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Oscar Piastri during the sprint shootout

Qatar Grand Prix: F1 sprint shootout results

While chaos reigned around him in yesterday's qualifying session, Max Verstappen continued to display his utter dominance that we've seen all season. Will the Dutch driver make it two P1 starts in a row, on the day he can become a three-time Formula One world champion?

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Oscar Piastri sets the pace in the sprint shootout and starts P1 for the Qatar Grand Prix sprint race

The Ferrari's lead the way as the light goes green for the sprint shootout
The Ferrari’s lead the way as the light goes green for the sprint shootout. (Image Credit: @F1 on X)

As we enter the second day of the Qatar Grand Prix weekend, the drama on and off the track has not disappointed. While Max Verstappen took his 10th pole position of the 2023 season, there was plenty of drama behind him. First, Lando Norris qualified P2 before being demoted to P10 after failing to set a lap time without violating track limits. This saw George Russell spring up to second, with Oscar Piastri inheriting P3. Then the Australian had his lap time deleted and dropped down to P6. Finally, Lewis Hamilton, who originally qualified P5, will start the Qatar Grand Prix from P3. And that’s not to mention Lance Stroll’s reaction following his failure to get out of Q1.

The FIA makes safety amendments

The chaos has continued today. The sprint shootout has been delayed by 20 minutes to make room for a 10-minute ‘practice familiarisation session’. This has been brought on following Friday’s tyre analysis, with the FIA and Pirelli revealing the analysis found “a separation in the sidewall between the topping compound and the carcass cords on many of tyres that were checked.” This has led to the belief that:

“A significant number of additional laps on these tyres could result in circumferential damage of the tyres with subsequent air loss, and tyres analysed with lower lap numbers showed a much-reduced extent of the issue.”

The FIA added that the “issue has likely been caused by the high-frequency interference between the tyre sidewall and the 50mm ‘pyramid’ kerbs used extensively at this circuit, aggravated by the propensity to ride those kerbs.”

The 10-minute practice familiarisation session
The light goes green for the 10 minute track practice familiarisation session
The light goes green for the 10 minute practice familiarisation session. (Image Credit: @F1 on X)

With 10 minutes on the clock, it was predicted that the drivers will get 2 or 3 push laps to learn the new narrow section between turns 12 and 13. As the clock counted down, all the drivers started queuing in the pit lane, with no-one wanting to miss out on any track time.

Although the drivers had been warned about the kerbs, and the resulting track limit penalties, certain individuals were still pushing the limits. Verstappen went very wide on one of his runs, while Logan Sargeant took out a marker board.

Verstappen continued to set the pace in the spontaneous practice session, followed by Charles Leclerc and Zhou Guanyu. The session came to a close with another radio altercation between Verstappen and his race engineer.


The Ferrari drivers were the first to leave the pitlane to start their SQ1 session, with many drivers opting to stay in their garages. Norris set the early pace with a 1:26.464, followed by Sergio Perez and Piastri. But Russell jumped the three of them with 1:26.359. However, Verstappen was quicker than the four of them, becoming the first driver (today) in the 1:25’s with a 1:25.510.

Lap times were being deleted up and down the timing sheet with Sargeant and Pierre Gasly the latest victims. With less than five minutes to go, the McLaren drivers jumped up to P2 (Norris) and P3 (Piastri). Valtteri Bottas continued his impressive performance in Qatar, posting a 1:26.449 which was good enough for P5. Hamilton and Leclerc also joined Sargeant and Gasly with their lap times being deleted.

With less than 2 minutes to go, Stroll, Kevin Magnussen, Liam Lawson, Zhou, and Sargeant were all at risk. And Leclerc was down in P15 as the driver at risk of dropping out. Verstappen and Norris were in the pit lane, believing that they were safe with everyone else out on track.

Zhou approved out of the bottom five with Leclerc dropping out. Russell improved to P1, while Hamilton got into the top 10. Sargeant also improved out of the bottom five and in front of his teammate, while Leclerc set a time good enough for P10.

Sargeant’s lap time got deleted as he was relegated to P20, and Stroll went off the track on his last attempt. However, the first part of the sprint shootout had also resulted in a stewards enquiry to be investigated after the session.

Out in SQ1:
  • Stroll.
  • Albon.
  • Tsunoda.
  • Magnussen.
  • Sargeant.

The Mercedes drivers opted to go out on track first in SQ2, with Russell leading Hamilton. But the seven-time world champion was quicker than his teammate, setting a 1:26.069. But the lap time was deleted for track limit violations. Hamilton wasn’t the only one, with Leclerc also getting his early effort deleted as well.

After the first set of times were set, Norris led Verstappen, Piastri, Perez, and Hulkenberg. Meanwhile, Russell commented over team radio that the wind was picking up. Gasly, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Zhou, and Bottas, all did not have a time on the board. On his first SQ2 run, Zhou had yet another lap time deleted, dropping the Chinese driver back into the bottom five.

With less than two minutes to go, Gasly, Lawson, Carlos Sainz, Bottas, and Zhou were all at risk. The Spanish Ferrari driver had his lap time deleted. Yet again, as the clock was running down only Norris and Verstappen remained in the pit lane.

Both Alfa Romeo’s early final laps were not good enough to get out of the bottom five. Hamilton’s final lap time got deleted, making the Brit the driver at risk. And it was Sainz’s final effort which was good enough to knock Hamilton out. The Mercedes driver became the first big name to not make it into SQ3. Hulkenberg also knocked Gasly out of SQ3 on his last lap.

Out in SQ2:
  • Gasly.
  • Hamilton.
  • Bottas.
  • Lawson.
  • Zhou.

Verstappen led out Sainz and Leclerc, as the three drivers took to the track for SQ3. The rest of the top 10 opted to stay in the pitlane a little longer, but Perez soon joined the trio.

After the first four drivers set their lap times, Verstappen set a 1:24.543, which was deleted. Leclerc also got his lap time deleted, with Perez in P1 leading Sainz. The two McLaren drivers were next to set their lap times. Norris piped his teammate by 0.039, having set a 1:24.536. Leclerc’s second flying lap also got deleted.

After the first run of laps, it was Norris, Piastri, Perez, Sainz, and Verstappen with times of the board. On Russell’s first attempt he jumped up to P3, as Perez’s latest attempt was deleted.

Verstappen’s final lap time was only good enough for P3, as Piastri jumped up to P1. Norris looked like he was on for an even faster lap, but went off the track on the final corner and could not improve. As his final lap time got deleted, Norris was also noted by the stewards for not following the race director’s instructions. The Brit joins a host of other drivers already under investigation for the same infringement during SQ1.

Meanwhile, Russell’s lap was good enough for P4, followed by Alonso, Sainz, Leclerc, Hulkenberg, Perez, and Ocon. With the Alpine driver failing to enter a time for the final sprint shootout session.

Alonso’s final lap time also got deleted. The Aston Martin driver drops down to P9, meaning that Sainz, Leclerc, Hulkenberg, and Perez are all promoted up one position.

Feature Image Credit: @SvetHitrosti on X

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