Motorsport: Kiwi Liam Lawson finishes 17th at Qatar Grand Prix, Verstappen celebrates F1 title with another win

Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrated his first win as a triple Formula One world champion after dominating a Qatar Grand Prix peppered with pitstops and penalties on a Monday (NZ time) of sweltering heat.

The victory from pole position under the Lusail floodlights was a 14th in 17 races, and career 49th, for the 26-year-old Red Bull driver who clinched his third successive title in a Saturday sprint.

After qualifying 18th, Kiwi Liam Lawson came in 17th place – the last of the finishers – in his final drive for AlphaTauri before Daniel Ricciardo returns from injury.

Australian rookie Oscar Piastri, winner of that 19-lap sprint, finished second with McLaren team mate Lando Norris third in what became a three-stopper after Pirelli warned of the risk of blowouts.

"It was a bit close for comfort I think in that last stint. But pace was OK. Another win, unbelievable," said Verstappen, who finished 4.8 seconds clear of Piastri.

The relatively slim gap flattered the Australian, with Verstappen never looking like he was under any pressure and also setting the fastest lap.

Max Verstappen celebrates his win.
Max Verstappen celebrates his win. Photo credit: Getty Images

"That was a proper quality drive," Red Bull boss Christian Horner, whose team have already won the constructors' title, told the champion over the radio.

The McLaren drivers were told to hold position at the end, although Norris was unhappy with that.

While Verstappen looked like he had spent the evening in a sauna, the heat and humidity left others vomiting in their helmets and on the brink of collapse.

Williams' Alex Albon, who led for one lap when others pitted, was taken to the medical centre to be treated for acute heat exposure while team mate Logan Sargeant suffered severe dehydration.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon said he was throwing up for a couple of laps early in the race.

"It must have been like 80 degrees inside the car. I'm glad that next year we come back in December," said the Frenchman.

Aston Martin's Lance Stroll said he was "passing out in the car" at times.

 There was drama even before the cars had lined up on the grid when Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who ended Red Bull's 100 percent win record with victory in Singapore last month, was ruled out by a fuel system problem.

It continued seconds after the start when Mercedes team mates George Russell and Lewis Hamilton

collided at the first corner, with the latter accusing the younger Briton of taking him out.

Hamilton later calmed down and said he did not consider his team mate at fault.

Russell, who had started second and made four pitstops in all, went from last to fourth with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc fifth and Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso sixth despite an off-track excursion and a painfully hot seat.

Ocon was seventh for Alpine with the Alfa Romeo pair of Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou eighth and ninth and Red Bull's Sergio Perez demoted to 10th after a five-second post-race penalty for exceeding track limits multiple times.

Perez had started from the pitlane after crashing in Saturday's sprint and giving his mechanics plenty of work.

Verstappen, now 209 points clear of Perez at the top of the standings, led cleanly from pole position and raced away unchallenged.

"I think what made the race was my first stint. After that I could just manage my pace and make sure that the tyres were always in a good window," Verstappen said.

"The McLarens were quick again today. I had to push for it. It was definitely a tough race out there."

Four drivers collected time penalties for repeated track limits violations -- Perez, Stroll, Alpine's Pierre Gasly and Albon.

Stroll, Gasly and Albon were twice penalised for a total of 10 seconds each.

All drivers were limited to a maximum of 18 laps per set of tyres for safety reasons after Pirelli detected kerb damage in sets used in Friday practice.


Sign up to receive news updates

By entering your email address, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Newshub and its affiliates may use your email address to provide updates/news, ads, and offers. To withdraw your consent or learn more about your rights, see the Privacy Policy.