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Red Bull’s world champion would start on pole immediately followed by Mercedes’ George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. The limit would be less of a concern for the German factory team after Hamilton pinched Russell into the first corner. The contact sent Hamilton into the gravel trap with three tires, ending the seven-time champion’s day. Piastri found himself in second, driving past the crash.
The McLaren drivers weren’t a threat to the unhindered Red Bull as Verstappen grand slammed the Qatar Grand Prix. However, the Dutch driver looked physically spent after the race. The extreme heat and humidity was an issue for every driver in the field. Williams’ Logan Sargeant retired from the race after experiencing a heatstroke. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon puked in his helmet during the race and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll passed out several times behind the wheel.
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Oscar Piastri (McLaren) – +4.833 seconds
- Lando Norris (McLaren) – +5.969 seconds
- George Russell (Mercedes) – +34.119 seconds
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – +38.976 seconds
Allmendinger Plays Playoff Spoiler At The Roval
The Bank of America Roval 400 has quickly become one of the highlights of the NASCAR Cup Series season. The wild road course race at Charlotte Motor Speedway also serves as the elimination event of the playoffs’ second round. Still, none of the contending drivers could capitalize on the last opportunity to advance to the Round of 8.
Kaulig Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger took the victory at the Roval, his first Cup Series win since the Indianapolis road course race two years ago. He led the final 33 laps of the race and held off a late charge by William Byron for the win. The 41-year-old veteran was tearing up after climbing out of the car. Allmendinger explained on the NBC broadcast, “I hate crying right now, but it’s a freaking Cup race, man. You don’t know when it’s ever going to happen again.”
- A.J. Allmendinger (Kaulig)
- William Byron (Hendrick) – +0.666 seconds
- Kyle Busch (Childress) – +3.094 seconds
- Ty Gibbs (Gibbs) – +3.418 seconds
- Joey Logano (Penske) – +4.070 seconds