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Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Losail International Circuit, 2021

Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Lance Stroll were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Qatar Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Fernando Alonso

  • Set the tone early by qualifying fifth – then was elevated to third on the grid after penalties for Verstappen and Bottas
  • Made a great launch off the clean side of the track to take second place on lap one, before settling into third place
  • Successfully executed a one stop strategy against Pirelli’s advice; ran 34 laps on a set of hard tyres to the end as others suffered tyre failures from lateral strain
  • First podium finish in seven years wasn’t just a feelgood moment for Alonso and his supporters – it may very well have secured fifth in the constructors championship for Alpine

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Losail International Circuit, 2021 Hamilton’s seventh win of 2021 was his most emphatic
  • Exceptional qualifying performance, nearly half a second up on the field in Q3 as he took pole position
  • Led from start to finish, executing a perfect two stop race and easily having the measure of Verstappen behind him while running in clean air

Lance Stroll

  • Broke a three-race streak of Q1 exits, but still missed Q3 in 12th
  • Gained two positions on the opening lap while Vettel struggled out of the first corner
  • Ran a similar one stop strategy to Alonso including 34 laps on the hard tyres, ran a clean race, and was rewarded with a season-best sixth place finish

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Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Losail International Circuit, 2021 Ricciardo never looked a contender for points

Daniel Ricciardo

  • Missed Q3 for only the second time since the summer break in 14th
  • Fell two places on the opening lap, then spent most of the race in fuel conservation mode
  • On the same one stop tyre strategy as Stroll and Leclerc, finished a lowly 12th – 32.8 seconds behind team mate Norris, who suffered a puncture with eight laps to go

Nikita Mazepin

  • Damage sustained in first practice cost him all of second and third practices, and the track time that came with it
  • Outqualified by Schumacher by a whopping 2.452 seconds, predictably in last
  • Last classified finisher, two laps down and off the same lap as Schumacher in a race where the only intrigue was his medium-to-soft one stop strategy

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And the rest

Valtteri Bottas

  • Rapid on Friday, but slipped well behind Hamilton on Saturday after his team mate moved towards his set-up
  • Results after Q3 had him set to start third, but a three-place grid drop for a yellow flag error had him placed back in sixth
  • Had a terrible launch off the grid, dropping him to 1th, and spent a bit too long trying to pass Lance Stroll for Toto Wolff’s liking
  • Eventually found his way through traffic and was on pace to salvage a podium off a one stop strategy before a tyre failure right at the end of 32 laps
  • Retired from a non-points position due to damage

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Losail International Circuit, 2021 After penalty setback, Verstappen quickly rose to second
  • Lost out on a front row start for not respecting double waved yellow flags at the end of Q3
  • Gained three positions from seventh on the grid on the first lap, then quickly got around Gasly and Alonso to settle into second after just five laps
  • Had two conventional stops, then pitted for a third time to secure the fastest lap bonus and limit the damage of Hamilton’s victory with a second-place finish

Sergio Perez

  • Exited Q2 despite a final run on soft tyres to secure a top ten grid slot
  • Had a solid race car and fresh medium tyres to start the race, gained two places on the opening lap, and overtook his way to fourth place before his first pit stop
  • Finished fourth to help Red Bull close on Mercedes’ lead in the constructors championship, but had a chance at third if not for a late Virtual Safety Car

Lando Norris

Lando Norris, McLaren, Losail International Circuit, 2021 Puncture cost Norris a strong points finish
  • Reached Q3 when his team mate could not, qualified a respectable sixth, and started fourth after grid penalties
  • Dropped a position on the first lap, but found his way back to fourth and was eager to run the same soft-to-hard one stop strategy as Alonso
  • Suffered a tyre failure with less than 10 laps to go, demoting him from fourth to ninth, leaving McLaren with a nearly insurmountable gap to Ferrari in the constructors championship

Esteban Ocon

  • Progressed to Q3 for the first time since Sochi, and qualified ninth
  • Showcased a bit of Alonso’s first lap magic by gaining three places on the first lap
  • A spirited effort to try and keep Perez from taking fourth place, which helped Alonso secure his podium finish
  • Held off Stroll and Sainz to finish fifth, his best result since winning in Hungary, and 10 more points in the ledger of Alpine as they pull away from AlphaTauri

Sebastian Vettel

Vettel squandered a top-10 starting place
  • Reached Q3 for the first time since the rainy Belgian Grand Prix, qualifying tenth
  • Ran wide in turn one after a weak start, dropping him down to 17th at the end of the first lap
  • Despondent on the radio after finishing tenth, feeling that his start cost him a better result given his tyre strategy and the result of his team mate 12 seconds ahead of him

Charles Leclerc

  • Cracked his chassis in Q1, which led to a perplexing early exit in Q2 and a 13th place starting position
  • Fought his way back into the points after a change of chassis, using a one-stop strategy
  • Caught the ‘Ocon train’ near the end of the race, finished eighth to help Ferrari pull ahead of McLaren in the constructors championship

Carlos Sainz Jnr

  • Out-qualified Leclerc for the third consecutive weekend and started sixth with the preferred medium compound tyres
  • Boxed out by Norris on the first lap, dropped to seventh place, then eighth after being overtaken by Perez
  • Ran out of time and opportunities to pass Ocon and Stroll for fifth, but was able to consolidate seventh after Norris’ puncture

Pierre Gasly

Start, Losail International Circuit, 2021 Gasly expected much more after front row start
  • Finishing fourth at the end of qualifying was already a great result, even after causing a yellow flag that disrupted the end of Q3
  • It got even better before the start of the race as grid penalties moved him up to the front row for the first time in his F1 career
  • Pace diminished substantially after the opening laps, and his two-stop strategy including an early first stop plus two stints on medium tyres didn’t help matters
  • Quietly finished 11th, dropping nine positions over the course of the race

Yuki Tsunoda

  • Reached Q3 for the fourth race in a row
  • Ill-timed first pit stop on lap nine, prompted by a visor tear-off stuck in his rear wing, dropped him well down the order
  • Drove a clean but anonymous two stop race, finished 13th, 22.7 seconds behind Gasly

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Losail International Circuit, 2021 Raikkonen started well and comfortably beat Giovinazzi
  • Couldn’t reach Q2 as he did in Mexico City and Sao Paulo, qualified 16th
  • Gained four places on the opening lap, as the Alfa Romeos have continued to gain places off the line
  • Finished 14th, 28 seconds ahead of Giovinazzi, and less than three seconds behind Tsunoda in his first and last race in Qatar

Antonio Giovinazzi

  • Missed Q2 for the first time in three races – both Alfa Romeos missed Q2 for just the fifth time this season
  • Had a tougher time in traffic after gaining four places on the opening lap
  • Finished 15th, outside the points and well adrift of his team mate

Mick Schumacher

  • Adapted to Qatar much quicker than his team mate, and outqualified him by over two seconds
  • Ran a one stop race, going from used softs to used mediums
  • Gained a position after Russell’s late puncture to finish 16th, keeping Haas from a ‘bottom two’ result

George Russell

  • Back on the head-to-head qualifying train after reaching Q2
  • Was keeping the likes of Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi behind or at reach in the final laps of a projected one stop race
  • Suffered a late tyre failure that dropped him to 17th, second to last of all classified finishers and behind Schumacher

Nicholas Latifi

  • Streak of head-to-head qualifying victories ends at one Grand Prix, qualified 18th
  • Was running behind Russell but not too thrilled to have his request to swap positions denied, leading to him being overtaken by Tsunoda and Raikkonen
  • Race ended after 50 laps following yet another left front tyre failure, his stopped car caused the only Virtual Safety Car of the day

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

  • Vote for your 2021 Qatar Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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  • Verstappen is 47th F1 driver to have a shot at clinching the championship
  • 2021 Qatar Grand Prix Star Performers

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