Hamilton Dominates In Qatar As 2022 F1 Season Enters Home Straight

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Max Verstappen still leads the driver's championship, however.

The first-ever Qatar Grand Prix is done and dusted, and the results are in. It was a tough race for Red Bull, which must be feeling deflated after yet another stunning win by Lewis Hamilton. Not only did the Brit grab the top spot, but he did so by an almost unbelievable 25 seconds.

Max Verstappen is still in the lead, but the points gap between him and Lewis Hamilton is down to just eight points. Suppose Lewis Hamilton wins the next Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia and gains an extra point for the fastest lap, and Max Verstappen finishes second. In that case, the two gladiators will be tied going into the final race. No matter who wins the championship this year, it's the fans who will emerge victorious. This has been the first worthwhile season in F1 for more than a decade from a spectator's perspective.

The constructor's championship is also closer than ever, following Valtteri's DNF. Just five points separate Mercedes and Red Bull Racing Honda.

Here are some highlights as well as some things you may have missed this weekend.

Mercedes F1
Mercedes F1
Mercedes F1

Alonso Goes For The Goat

There has been a lot of debate around the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) after Sir Lewis Hamilton became the first F1 driver to score triple-digit victories. We even wrote an opinion piece about the whole debacle and how impossible it is to name a GOAT.

In there, we mentioned Fernando Alonso because we reckoned he still had it in him. This year, he's driving a mid-field Alpine, which, in all honesty, shouldn't even be on Mercedes or Red Bull's radar as a threat. Yet, there have been multiple times this season where he was a fierce obstacle on their way to victory.

And yet, one of the most adaptable drivers of all time shared a podium with them. Alonso is a two-time F1 champion, two-time Le Mans winner, and has experience in IndyCar and Dakar racing. No matter what you put him in, he's fast AF.

It has been seven long years since Alonso made his way to the podium, and seeing him up there was the highlight of the weekend. With most fans being tired of the constant bickering at the top, it was nice to see an old-school racer show the young ones how it should be done. Perhaps Kimi shouldn't retire just yet.

Alpine F1 Team/Facebook
Alpine F1 Team/Facebook

Is The Championship Decided?

We're sad to say it, but everything favors Mercedes at the moment. Today, we found out that Mercedes wasn't even running Hamilton's "spicy" engine in the Qatar Grand Prix, opting instead to leave it for the much faster Saudi Grand Prix.

At the moment, there's nothing Red Bull can do to keep up with that car, and it would be disheartening to the fans to have gone through this exciting championship only for Mercedes to keep on dominating the final few races.

On the flip side, credit where it's due: Merc built a monster of a car, and it takes a skilled driver to get the most out of it. To say that Hamilton is only faster because of his vehicle completely discounts his skill behind the wheel.

Red Bull needs to pull a rabbit out of the hat at this point. We quite like that because if they somehow manage to win, it will be that much sweeter.

Mercedes-AMG F1
Mercedes-AMG F1
Mercedes-AMG F1

The Tension Keeps Building

Red Bull had a terrible weekend off the grid. It took a proper beatdown from the FIA, just like Mercedes had received a week before. If anything, it proved that there is no conspiracy to favor one driver over the other.

The weekend started tensely, with Red Bull still waiting to see whether Verstappen would be penalized after the Turn 4 incident at Brazil. He was not, but it's the comments that came afterward that showed us the true colors of the two teams at the top.

Toto Wolff said that he expected the verdict handed down by the FIA but that the right to review was not about that. As he famously said, the time for diplomacy has ended. Christian Horner, not known for backing down from a fight, later said in a press conference that he doesn't feel the need to kiss Toto's ass.

Horner complained about a rogue marshall after Verstappen received a five-place grid penalty for ignoring a double yellow flag. Verstappen said he was expecting it, and Hamilton simply called it fair, as the same thing happened to him earlier this year. The FIA called Horner in for talking smack about it, and he later apologized. This is all off-the-track stuff that took place before the actual Grand Prix.

Mercedes F1
Red Bull Content Pool

Who Ran A Better Race?

Yes, Hamilton won the race, but you have to give props to Verstappen for pushing his way from seventh to second. He managed to overtake Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz, and Pierre Gasly on the first lap.

He then came up to Fernando Alonso, who proved to be a severe threat multiple times this season. Alonso put up an epic battle, keeping Verstappen behind him for four laps. This allowed Hamilton to open a massive gap between him and second place. We know Verstappen had the pace to keep up with him since Hamilton wasn't using the "spicy" engine.

There was nobody to challenge Hamilton. He certainly deserved his victory, and nobody can take that away. But Verstappen drove like a man on a mission, and his second-place finish was nearly as impressive.

Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull Content Pool

Pirelli Will Investigate Tire Failures

Valtteri Bottas, George Russel, Nicholas Latifi, and Lando Norris had similar tire failures. Pirelli knew which tire would take the most pressure going into the race, and nothing showed up in their simulations.

The wrecked tires were flown to Milan for investigation, but the current theory concerns the high curbs at the track. If you watched the free practice and qualifying sessions, you would have seen the cars scraping their bellies on the higher curbs.

As the race went on, the tires wore down, making them more vulnerable to damage from the curbs. Unfortunately, since this was the first Qatar Grand Prix, Pirelli has no previous data to compare. To be fair to F1's tire supplier, it warned the teams against a one-stop strategy due to the high levels of wear.


Jeddah Still Under Construction

The Saudi Grand Prix is yet another all-new track for F1. Jeddah's Corniche Circuit is the fastest street circuit ever. With average corner speeds of around 158 mph, it's slower only than Monza. It also has the most corners, most of them fast.

The thing is, they're still building it. Throughout the weekend, news emerged that the track was still under construction. This essentially forced the Saudi F1 promoters to release footage of how far the structure has come. There are currently 3,000 construction workers working 24/7 to get things ready. Saudi Arabia has a lot of cash to throw around. If you pitch up there in a LaFerrari, they put you on income support.

It seems pretty okay to us, and the racers will be well-prepared thanks to simulators. Once they get there, it will take around ten to 15 laps to settle in if we go by what we saw in Qatar.


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