In 2020, Valtteri Bottas was a laughingstock for riding six times on treacherous wet asphalt during the Turkish GP. Almost a year later, this Sunday (10), the Finn made a comeback in Istanbul and, with rain and all, made an impeccable race and won his first victory in the 2021 season of Formula 1. Since the start, Valtteri occupied the leadership and only lost it during the tire change period. As a bonus, the driver of the #77 Mercedes car still scored the best lap of the race. In this way, Bottas reached the tenth victory of his career in F1.
In terms of the title fight, however, Max Verstappen was the big winner of the day in Turkey. The Dutchman started in second, did not compromise and, although at no time he was a competitor for victory, he conquered a very important second position. Sergio Pérez took third place and thus scored his third podium with Red Bull in 2021.
Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, had to settle for fifth place in the race. The seven-times champion tried everything to gain positions after starting 11th: he made great overtaking, had a notable duel with Pérez, was closed by Nikita Mazepin and even considered a non-stop strategy to change tyres. But the stop was inevitable due to the wear of the intermediate compounds. The seven-times champion finished right behind Charles Leclerc, who even took the lead with Ferrari when he risked going on track without changing tyres, but also had to go to the pit-stop.
Pierre Gasly hit Fernando Alonso in the first corner and on the first lap, was punished in 5s, but made a very safe race to finish in sixth place and complete a positive weekend with AlphaTauri. Lando Norris, this time, stayed away from the top positions and was seventh with McLaren, ahead of Carlos Sainz, who started at P19, was hampered by a Ferrari failure in the pit-stop and still took eighth place. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon closed the top ten.
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Find out how the Formula 1 GP of Turkey was
With a very wet track, but no rain, all 20 drivers lined up for the grid on intermediate tyres. Valtteri Bottas took pole position and had Max Verstappen by his side in second. Lewis Hamilton was in the middle of the melee, in 11th place, while Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo stood side by side in the back row.
Bottas made a great start and stayed well ahead of Verstappen, while Charles Leclerc held third. Sergio Pérez gained two positions and left Pierre Gasly behind and Fernando Alonso, who was touched by the Frenchman, dropped to 15th and fired: “That’s stupid, Gasly”. Hamilton escaped any problems in the middle of the pack and finished the first lap in eighth.
Alonso even played at Mick Schumacher’s Haas. The German was 19th, behind Nikita Mazepin and ahead of Nicholas Latifi, who lapped at the start of the race.
Hamilton had Yuki Tsunoda ahead to try to gain ground and advance in the race. The Japanese played tough, but Lewis, with a maneuver worthy of a seven-time world champion, put the car out of the way, overtaken and moved up to eighth. Shortly after, the race direction announced the punishments due to the incidents in the first lap: Gasly and Alonso were punished in 5s.
In great form, Hamilton continued to push his way past Lando Norris with ease and into Gasly. Another driver with excellent pace was Carlos Sainz, who started 19th, climbed many positions and was already tenth after passing Sebastian Vettel on lap 14. Ricciardo, who started last, was in 16th, just behind George Russell.
On lap 15 Hamilton easily passed Gasly and moved up to fifth. The seven-times champion’s fight was now Sergio Pérez, who had the mission of holding the Mercedes driver to help Verstappen.
Sainz pushed his way through and left one more behind, Tsunoda, and rose to ninth. Hamilton, a little further ahead, complained about the wear of the tires, but still had a very strong pace: the driver managed to do the fastest lap of the race again and finally arrived at Pérez.
Ricciardo, who was already at the end of the line, was called by McLaren to the pits to put on a new set of intermediate tires. The pilot returned in P18, but at a much slower pace with the new compounds, while Tsunoda escaped in turn 9, also due to the worn tyres.
Faced with the rain that reappeared, the pilots were in doubt about which strategy to follow. Sainz, in ninth place, pointed to only one stop along the way.
With 30 laps completed, Bottas was doing an excellent race and had almost 4s ahead of Verstappen. At that point, Leclerc was the one with the fastest lap. The Monegasque was third, followed by Pérez, who in turn had less than 1s ahead of Hamilton. The seven-times champion was closed by the latecomer Mazepin just as the Russian took a turn.
The race still had good disputes with Lance Stroll and Sainz, for ninth place, and Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon, for tenth. At that moment, Alonso entered the pit-lane to take the punishment and make his pit-stop.
The big moment of the race happened between laps 34 and 35. Hamilton finally arrived in Pérez and put his car side by side to make the overtaking. The two barely touched each other. The Mexican was brave and fought loyally for the position and kept ahead.
Verstappen pitted to change tires on lap 37, moving on to a new stint with intermediate tyres. The Dutchman returned just ahead of ‘Czech’ and Hamilton in third. Another who made his pit-stop was Sainz. That’s when Ferrari brought down the Spaniard’s race after tire-changing problems.
Faced with a track that was dry in some stretches, Vettel took a risk and put on medium tyres, slicks. The strategy didn’t work, and the car proved to be completely unyielding in those conditions. Seb had to return to the pits for another exchange, this time returning to the intermediates.
After Bottas and Pérez’s tire changes, the order of the race was Leclerc in first, Valtteri in second, Verstappen in third, Hamilton in fourth and ‘Czech’ in fifth. Leclerc asked Ferrari if it was possible to continue on the track without changing tires and received a positive response. Mercedes, on the other hand, was not very excited about the possibility, but Hamilton decided to take the risk and go all the way without a pit-stop.
Leclerc took the risk but couldn’t hold onto the lead for long as Bottas had much more pace on new intermediate tyres. The Finn made the overtaking at turn 1, during lap 47, and took up the lead again. The Ferrari driver then went to the pits to put on new intermediate tyres.
But Hamilton resisted on the track and remained without pit-stops, facing the final laps of the race even with very worn tires. The order of the race was formed by Bottas, Verstappen and, very close to the Dutchman, Lewis. But Mercedes decided not to take any more risks, and the seven-time champion answered the call to make, finally, the pit-stop. The owner of car #44 came back in fifth, behind Leclerc and Pérez.
The Ferrari driver returned to the track at a much slower pace than Pérez’s. The Mexican managed to overtake on lap 51 and took third position in one of his best races of the season. Hamilton also approached the Monegasque but failed to gain the position.
After 58 laps, Bottas finally had the chance to celebrate his first victory of the season. With an impeccable journey, the Finn set the best lap and triumphed with praise at the Turkish GP.
F1 2021, Turkish GP, Istanbul, Final Result:
|1||V BOOTS||Mercedes||58 laps|
|two||M VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull Honda||+14,584|
|3||S PEREZ||Red Bull Honda||+33,471|
|6||P GASLY||AlphaTauri Honda||+44,292|
|9||L STROLL||Aston Martin Mercedes||+1:22.018|
|10||AND OCON||alpine||+1 back|
|11||THE GIOVINAZZI||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||+ 1 lap|
|12||K RÄIKKÖNEN||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||+ 1 lap|
|13||D RICCIARDO||McLaren Mercedes||+ 1 lap|
|14||Y TSUNODA||AlphaTauri Honda||+ 1 lap|
|15||G RUSSELL||Williams Mercedes||+ 1 lap|
|16||F ALONSO||alpine||+ 1 lap|
|17||NO LATIFI||Williams Mercedes||+ 1 lap|
|18||S VETTEL||Aston Martin Mercedes||+ 1 lap|
|19||M SCHUMACHER||Haas Ferrari||+ 2 laps|
|20||N MAZEPIN||Haas Ferrari||+ 2 laps|
|VMR||V BOOTS||Mercedes||1:30,432||turn 58|