PIASTRI WINS THE SPRINT, VERSTAPPEN WINS THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Oscar Piastri won the Qatar Sprint, thus ending Red Bull’s run of three wins out of three in this season’s Saturday short format races. Max Verstappen was second past the chequered flag, which was good enough for him to clinch his third world championship title, with six Grands Prix still to go this year. Verstappen thus joins other three-time winners, Jack Brabham, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna and Jackie Stewart.
THE DAY ON TRACK
It was an unusual Saturday, as the FIA introduced an extra ten minute free practice session prior to the Shootout, to allow the drivers to familiarise themselves with the new track layout, following modifications made to turns 12 and 13. As per the regulations, for the Sprint Shootout, the drivers had to use just one set of Medium tyres for each of the first two sessions and then one set of Softs in Q3 for the remaining 10 drivers: eight of them opted for a new set of C3, while Ocon and Alonso went with one they had used yesterday.
For the 19 lap Sprint Race, the choice of tyre was well balanced, with 12 drivers going for the Medium and eight opting for the Soft. There were three Safety Car periods caused by accidents and cars getting stuck off track in the gravel run-off areas. During one of these periods, three drivers, Zhou, Stroll and Magnussen, came in for a pit stop: the Chinese driver and the Dane went from Medium to Soft, while the Canadian took on another set of C3s.
MARIO ISOLA - MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR
“First and foremost, we wish to congratulate Max Verstappen on his third world title, in a season in which he has been well and truly dominant.
It was a particularly busy day for Pirelli. As previously mentioned, during our usual analysis last night after free practice, we discovered that some tyres that had done 20 or more laps were showing signs of micro lacerations in the sidewall, between the topping compound and the carcass cords, most likely caused by the impact generated by repeatedly going over the kerbs at some corners, especially turns 12 and 13. We immediately informed the FIA, who proceeded to take action, by revising the track limits at these corners and instigating an additional free practice session prior to the Sprint Shootout, to allow the drivers to check out the new lines through this part of the track. Now, as is the case at every race weekend, we are analysing the sets returned to us at the end of the day. Once this procedure is completed, we will pass on the results of our findings to the FIA and, if necessary, further measures will be put in place for tomorrow night’s Grand Prix.
In terms of how the tyres behaved today on track, it was clear to see that the Medium was best suited for a long stint, as in the Sprint. The Soft provided extra performance at the start and at the three restarts, but over a distance it suffered from graining and heavy thermal degradation. In fact, on a track which was particularly slippery because of the sand blown across it by the wind, this was a predictable phenomenon.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, it is not worth speculating about strategies, given that we must wait for the outcome of our on-going analysis and then see if this has any regulatory effect on how the race will be run.”
Founded in 1872, Pirelli is a company with deep Italian roots now recognised all over the world for its cutting-edge technology, capacity for innovation, and the quality of its products. Motorsport has always played an important part in Pirelli’s strategy, following the ‘race to road’ philosophy. The company has been engaged in motorsport for 116 years and today supplies tyres to more than 350 championships on both two and four wheels. Pirelli pays constant attention to the most efficient use of natural resources and energy, aiming to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Pirelli has been Global Tyre Partner of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 2011. The company also supplies championships including FIA Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, FIA World Rally Championship and GT World Challenge, alongside numerous national series.