It was chaotic early, there were thrusts and parry when it came to strategy but that didn’t matter much for Verstappen, who led from start to finish to bounce back from a disappointing Singapore grand prix and secure his 47th career win.
His garage is in raptures, as the win secures Red Bull a sixth constructors’ championship.
Lap 52/53: Sainz is now trying to hunt down Hamilton for fifth-place, with his teammate Leclerc well out in front of Hamilton in fourth.
Lap 51/53: Verstappen is way out in front and also has the race’s fastest lap to his name. A great return to form after Singapore. Norris remains in second and it looks almost certain that Piastri will grab his first podium finish in his rookie season.
Lap 50/53: Final laps of the race and now Hamilton is being told to give Russell the DRS so he can defend against Sainz. It doesn’t matter, as the Ferrari blasts through to take sixth-place. The inversion of their two positions the lap prior now being questioned by the broadcast, was it the right call?
Lap 49/53: Russell is being told to invert the positions with Hamilton and he complies. Russell is now going to come under massive pressure from Leclerc – broadcast isn’t a fan of the move.
Lap 48/53: If Mercedes are going to switch around Russell and Hamilton to allow the latter to try and chase down Leclerc, they’re going to have to make a move soon. Complicating matters, though, is that Sainz is lurking behind both of them.
Lap 47/53: Race control look at Leclerc’s overtake of Russell, if he left the track to gain an advantage but ultimately don’t act. Mercedes getting on the radio telling Hamilton to give Russell “plenty of room” in their battle for fifth.
Lap 46/53: Right now, it’s looking like Verstappen might win the driver’s championship in the Qatar sprint next Saturday. A bit of a squib considering his dominant season.
Lap 45/53: Leclerc finally gets around Russell! An audacious move to get around the outside on turn one and move into fourth-place.
Lap 44/53: Third-placed Piastri gets on the radio and indicates that if there’s another safety car called for he’s coming in for soft tyres – the Aussie desperately seeking a podium finish.
Lap 43/53: Leclerc is monstering Russell in trying to move into fourth but the Mercedes man, for now, is holding firm.
Lap 42/53: Russell’s one-stop strategy doesn’t look like it’s going to pay dividends, overtaken by Piastri and being hounded down by Leclerc, with Hamilton lurking in the distance.
Lap 41/52: After a number of attempts, Piastri chases down Russell on the home straight at the end of the lap and moves into the podium places.
Lap 40/53: Verstappen sitting pretty in front, Red Bull look set to win the constructor’s championship: outscoring Mercedes and avoiding being outscored by 24 or more by Ferrari.
Lap 39/53: Perez is still sitting in pit lane waiting to be spent back out there. Meanwhile, Hamilton, the main chasing him down in the driver’s championship, sits in fifth-place, trying to chase down Leclerc and hold off Sainz.
Lap 38/53: Sainz finally moves into the pits at the end of the lap and emerges in seventh-place – ahead of Alonso and behind Hamilton.
Lap 37/53: Second-placed Norris pits and emerges with a fresh set of hard tyres. He emerges in fourth-place just behind Russell, who is on much-much older tyres. Verstappen goes into the pits at the end of the lap but retains first-place.
Lap 36/53: Piastri now pits as well and emerges back out in fifth position ahead of Leclerc and Hamilton. Sainz is still yet to pit again.
Lap 35/53: Leclerc and Hamiltion both pit and it’s a good one for the Ferrari driver, just two seconds. They emerge in sixth and seventh.
Lap 34/53: Hamilton continues to hunt down Sainz for fifth-place as Russell behind him is asked to find a bit more pace by his team, with projections showing they’re likely to be under a bit of pressure at the end of the race.
Lap 33/53: Verstappen is going to win this at a canter, effectively ensuring he’ll win the tile in Qatar next time out.
Lap 32/53: Verstappen leads, followed by Norris, Piastri, Leclerc, Sainz, Hamilton, and Russell.
Lap 31/53: Perez is being sent back out there to serve his penalty after contacting the FIA to make sure they can do that. Apparently they can. He’ll come back out seven laps down. How fun.
Lap 30/53: Verstappen continues to put some distance between himself and the chasing pack on his mediums – nearly 15 seconds clear of second-placed Norris.
Lap 29/53: Leclerc and Sainz are bunched up pretty close together in fourth and fifth chasing the pair of McLarens and with the Mercedes behind them. Alonso has pitted again and is now up into ninth.
Albon is now out as well, Williams first double-retirement since Singapore in 2022.
Lap 28/53: Is Red Bull going to send Perez back out there? He’s in the car again. Sky commentators pontificating on if he’ll be sent out there for testing or to wipe away any possible penalties heading into the next race in Qatar. It very much looks like he’s coming out.
Lap 27/53: And now Norris is ahead of Piastri, as the Australian moves aside without much fuss as McLaren try to strategise on how to keep Mercedes and their other rivals at bay.
Lap 26/53: Norris continues to try to get ahead of his teammate Piastri for second.
Lap 25/53: Russell has pitted and emerges at the back of the leading pack – before promptly overtaking Alonso despite his best efforts. Norris is on the radio not so subtly looking for approval to attack his teammate Piastri for second.
Logan Sargeant’s day is done, the fourth retirement today.
Lap 24/53: Verstappen is now over ten seconds clear at the front of the pack, followed by Russell, Piastri, Norris, Leclerc, Sainz, Hamilton, Ocon, Alonso, and Gasly. Alonso telling his team to think of something because Ocon has him beat for pace on straights.
Lap 23/53: Sky commentary crew suggesting that second-placed Russell might be on a one-stop strategy. Norris’ team think similar, which leads them to tell him on the radio he’s only a threat if they abuse their tyres.
Lap 22/53: Verstappen continues to lead, opening up an almost seven-second gap on second-place Russell with his fresher medium tyres.
Lap 21/53: The Aston Martin of Alonso just doesn’t have the pace to go with his rivals as Hamilton moves up to monster him for eighth and takes it from him. Alonso is complaining on the radio that he’s been thrown to the lions with his team’s strategy as his teammate Stroll appears set to become the third car forced to retire.
Lap 20/53: Lando Norris set a new fastest lap on lap 19, having put a fresh set of hard tyres on. He sits in fourth, trailing Verstappen, Russell, and Piastri. Sainz with a neat little move to get past Alonso and take over seventh place.
Lap 19/53: On fresher tyres, Verstappen re-takes the lead from Russell.
Lap 18/53: All of the leading crew are beginning to enter pit lane for the first time, with Norris and Sainz also going in. Russell, yet to stop, leads from Verstappen and Piastri.
Lap 17/53: Verstappen pits and emerges back in fifth. Norris now leads from Ferrari duo Leclerc and Sainz, followed by Russell, Verstappen, and Piastri.
Lap 16/53: Hamilton briefly goes off the track and is immediately treated to his teammate Russell getting right up behind him and looking to take fifth-place. The Mercedes duo are absolutely going at it.
Perez forced to retire
Lap 15/53: Verstappen is well out in front but his teammate and closest rival for the championship is forced to retire. Good news for the former’s title hopes but it will fall on him and him alone to secure Red Bull the constructor’s championship.
Lap 14/53: It gets even better for Piastri as the virtual safety car departs already – meaning that his rivals will be unable to take advantage of the second-saving advantage it provides.
Virtual Safety Car
Good timing for Piastri as he pits at the almost exact same moment that a virtual safety car is called for – great timing for the Aussie.