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  • Reese Mautone

Qatar GP: Who Wins, Who Loses?

The results of the Qatar Grand Prix could have dire effects on both the Constructor's and Driver's Championship standings as we head into the third last race of the season.

Verstappen vs. Hamilton

These two drivers have been breathing down each other's necks all season. Currently, Verstappen holds a 14-point lead over the 7-time world Champion, however, that small margin could easily be extended or reduced within seconds as a result of a DNF or penalty. On the topic of penalties, tensions are rising between their teams as a result of Verstappen's Turn 4 antics in Brazil last weekend with Mercedes requesting a review of the incident, appealing for a different outcome on the basis of the original decision being made by the stewards without sufficient evidence. Both Max and Lewis are hungrier than ever to be crown 2021 Driver's Champion, but could over-ambitious moves get in the way of the 'let them race' mindset?

Mercedes vs. Red Bull

Just like their drivers, these teams have been at the forefront of the constructor's standing the entire year. Mercedes' pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas up against Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez has managed to stay on par points-wise for the past 19 races, making the prediction of who will come out on top a nearly impossible task. Despite it being a flip of the coin situation, some tracks are more suited to one's car than the others. Speaking on's podcast, F1 Journalist Mike Seymour contended this exact subject.

"It looks like more of a Mercedes track on paper."

"But we've said so many times this year, 'This track is a Red Bull track' or 'This track is a Mercedes track' and it's changed from our expectations and even throughout each weekend.” Seymour said, "I think, like all races right now, it's difficult to call. You'd probably give Mercedes the edge, but we'll have to see as the weekend unfolds.” The unknown is an very exciting prospect for us fans, and an even more nerve-wracking one for teams.

Norris vs. Leclerc vs. Sainz

These 3 have provided fans with some of the most exciting results this season, always pulling through when you least expect it, partly due to their cars wavering ability at different circuits but also due to the quality of the top teams who rarely make way for someone else to accompany them on the podium. Though this weekend, it is expected that Norris and his team will hold the upper hand.

“There are still some tracks on the way that I think might suit our car better than the previous ones." The Briton had said prior to arriving in Qatar, "But Ferrari is strong, they have a stronger package at the moment than ours, so we have to push even more”

What makes this battle one to watch is the slim number of points between each driver. Lando Norris sits in P5, 3 points ahead of Charles Leclerc who's teammate Carlos Sainz closely trails by 8.5 points. Much like Verstappen and Hamilton's fight, there is a battle between these drivers' teams as well with Ferrari and McLaren edging each other on for P3.

Ferrari vs. McLaren

Having traded positions after the Mexican GP, Ferrari now holds a healthy 31.5 point lead over McLaren in the battle for P3 in the Constructor's Championship. Despite McLaren's 1-2 in Monza, Ferrari's consistency has seen them bring home a healthy haul of points week in and week out, against McLaren's sometimes shaky performances. A slow start in comparison to Sainz's quick adaptability to his new car and team this season, Daniel Riccardo had a less than favourable beginning with his new team, starting them off on the back foot if it weren't for the strong performances from the other side of the garage. Ferrari's Leclerc and Sainz sit in P6 and P7 respectively, whilst Norris is above them by a slim margin of points in P5 with Ricciardo trailing behind Sainz in P8. The Losail International Circuit is said to favour McLaren's car according to Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto.

“We have never driven in Qatar and there are many corners that could cause us problems"

“We have to prepare well, because it is up to us to show that we can stay ahead of them” Binotto insisted. The Turn 1 collision between Norris and Sainz on the opening lap highlighted just how easily points can be won and lost, making any mistake costly for both teams and their drivers from here on out.

Alpine vs. Alpha Tauri

A battle that doesn't get so much attention is the fight between Alpine and Alpha Tauri. Heading into Sunday's race, these teams sit on equally with 112 points each in P5 and P6. Pierre Gasly's dominant ability has seen him able to breeze past the likes of Ferrari and

McLaren more and more often. The Frenchmen is partnered with rookie teammate Yuki Tsunoda who has not had as much skill as his teammate in the AT01 in his opening season, costing the team valuable points that would have been able to elevate them beyond their closest rivals. Alpine has had a year in which near enough hasn't been good enough, just missing out on Q3 entries on many occasions. With the experience of returning World Champion Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon who's been with the team since 2020, alpine looked in good stead to take out P5 this season, however, Alpha Tauri's surprising pace soon knocked back theories that it was going to be a smooth sailing ride into the top 5.

What makes this battle so exciting, like with the battle for P3, is its impact on the 2022 cars next year for the team which comes out on top. The prize money is what drives the teams to continue the fight, but for the drivers involved, it's redemption, proving people wrong and making a statement that will see them risk it all for those last few precious points.

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