Valterri Bottas wins Turkish Grand Prix
Bottas takes his first win of the season in a drying Turkish Grand Prix with both Red Bulls scoring a podium.
After Mercedes decided to fit Lewis Hamilton’s engine with a new internal combustion engine and faced a 10-place grid penalty, Valterri Bottas inherited pole position and started first on the grid with Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso behind. Given the wet conditions, all drivers started with the intermediate compound of tire.
Other than an entanglement between Alonso and Pierre Gasly at the first corner, the start and opening laps of the race had no significant incidents. The leaders up front were able to quickly take the lead and because they did not need to take a pit stop for new tires due to the weather conditions, they were able to maintain the lead for a significant amount of time.
Hamilton, who was coming forward from 10th place, battled his way through the field, finding the most trouble passing Yuki Tsunoda of Alpha Tauri and Sergio Perez of Red Bull. While other racers eventually passed both drivers, Tsunoda and Perez both made a valiant effort to try and hold him up. Once Hamilton moved towards the top five, the race leaders began to pit for new tires. Hamilton's team suggested he follow the leaders and pit for new tires as well, to which he vocally disagreed. Eventually, Hamilton agreed to come into the pits but finished in fifth place when he was third with seven laps to go. Clearly, there was some kind of miscommunication between Hamilton and his team which he responded to with frustration over the radio.
Ferrari had a fairly strong race, with Carlos Sainz managing to get to eighth place after starting from the back of the grid with an engine penalty. Leclerc was at some points leading the race, and seemed to be on track to finish on the podium, but after a poor call into the pits, his chances of scoring his second podium of the season went down the drain like the rain did during the race.
Red Bull did well to capture two podium finishes for the team despite coming into the weekend with a subpar package. The strategists used Perez effectively to hold up Hamilton for as long as possible and give Verstappen an opportunity to get ahead. While the team did not have the most exciting race, they made the best out of the situation and came away with a result that should be very helpful in their fight for the Constructors’ and Drivers’ championships.
The engine penalty incurred for Hamilton meant that should nothing significant happen over the next races, neither Hamilton nor Verstappen have to take an engine penalty. Moreover, Mercedes was able to maintain their lead in the Constructors’ Championship over Red Bull, where Mercedes seemed to have a fairly strong grip on Red Bull. Nonetheless, the Drivers’ Championship battle between Verstappen and Hamilton has taken another turn with yet another change in the lead.
This season being the last year of the current regulations means that we are in for a big change in the competitive order of the sport. Because of this, it may be the first and last time that Hamilton and Verstappen, widely considered the two most talented drivers in the sport right now, face off against one another in equal machinery. If Hamilton is able to win the championship this year, he would win his eighth championship, beating the record for the most Drivers’ Championships in history. Meanwhile, Verstappen winning the championship would be not only his first championship but the first non-Mercedes driver to win the championship since 2013.
Ending one of the least competitive periods of Formula 1 with what is already a close fight for the championship is certainly a welcome surprise for fans who previously would consider any race that Mercedes didn’t win to be a “good race.”