Turkish GP: Bottas Takes Victory, 2 Podiums For Red Bull 

Turkish GP podium

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas won the Turkish GP. The Finn clenching his 10th career victory in his last season with the German team. His team mate, Lewis Hamilton came fifth losing the lead in the World Championship to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen – who is now 6 points ahead. His partner, Sergio Perez sealed the podium place. 

Rain at Turkish GP

The race started with dark clouds and a wet track which saw everyone on the grid with the intermediate (green) tyres. The pole sitter, Valtteri Bottas pulled away from the second place, Max Verstappen with a good reaction time. On the first lap at Turn 1, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly made a little contact with Fernando Alonso, sending his Alpine for a spin. This cost him positions and later in the lap, found himself touching  Mick Schumacher’s Haas. 

These two incidents were soon under investigation and a decision of a 5 sec penalty was imposed on Gasly and Alonso – which they both served in the pits.

On the opening stages, Hamilton and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who were both down with grid place penalties, charged up through the field. On Lap 8, Hamilton overtook AlphaTauri’s rookie, Yuki Tsunoda, who did a great job in holding his ninth position for sometime. And before Lap 20, Sainz overtook the Japanese with his out-braking manoeuver .

Ricciardo’s pace; Breathtaking Lap 35

Where some drivers made places up the grid, McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was stuck. The Monza winner lacked pace the whole weekend. And adding to that misery was the engine penalty that was announced a few hours before the race began, making him start from P20. He struggled with locking of the rear brake and was also the first one to pit for the second set of intermediates. Those tyres take a long time to get heat and as a result his pace deteriorated.

Nikita Mazepin compromised Hamilton’s efforts to close the gap to Sergio Perez. The backbencher took the racing line despite being shown the blue flag to let Lewis pass. Soon, the Briton lapped the Haas and on Lap 35 put up an interesting fight with Red Bull’s Perez – going side by side, overtaking the Mexican on the start-finish line but in the end Perez was able to defend his place by taking the inside at Turn 1.

Trip to the pitlane

By Lap 37, few drivers started heading to the pitlane for a fresh set of intermediates. However, the only driver to gamble with the medium tyres was Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel at Lap 38. The team soon realized that there was no way he’d be able to drive with the dry tyres. With spins aplenty, he came to the pits again and changed his tyres back to the greens. 

Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc went on to become the race leader when Bottas and Verstappen went into the pits. He constantly asked over the team radio if it was suitable for him to remain out for the entirety of the remaining race. Though the reply was positive, he started struggling with Bottas at his back and soon the Mercedes retook the lead at Lap 47.

Having lost the chance of a potential win, the Monegasque pitted in the next lap and came out in fourth place behind Hamilton.

Turkish GP was not like Sochi for Hamilton

Hamilton initially rejected the call to pit but later came in at Lap 51. Though agreeing to his team worked in Sochi, it didn’t play out well here. He came out at fifth and the new sets didn’t had the pace of his old tyres for the ending laps. 

The same happened with Charles Leclerc who started struggling with the rear grip. And on Lap 52, Sergio Perez overtook him at Turn 9. On the final lap, McLaren’s Ricciardo lost two places as the Alpha Romeo duo made their way past him, demoting him to P13.

Though the Turkish GP did not live upto the hype, it definitely gave few interesting instances such as Alpine’s Esteban Ocon who did not pit at all. He drove all the 58 laps with the same tyres on, a risky move but he still managed to finish tenth.

The Istanbul Circuit gave Valtteri Bottas his first win of the season and Driver of the Day to Carlos Sainz. Both of it came after a long time. Sainz got the majority votes of the fans as he finished P8 from P19, a phenomenal drive indeed.

Though it was a lot of work for some of the drivers but for second place, Max Verstappen, his greatest struggle was to “stay awake”. Can’t totally disagree, right?

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