TURKISH GP – Valtteri Bottas wins in Istanbul in fine drive as Lewis Hamilton left frustrated by strategy

Testing & Race Reports

Valtteri Bottas has won the Turkish Grand Prix with a fine drive to finish fourteen seconds ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. The Mercedes took his first victory in over a year with a brilliant drive showing good pace and tyre management despite the difficult conditions.

Bottas retook the lead from Leclerc when the Ferrari made his stop late on, the strategy of trying to get through the race on a single set of tyres not paying off for the Monacan, losing position to both Red Bull’s late in the race. The Finn led almost every lap of the race only really losing it because of his pit stop.

Second place for Verstappen allowed him to regain the lead of the championship by six points going to the Americas in two weeks’ time. A great drive considering Red Bull looked to struggle throughout Friday practice, and while Mercedes still went onto win, both Red Bull’s in the top three was the best result in terms of the championship

But there was no wet weather heroics from Verstappen or championship rival Lewis Hamilton, normally the two best drivers in the wet. But Mercedes will be happy with how many places Hamilton made up on the opening lap of the race, despite questions about Mercedes strategy in the race with Hamilton annoyed with the decision to make the late stop which cost him third, the debate will continue.

On team radio, Hamilton asked “why”. With the repones from race engineer Pete Bonington being “The new inter is the way to go,” came the reply. But Hamilton insisted: “I don’t think it is. It feels like we should stay out.”

While he maintained that his tyres could have gone to the end of the race, he said: “The tyres are bald so you don’t know how far they’re going to go, and there’s definitely the worry of the life of the tyre.” Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff backed the engineers saying Hamilton may not have even made it to the end of the race.

The race proved to be tricky but appeared that all the drivers managed the conditions well with no accidents or retirements from the race. Perez meanwhile drove perfectly during the finished third ahead of Charles Leclerc and Hamilton.

Verstappen said, “Valtteri had more pace but overall very pleased. It was all about managing the tyres. I’m happy to be on the podium.”

The final round of stops was triggered by Verstappen on lap thirty-six, Bottas followed him in and retained the lead Perez also stopped. Hamilton meanwhile waited until lap forty-two, losing position to Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly with fifteen to go. It was a difficult decision by Mercedes trying to retain position in the championship.

Hamilton did regain a position from Gasly in the closing stages but was unable to chase after Leclerc. Leclerc had been attempting as well to get through the race on a single set of tyres before pitting late in the race and losing position to Perez.

Perez also did an incredibly good job during the middle part of the race to halt Hamilton’s charge, they were side-by-side going along the main straight in the second half of the race. Hamilton had got alongside going into Turn One, but Perez lunged ahead to maintain position.

The Ferrari driver made his stop following Bottas to try and take the win, but his tyres faded. While Hamilton got close to the Ferrari, but he then had to back off in the closing stages once his tyres went through the graining phase, but fended off the Alpha Tauri.

Hamilton drove an incredibly strong race after starting eleventh because of penalties, within the first ten laps he had pulled off some incredible overtakes working his way up to third. While he wanted to stay out in the closing stages he was ordered in by Mercedes to change tyres.

Mercedes argued however that the seven-time champion would have lost more positions by not stopping.

But, he ran into problems with his new tyres and expressed his anger over the radio as he fought to hold off Gasly, having lost places to Perez and Leclerc. Ferrari meanwhile had been hoping that changing Leclerc to the fresher inters would have allowed him to close up on the top two, but Perez took third when they were all forced into stopping.

Gasly was awarded a five-second penalty for his first pit stop following a collision with Fernando Alonso at the first corner, the Spaniard also picked up a penalty early on because of an incident on lap two with Mick Schumacher. Lando Norris finished seventh four seconds ahead of Carlos Sainz.

The Spaniard pulling off good overtakes after starting nineteenth and coming through the field. He was voted by fans driver of the day.

Lance Stroll was ninth ahead of Esteban Ocon, although the Alpine driver struggled towards the end of the race, both managed to get through on a single set of inters without making a pit stop. Antonio Giovinazzi finished eleventh five seconds ahead of his Alfa Romeo teammate Kimi Raikkonen, a strong race for the team.

Daniel Ricciardo was thirteenth following an early pit stop, he finished two and a half seconds behind Raikkonen. Yuki Tsunoda was fourteenth ahead of the Williams of George Russell and Nicolas Latifi, spilt by the Alpine of Fernando Alonso.

Sebastian Vettel was the only driver to attempt a switch to slicks on lap twenty-three, the Aston Martin driver however struggled going off track twice before pitting at the end of the lap returning to inters, he finished eighteenth. Mick Schumacher finishing ahead of Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin.

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