Oscar Piastri was all smiles after crossing the line to secure his maiden Formula 1 victory during Saturday’s Sprint race at the Qatar Grand Prix, having led home Red Bull rival Max Verstappen and McLaren team mate Lando Norris.

Piastri, Verstappen and Norris started the 19-lap dash on the medium compound tyre, while the Mercedes of George Russell and the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc behind opted for softs, leading to a tight battle off the line.

Verstappen and Norris lost out to that soft-shod trio on the run to the first corner, with Russell then passing Piastri for the lead of the race between two early Safety Car periods, but the strategic situation remained finely poised.

As the laps ticked by, the race moved back toward the medium runners and Piastri ultimately emerged on top, while Verstappen and Norris also managed to clear Russell and the two Ferrari drivers, who were beaten to the finish by the other Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.

Speaking after the encounter, Piastri said: “I’m very happy. It was a very stressful race! When I saw all the soft [tyre] guys come through at the start, I thought we were in a bit of trouble, but then their tyres fell off pretty quickly – that was good.

“Safety Cars were my friend today, definitely once Max got behind me, but the pace was reasonable… I think in a race where you had to manage a lot, the tyres, cars on other compounds, I think we did a really good job.”

In a race that saw Verstappen confirmed as world champion for a third successive season, Piastri added: “I thought once he got through into second I was going to be in a bit of trouble, but the pace was good, I managed the tyres well. First Sprint win sounds pretty cool!”

Piastri managed to get back ahead of Russell as the race developed before cruising to victory

On the other side of the McLaren garage, and prior to joining his team mate and title-winner Verstappen on the podium, Norris said: “First of all, congrats to Oscar, congrats to Max. It’s Oscar’s first win, earlier than mine, so a big well done to him.

“It was a tough race for me… A bad start made everything much trickier, but we fought back well, some fun racing, good overtakes, all the way to the last lap on George. It’s another podium for us and for our team, so it’s been a mega day.”

After Verstappen and Red Bull’s title celebrations, attention will turn to Sunday’s main event, the Qatar Grand Prix, with the Dutchman set to start on pole and McLaren pair Piastri and Norris lining up sixth and 10th respectively after getting lap times deleted for track limits violations in qualifying.


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