HAMILTON WINS INAUGURAL QATAR GRAND PRIX
Lewis Hamilton wins in Qatar and closes the gap to Verstappen in the championship race and after leading every lap it was a dominant win the Red Bull's never looked like they would be able to compete with the outright pace of the Silver Arrows. Verstappen finishes in second with Alonso in the Alpine in third the first time Alonso has been on the podium since 2014.
It was a good start for Hamilton as he gets away well and leads into turn one Verstappen (who started from seventh after his penalty) already into fourth after passing Lando Norris in the McLaren - Alonso (Alpine) also into second with Gasly (Alpha Tauri) in third. Bottas (Mercedes) on the other hand had a bad start and finds himself down in eleventh.
Possible team orders comes through on lap four and Pierre Gasly goes wide coming onto the start / finish straight and Verstappen with the aid of DRS is given an easy pass on the Alpha Tauri and that puts the Red Bull into third place - Alonso still second with Hamilton out in the lead.
Just one lap later on lap five Verstappen passes Alonso and is into second and has his sights set on Hamilton.
The first stop from the top two came on lap 17 when Verstappen came in for his first stop - a very good stop from Red Bull just 2.2 seconds was Max stationary and is able to come back out in second - clearly trying to get Mercedes to react.
And they (Mercedes) do as on lap 18 Hamilton comes in and its a 2.3 second stop for the race leader and he exits the pits and is comfortably still in first the gap to Verstappen just under 10 seconds.
On lap 33 Valtteri Bottas gets a puncture on his left front tyre and has to go almost half a lap to get to the pit lane an impressive stop with a tyre and front wing change and Bottas was stationary for just 11.4 seconds and comes out in 14th place behind Ricciardo (McLaren).
Then on lap 41 Verstappen pits to go for the fastest lap as he is comfortably ahead of teammate Sergio Perez who at the time was in third. One lap later and Perez pits from third place and comes out in seventh. Hamilton then pits from first and stays there when he exits the pits over 8 seconds ahead of Max in second.
With just six laps left on lap 51 Bottas is retired and George Russell (Williams) limps round with a front left puncture.
Lap 52 - Latifi now has a puncture again on the front left tyre the same as Bottas and Russell.
Lap 53: Latifi pulls to the side and is out.
Lap 55: The VSC (Virtual Safety Car) is deployed to move the stranded Williams of Latifi. This gifts Alonso the podium as the VSC ends on the final lap meaning Perez couldn't push for the final laps and try to get the final podium place.
The next race is the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
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