F1 racing is back this week, and so is the Sprint event.
With the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix almost upon us, there are plenty of things to look forward to, with everyone’s eyes on Max Verstappen, who is all set to secure his third World Title in Lusail.
The Dutchman has been unstoppable in what has been a one-man show, with his title all but confirmed. Here are some other things to keep in mind ahead of the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix.
Also read: Formula One (F1) Sponsors 2023
Verstappen takes his crown
Reigning World Champion and current Championship leader Max Verstappen is on the verge of securing his third consecutive World Title. Both Red Bull and Verstappen have been in a league of their own this season; of the 14 Red Bull wins this season, Verstappen has won an astounding 12. There simply hasn’t been anyone close to Verstappen for the last two seasons.
The Dutchman is all set to secure his third World Drivers’ Championship this weekend. In a first, we could see Verstappen become a three-time World Champion on Saturday rather than Sunday. With a Sprint event scheduled this weekend, he just needs to score six points on Saturday, and if he does so, where his nearest rival, his teammate Sergio Pérez, finishes will be irrelevant.
Get ready to see the 2023 Formula One Drivers’ Champion get crowned this weekend. Expect Verstappen to be on the top step of the podium on Sunday as well.
Pole Prediction: Max Verstappen
Win Prediction: Red Bull
Getting taken over
When the season started, while Red Bull seemed clear title favourites from the start, Aston Martin were the ones who were running away with the second spot in the Constructors’ Standings with six podium finishes from the opening eight races. Two of those were second-place finishes, and all of them came via their veteran driver Fernando Alonso.
Since the Austrian Grand Prix, however, there has been a drastic change in fortunes that has seen Aston Martin secure only one podium from the following eight races. The team have since dropped to fourth in the Constructors’ and are increasingly under the threat of dropping to fifth as McLaren continue to impress; with the Lando Norris-Oscar Piastri duo having brought them back in contention for podiums, McLaren are now just 49 points behind Aston Martin.
After a double podium finish in Japan, expect McLaren to have another strong weekend in Qatar, with Aston Martin likely to struggle once again.
Podium favourites: McLaren
The AlphaTauri situation
After being a strong midfield team for the majority of the turbo-hybrid era and a couple of strong podium finishes in 2020 and 2021, including Pierre Gasly’s incredible win in Monza, the sister Red Bull team were looking to continue their upward trend to the front of the midfield ahead of the 2022 season.
However, the Faenza-based team had a season to forget in 2022 as they finished second last. This year, they lie right at the bottom of the table with only five points to their name.
AlphaTauri are currently on their third driver pairing for the season, having started with Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries only to remove the latter mid-season and bring back Daniel Ricciardo, who fractured his hand two races into his comeback and was replaced by Liam Lawson.
AlphaTauri are lacking consistency as well, having been woefully off the pace. While there might be some race pace on Sunday, no-shows on Saturdays have cost them dearly.
Expect AlphaTauri to have another tough weekend in Qatar.
Circuit: Lusail International Circuit
Venue: Lusail, Al Daayen, Qatar
Practice Session 1 time: 19:00, October 6
Qualifying time: 22:30, October 6
Sprint Shootout time: 18:30, October 7
Sprint time: 23:00, October 7
Main race time: 22:30, October 8
Where to watch: F1 TV Pro
(All timings IST)