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Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen celebrates winning the Qatar Grand Prix at Lusail International Circuit on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Losail: Max Verstappen followed up his third Formula One title with yet another race win Sunday as he eased to victory in the Qatar Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver, who clinched the title in Saturday’s sprint race, started on pole and was comfortably ahead of the rest of the field on his way to his 14th Grand Prix win in 2023.

Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris finished second and third in a double podium finish for McLaren.

“I think what made the race was my first stint, and after that I could just manage my pace, making sure that the tires were in a good window,” Verstappen said. “But the McLarens were quick again today. I had to push for it. It’s definitely a tough race out there.”

Mercedes collide

The two Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton started behind Verstappen on the grid but collided at the first corner, ending seven-time champion Hamilton’s race. Piastri charged through for second place as Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc ahead of him slowed to avoid the crash.

Second place continues an impressive streak for Australian rookie Piastri, who achieved his first career podium finish at the Japanese Grand Prix two weeks ago and won the Qatar sprint race Saturday.

Piastri told his team it was “probably the hardest race I’ve ever had in my life,” adding his thanks for “whoever bowled everyone over at turn one,” in a reference to the Mercedes crash.

Norris has been on the podium for four races in a row including the sprint — though a first career win still eludes the British driver because of Verstappen’s domination.

Safety concerns

Safety concerns over the tires meant drivers were banned from using the same tires for more than 18 laps. That meant a minimum of three pit stops in the 57-lap race, so strategy played a prominent role.

Piastri likened the race to “57 qualifying laps” since the frequent stops meant no need for drivers to ease off and prevent tire wear.

At one stage, Verstappen even lapped his teammate Sergio Perez, who trailed in ninth in another disappointing performance.