Lewis Hamilton claimed victory number one-hundred-two, after winning the first-ever Qatar Grand Prix in dominant fashion to claw back yet more points to championship leader Max Verstappen. Team-mate Valtteri Bottas retired from the race.
It was a fairly easy evening for Hamilton, the Seven-time world champion made a great start off the line from pole and quite simply never looked back. His title-rival Verstappen could only see Hamilton in the distance, after the Dutchman was awarded a five-place grid penalty before the race.
Hamilton was comfortable out in front and never looked troubled on his way to claiming back-to-back victories, reducing the gap to Verstappen to just eight points.
Hamilton knows he still has his work cut out but is thriving in the championship battle.
“It’s been a hell of a year so to be at this point of the season and have back-to-back wins is a great feeling. It was a pretty straight forward race for me, a little bit lonely but of course, we needed those points, so a really solid job by the team. A big thank you to everyone trackside and back at the factories for all their hard work. I’m really grateful for these points and it’s amazing to be able to close the gap so much in the last two weeks.
“We’ve still got our work cut out, but we’re loving such a close battle and the challenge that it brings. It was a real shame for Valtteri today, having to retire, but the pace was good this weekend and that puts us in good stead for the next two races. We’ll be bringing our triple a-game for those.”
“That was a very disappointing day” – Valtteri Bottas
For Valtteri Bottas it was not the race he had planned, the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver retired the car in the closing stages of the race, after a earlier puncture shattered any hopes of a points finish.
Bottas’s race was made more difficult before it had even begun, the Finnish driver was awarded a three-place grid penalty for ignoring a single-waved yellow flag during qualifying. This meant Bottas had to start from sixth and on the dirty side of the grid. Bottas made a horrible start and was outside the top ten by the time they exited the final corner.
Bottas did eventually climb his way back through the field before a sudden puncture ruined his charge. This left Bottas outside the points and with too big a gap to bridge to catch the top ten, therefore the team decided to retire the car to save mileage.
Bottas is disappointed with how his race shaped out in what was a difficult grand prix.
“Obviously, that was a very disappointing day for me and a tough way to end the weekend, after it started so promisingly on Friday. I struggled on the formation lap to get temperature into the tyres and then being on the dirty side of the grid, I had no grip for the start, so I was just wheel spinning, and was skating around on the first lap. Then I got into a bit of a DRS train but once the gaps opened up, I could make progress, the pace was good, and I could go long on the stint.
“But then, all of a sudden, I had the puncture without any vibration or warning. We knew we were pushing the limit of the tyre, but I was still getting good grip, we still felt comfortable and staying out was our best shot at a podium. It failed just after the pit entry as well, so the most unlucky part of the track, and the car got so damaged on the lap back to the pits we felt it was safer to retire and save the mileage.”