It was a special race weekend from the very beginning. The course of the sprint is such that the qualification for the main Sunday race takes place on Friday instead of the traditional Saturday. Saturday is then reserved for a separate program – a shoot-out, i.e. a small qualification for the sprint, and then the sprint, which takes about a third of the total length of the race and does not require a pit stop.

Those limits again

The first confusions occurred already on Friday, because the FIA ​​once again got excited while monitoring the track limits. Any driver who crosses the extreme white lines in all four laps is in violation and his time from that lap is deleted. In the course of the qualification there were countless times, not only during but also after its end. Lando Norris, for example, took a nice second place and only shortly after getting out of the car did he learn that his fastest time did not count and he would start tenth. And so his colleague Oscar Piastri, who learned about the erasure of his time during the post-qualification interview, went to celebrate the third place! Chaos like crazy.

After all, track limits were a huge theme throughout the rest of the weekend. Several competitors could not tell and happily crossed the white lines during the sprint and the main race on Sunday. This has resulted in several five-second penalties that drivers can serve during a pit stop or be added to their finish time. The record holder for Sunday’s race was Sergio Pérez, who received three such penalties. Nevertheless, by some miracle he placed tenth and collected at least one point.

Seriously, wouldn’t it be better to dump the Tatras with gravel a little beyond the white line? Competitors would then change their mind about similar exits and the final list would not change after the end of the race itself.

Photo: F1

Thanks to his dominance, Max Verstappen celebrated his third title in a row already five races before the end of the season.

Pneu for a copy

However, there are more topics for discussion after Sunday’s race. After Friday’s races, Pirelli discovered minor damage to some tires that completed more than twenty laps. So, for the first time ever, the exclusive footwear supplier together with the FIA ​​decided to take an unprecedented step – the maximum number of wheels on one set! The driver had to head to the pits after eighteen laps.

But beware, not after eighteen laps in the race (which was 57 laps), but on the given set! And since the teams learned about this “rule” just four hours before the start, they had to work with what they had in stock. Theoretically, one set could go 18 laps, but if a pilot put it on in training and circled three laps, only fifteen were left on it.

And what’s most special, it didn’t matter if it was a soft set (fast but with the least endurance), medium or hard (slower but most durable). We understand the desire for maximum safety, but a very special command from the management resulted in the obligation of at least three pit stops and complete confusion, because you didn’t know who could go how many more laps on a given set. So, the graphics of the live broadcast tried to inform us honestly, but often showed the number of laps on a given set incorrectly.

Anyone who exceeded the given limit was threatened with disqualification. Fortunately, the teams only had to watch the tires of two drivers, but the fans, who were focused on the twenty competitors at the TV screens, had no chance to keep track. Well, perhaps this was the first and last time something like this happened…

Dropping competitors

For a long time after the race, we have not seen such fatigue on the faces of the riders as in Qatar. It was a little over thirty degrees at the destination, but all twenty pilots had to deal with extreme humidity and dehydration. Logan Sargeant retired due to nausea, Alonso complained of a “burning seat”, Ocon later admitted that he vomited straight into his helmet after a few laps. Lance Stroll, on the other hand, stated that he passed out for a short while behind the wheel and headed straight for the ambulance after reaching the finish line.

Photo: McLaren

McLaren took a double podium in Qatar, reaching the five-hundredth mark.

Strange, on the one hand safety comes first and does not allow riders to exceed the number of laps on one set, on the other hand their health is at risk because the race must reach the finish line no matter what. And to lose consciousness in a single-seater racing on a straight at over 300 km/h… Phew!

At the same time, there would be a solution. In two months, the average temperature in Qatar will be eight degrees lower, and at the beginning of the season in March it would even be eleven degrees lower. And since F1 does not travel the world gradually, but crosses it as it sees fit, the event of this extreme race could easily be moved. It is a great luck that everything turned out well in the end.

We have a champion!

So many topics that we almost forgot about the results themselves. Max Verstappen’s third championship win was a mere formality, he needed to grab at least three championship points in the sprint. But Pérez got involved in a collision during the short race and did not finish, at that moment the decision was made. Verstappen thus unusually became the champion already on Saturday. McLaren’s form was once again a huge surprise. Norris finished third and colleague Piastri even won the sprint!

The main race brought a mutual collision between Mercedes after the start, which was caused by his mistake and taken away by Lewis Hamilton’s resignation. Verstappen was leading, Piastri moved from sixth to second after the first corner thanks to this incident. McLaren colleague Lando Norris joined them on the podium.

The championship trophies already know their owners, but there will still be something to fight for in the remaining five grand prizes. In constructors, the situation behind Red Bull is as follows: 2. Mercedes (326 points), 3. Ferrari (298), 4. Aston Martin (230), 5. McLaren (219). With the rising form of the oranges and the fading Aston, we’re still in for some decent drama. Or that McLaren would even make it to the TOP 3?