Qatar GP: Hamilton claims victory as Verstappen recovers to P2

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Lewis Hamilton was in complete control as he claimed victory in Formula 1's first-ever Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Briton led every lap at Losail as he secured his seventh win of the season to further close the gap on Max Verstappen in the Drivers' Championship.

As for the Red Bull driver, he had to recover P7 on the grid after a 5-place penalty for ignoring yellow flags in qualifying, but an impressive start and early charge put him into second, where he would finish.

In third came Fernando Alonso for Alpine, the Spaniard capitalising on the penalties and other incidents to score his first podium since Hungary 2014.

Race Review

Drama before the race saw the stewards give Valtteri Bottas a 3-place grid penalty as well as Verstappen's 5-place penalty for ignoring yellow flags in Q3.

At the start, Hamilton held the lead as his championship rival made up three places to fourth. Bottas slipped back to P11 from P6 after starting on the dirty side of the grid.

Max's early charge continued, passing Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso in quick succession to run second behind Hamilton.

Sergio Perez also made a good start in the other Red Bull, to run in the top four by the end of the first stint.

Once in P2, Verstappen struggled to match the pace of Hamilton, who opened up a 10-second lead with ease.

As a result, the Dutchman would pit for hard tyres but was still able to resume in second, such was the advantage for the top two. Hamilton responded by also changing tyres a lap later.

Bottas ran long on his first stint to sit third but his race would be ruined by a puncture, leading to an eventual retirement.

Perhaps out of caution, the top three all pitted again for the medium tyre with 15 laps to go, dropping Perez down to seventh as a result.

That triggered a brief fastest lap battle with Verstappen pipping Hamilton to be in control of the extra point.

Checo's pit-stop put Alonso back up to third, but not even a robust defence from teammate Esteban Ocon could halt the Mexican's bid for a podium.

In the closing laps, a puncture for Norris promoted Perez up to fourth as both Williams also had tyre failures within a lap of each other.

That triggered a Virtual Safety Car after Nicholas Latifi came to a halt in the gravel, confirming the top three positions.

Hamilton's second win a week closes the gap to Verstappen to eight points, as Max secured the bonus point for fastest lap.

The VSC also guaranteed Fernando Alonso his first podium in seven years in third, as Perez's charge was halted.

Ocon completed a good day for Alpine in the Constructors' Championship in fifth, as the French manufacturer's main rival AlphaTauri failed to score.

Lance Stroll was sixth ahead of the two Ferraris led by Carlos Sainz. The Scuderia also further opened their lead over McLaren in the fight for third with Norris ninth and Sebastian Vettel rounding out the top 10.

Gasly could only finish 11th after starting second ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

Kimi Raikkonen led Antonio Giovinazzi as the two Alfa Romeos were 14th and 15th, Williams' dramas promoted Mick Schumacher to 16th ahead of Russell.

Nikita Mazepin finished a lap behind his teammate in 18th.

Full results from Sunday at Losail can be seen below: