Mercedes-AMG driver Valtteri Bottas has won a procession’s Turkish F1 Grand Prix when Australian Daniel Ricciardo announced his equally worst result this year as he battles again with his McLaren.
Mercedes-AMG driver Valtteri Bottas scored his first Formula 1 victory in more than a year after winning the Turkish Grand Prix overnight – and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen regained the championship lead after being number two ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez.
Lewis Hamilton-who won on this circuit last year and led the championship by two points in round 16 of the 22-race season- became fifth behind Ferrari’s Charles LeClerc after starting from 11th place due to an engine change.
After an exciting Formula One season in 2021 until now, the Turkish Grand Prix lacked drama from previous rounds – despite humid track conditions for most of the race.
Bottas effectively led from start to finish – blocking pit stops – in what turned out to be a parade, setting the race’s fastest time (1: 30,432) on the final lap of the 5,338km circuit on the outskirts of Istanbul.
The Finnish driver – who moves to the Alfa Romeo F1 team next year – started from pole position, even though he qualified as second fastest, after his Mercedes-AMG team-mate Lewis Hamilton had to relegate 10 places online due to an engine change.
Most drivers delayed their pit stop in the 58-lap race and tried to stay out as long as possible on their original set of “intermediate” wet weather tires if the humid conditions changed.
Former F1 world champion Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel played on a switch to slippery tires as a dry race line seemed to develop – but he came back into the pits after skating around the track for a lap.
After many years of predictability in the Formula 1 championship, Bottas was sixth different driver to greet the checkered flag so far this season.
It was Bottas’ first victory since the Russian Grand Prix last year – and noted his 10th victory in his F1 career.
“It’s been a while, it feels good,” Bottas told the F1 broadcast Fox Sports. “For my part, I must say one of the best races I have ever had. Except for one small slide, everything was under control.
“The car has been really good in all conditions… and I had really good confidence in it. It’s not easy to choose the strategy here … when to stop (make a pit). I’m glad everything went for me once.
“There’s a clothesline, it does not require much that you can get off, so absolutely have to focus the whole race, so a difficult one, and it feels like a well-deserved victory.”
One of the highlights came on lap 35, then Hamilton tried to pass Perez about fourth place, while both struggled with poorly worn tires under slippery conditions.
The pair ran side by side around several corners before retreating into a rhythm where Hamilton failed in his attempt to pass.
Hamilton, the seven-time world champion who got his 100th victory in F1 in the previous round in Russia, considered running the entire race on a set of tires and quarreled with his team over the radio in the final rounds.
But at lap 51, Hamilton was instructed to get into the pits after his grooved intermediate tires were badly worn (pictured below).
After the race, Hamilton told reporters he assumed the tires would have reached the finish line.
“The tires were bald (at the time), so you do not know how far they are going to go, so there is definitely concern about the life of the tire,” Hamilton told the F1 TV station Fox Sports.
“But I, too, was not really that bothered in the end there. I was struggling, had low grip … then suddenly would not have such a bad pace. But I was losing performance to the guys behind.
“In hindsight, I should have either been out or arrived much earlier. When you come in with eight laps to go, you do not have time to go through the grain phase on the medium-sized deck on a dry track, so then I went through this whole sliding phase where I almost lost several positions. ”
A Pirelli tire expert told reporters, after wear and tear on the race tire, “it was really on the border” and “it’s a little dangerous to push the boundaries like today.”
Verstappen, who now leads the F1 drivers’ championship in 2021 (262.5 to 256.5 points) after the top of the scoreboard changed for the fifth time this season, told reporters: “It was not easy today, the track was very greasy, we just had to steer the tires the whole race so we could not really push.
“It just seemed as if Valtteri had a little more pace and could also fit the tires maybe a little better. Of course, I’m still happy to be number two, because under these conditions, it’s so easy to make mistakes. ”
When asked what was the most difficult part of the ride, Verstappen replied “stay awake” in a reference to the uneventful race.
“It was about steering the tires so you never pushed to reach a certain number of laps,” Verstappen said, adding that he was “happy to be on the podium.”
His Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez told the F1 broadcast Fox Sports: “It was a pretty intense race … it was just one of those races about being patient, pushing at the right times, managing your tires well.
“We did not really know what was going on with the tires. They came back, they had to leave. It was quite difficult to steer the tires. ”
Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo and his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris fought all weekend, despite finishing the first and second races two races ago in Monza, Italy – and after Norris almost won the previous round in Sochi, Russia after qualifying the fastest and leading most of the race.
In Turkey, Norris managed to qualify eighth fastest in front of Ricciardo i 16. – his equally worst qualifying result this year.
Norris, however, was only able to make up one spot and finished seventh while Ricciardo finished 13th after starting from the back of the net after an engine change before the race.
Ricciardo told his team over the radio that he was struggling with the rear brakes. It is unclear whether the McLaren team will return to the form it showed over the previous two races – in the last six rounds this season.
Despite an exciting demonstration of defensive driving from Perez under attack from Hamilton, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz won today’s driver – as voted online by race fans – after finishing eighth and starting from the back of the net.
Round 17 of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship is scheduled for October 22-24 in Austin, Texas.
Race results: Round 16, Turkish F1 GP
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing-Honda|
|3||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing-Honda|
|9||Lance Walk||Aston Martin-Mercedes|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault|
|12||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari|
|13||Who||Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari|
|16.||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault|
|18.||Sebastian Vettel||Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari|
Driver Championship in 2021: Round 16, Turkish F1 GP
|1.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing-Honda||262.5|
|5.||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing-Honda||135|
|10.||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||58|
|11.||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||46|
|12.||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin-Mercedes||35|
|13.||Lance Walk||Aston Martin-Mercedes||26|
|17.||Who||Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari||6|
|18.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari||1|
2021 Constructors’ Championship: Round 16, Turkish F1 GP
|2.||Red Bull Racing-Honda||397.5|
|6.||Aston Martin Racing-Mercedes||61|
|9.||Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari||7|
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