One driver tipped to cause Max Verstappen upset at Qatar Grand Prix

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull's Max Verstappen on pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen has only ever been beaten by two team-mates.

Formula 1 presenter Tom Clarkson has tipped Lando Norris to score a first grand prix victory as misfortune cuts Max Verstappen down in Qatar.

While some feared that Norris’ best chance to win in Formula 1 potentially came and went at the 2021 Russian GP, the Brit is lurking again to become a grand prix winner for the first time, having scored four P2 finishes in F1 2023 at the wheel of the far-improved McLaren MCL60.

The problem is that he has Formula 1’s dominant force Verstappen in his way, the Red Bull driver having returned to his unstoppable ways with a commanding victory in Japan, where McLaren duo Norris and Oscar Piastri completed the podium.

Lando Norris tipped to win Qatar Grand Prix

Verstappen only needs a top-six finish in the Qatar sprint race to crown himself a three-time World Champion, which Clarkson expects Verstappen to achieve, but then he foresees a surprise podium come the end of Sunday’s Grand Prix.

“I think Max is going to win the sprint and he’s going to win the championship at the same time,” said Clarkson as host of the F1 Nation podcast.

“I feel that Lando Norris is due his first win in Formula 1. And if that car is as good as we think it’s going to be, a little bit of misfortune maybe? Remember, we had those four punctures two years ago, just a little bit of misfortune for Max and Norris is in there. So I’m going to go a Norris victory this weekend.

“Closely pursued by his team-mate Oscar Piastri and then I think Checo Perez is going to have dusted himself down after Singapore and Japan and he’s going to put in a solid performance and he’s going to be on the third step of the podium on Sunday.

“So it’s Norris, Piastri and Perez, only because some kind of misfortune has fallen in the way of Max Verstappen.”

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Former F1 racer Pedro de la Rosa is also certain that Verstappen will secure this third title in as many seasons during the Qatar sprint, but come Sunday, he expects Verstappen will be on the top step of the podium with a repeat of the Suzuka top three.

“My prediction for Sunday is the copy paste from the podium in Suzuka, Max winning, Lando and Oscar,” he said.

“And there’s no question mark whatsoever that Max will win the championship on the Saturday. Definitely. Unfortunately, not a very interesting prediction from my side.”

The Lusail International Circuit has undergone major renovations ahead of Formula 1’s return, having hosted the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix in 2021.

Read next – First look: Revamped Lusail International Circuit as F1 returns to Qatar