McLaren’s best chance of winning
On paper, the Losail circuit in Qatar suits McLaren’s car to a tee.
It’s full of high-speed, sweeping corners, with fewer lower speed corners than Suzuka – where McLaren were comfortably the second-fastest team behind Red Bull.
So in the fight for second behind Red Bull, it’s hard to see a situation where McLaren aren’t ahead of the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes this weekend.
But how close can they get to Max Verstappen and Red Bull?
The lack of low-speed corners works in their favour as that continues to be an area where McLaren lose out.
One factor that may work in McLaren’s favour is that it’s a sprint weekend meaning there’s just one practice session ahead of qualifying.
Mercedes managed to topple Red Bull at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix last year after the runaway champions failed to nail their car setup in the 60 minutes of running.
Similarly, Red Bull struggled to get the RB19 into the right window in Singapore, allowing Carlos Sainz to take Ferrari’s first victory in over a year.
Red Bull are no doubt the heavy favourites but it looks like McLaren will be even closer than usual.
Verstappen’s title coronation
Verstappen will become a three-time F1 champion at this weekend’s Qatar GP.
He only needs a sixth-place finish in the Saturday sprint to wrap up this year’s title.
Christian Horner dismissed concerns over the unusual prospect that Verstappen would win the title on a Saturday – rather than the usual Sunday – due to the sprint format.
“We don’t care when we win it – as long as we win it,” he said. “It’s about getting that trophy, getting that third title to his name.
The fact that it’s done in Qatar on a Saturday evening would make Sunday even more enjoyable to go into that grand prix, if he achieves it, as a three-time world champion. So I don’t think it really matters.”
Lawson’s final outing
Lawson has impressed since making his F1 debut at the Dutch Grand Prix, with many questioning why he isn’t on the grid for next year.
AlphaTauri have opted to stick with Tsunoda, while new CEO Peter Bayer wanted experience hence why Ricciardo gets a full season with the team.
Lawson’s last hope is Williams – who are still unsure about Logan Sargeant.
He has one last chance to impress this weekend.