Lewis Hamilton won the first Grand Prix in Turkey since 2011 to put the championship out of reach of teammate Valtteri Bottas and take him up to seven World Championships, equalling Michael Schumacher’s record, previously thought unbeatable.
A chaotic race saw changing weather conditions, drivers skidding off in all directions, surprise results and unpredictability. The podium was completed by Sergio Perez for Racing Point, taking his first top three of the year and Sebastian Vettel, who claimed his first podium of the season in a forgettable final season driving for Ferrari.
Lance Stroll started the race from pole in his Racing Point, following a terrific performance in qualifying, mastering the tricky conditions. The two Racing Points soon disappeared at the start of the race, with Stroll leading Perez. Behind them, the two Red Bull’s got bogged down off the line and lost places, with Lewis Hamilton getting a decent start to jump up to third, albeit temporarily. Esteban Ocon got tagged by teammate Daniel Ricciardo, with his Renault spinning round. Valtteri Bottas had nowhere to go and avoided colliding with Ocon by having a spin of his own. Verstappen was soon hunting down the two Racing Points with Lewis Hamilton and the Ferrari of Vettel, who got a great start to jump up into third.
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The weather conditions were initially proving tricky for plenty of drivers, with numerous spins up and down the order, with several just for Bottas, who had a weekend to forget in his Mercedes. Both Williams cars started on the Intermediate tyres from the pitlane, and it wasn’t too long before other teams and drivers started to think the same, with a dry line soon appearing on the track. It was still perilous and slippery, as a number of drivers found out. Grosjean spun off into retirement further into the race, and Latifi, who had a weekend to forget for Williams, was eventually retired after running last, two laps down, following a spin and a further incident with Grosjean.
Max Verstappen tried a bold move on Sergio Perez, before running wide and losing the back end of his Red Bull. He did well to keep it out of the barriers, but badly flat-spotted his tyres, and all but ended his chances of victory. He had another spin later on in the race, spinning in tandem with Kimi Raikkonen, who was being lapped by the two Red Bull cars.
As the chequered flag fell, Hamilton crossed the line to seal another victory and championship, with Perez second for Racing Point. Sebastian Vettel took a fine third place after he passed his teammate Charles LeClerc with only two corners to go. LeClerc held on for fourth place, just ahead of Carlos Sainz in the McLaren after a solid drive from the Spaniard. Max Verstappen was disappointed to finish in 6th, after a good recovery drive, but he didn’t help his cause with a couple of errors which dropped him further back. Teammate Alex Albon finished 7th in the second Red Bull, ahead of Lando Norris in his McLaren. Pole sitter Lance Stroll finished down in 9th after a bad strategy from both himself and the team. He was told that people were pitting for new intermediate tyres, and when he questioned why that was, the team opted to leave him out on his existing set, which ultimately proved to be their downfall. What could have been for the Racing Point and the young Canadian… the final point was taken by Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault.
Bemoaning Bottas…Yet Again!
Here it is - the regular section. Bottas needed a big performance this weekend. His already slim title chances would be kept alive if he outscored Lewis Hamilton by 8 points. It started poorly, as lots of teams and drivers got caught out in the tricky qualifying conditions on Saturday. He ended up starting the race from 9th place, only 3 places behind his teammate.
His race was all but over by the first corner. As Esteban Ocon spun following contact with teammate Daniel Ricciardo, Bottas had no choice but to spin the Mercedes to avoid hitting Ocon’s Renault. This put him to the very back of the grid, and he never looked like recovering. While Hamilton worked his way up the grid and squeezed every drop of performance out of his Mercedes, Bottas never looked like troubling the top 10, and his race was interrupted several times by self-made errors and spins. Every time a yellow flag appeared, it seemed that more often than not it was because Bottas had lost the car again. He switched to fresher tyres sooner, but that option didn’t help him, and he ended up being lapped by his teammate in what was the most crushing defeat for Bottas.
He said before this season started that he had a plan to beat Lewis this year, and I’m still waiting to find out what it was. He had been defeated by Hamilton for the past 3 seasons, and he needed to prove he is worthy of fighting for a championship. With three races to go in what has been the most unusual F1 season in memory, Hamilton currently had 307 points, compared to Bottas’ 197. Lewis has 10 race victories, Bottas has two.
His season seemed to unravel after the British Grand Prix, and he has never really looked like recovering. Time and time again Lewis has left him trailing and far off the pace of his teammate. It’s not been all bad for Valtteri, there have been some good performances, but if he wants to prove he can fight for a championship, he needs to show some hunger.
There is still time this season for Bottas to put in some good performances, but that’s only to make sure he keeps second in the championship. 2021 needs to be big for him. I feel that I said that at the start of this season, and probably in 2019 too, but if he ever wants to win a title, he needs to get into gear sooner rather than later and find some of that killer instinct and hunger that he is missing. You can’t win a title by just backing down and hoping that you’ll get your rivals at the next race. That is the kind of mentality he seems to have.
He’ll need to stock up on his porridge over the winter.
Sebastian Back On The Podium
October 2019, Mexican Grand Prix. That was the last time we saw 4 times World Champion Sebastian Vettel stand on an F1 podium. Thankfully, and to popular reception, Vettel took third place today. It was almost only fourth, but when Charles LeClerc made a mistake infant, Vettel leapt and took his 121st podium.
This was a Sebastian I hadn’t seen for a long time. This season has been a disaster for him and the team, and his recent seasons have been marred with errors and issues. But today, he was a different driver. A typically disappointing qualifying was soon forgotten about as he found himself running third when the race started. He had fantastic battles with his teammate, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. He proved he hasn’t lost any of his race craft or hunger, and it was so good to see. I wasn’t a fan of Vettel in his Red Bull days, but over recent years I have really come to like the guy and I hope he gets the chance to fight for another championship before his time in F1 comes to a close.
He had only scored 2 points in the last 7 races coming to Turkey in what has been a season to forget for Ferrari. It is also his last season for the Italian giants, and this will probably be the last time we see one of the most successful drivers of recent years stand on the podium in Ferrari colours. I really hope not, but I am just so happy to see him back up there and smiling. Enjoy it, Seb!
It’s also worth mentioning that he was the first person to go up to Lewis to congratulate him on his title victory. The two drivers have been fierce rivals in past seasons, with clashes on track as well as off it. But that was lovely to see from Sebastian, who is nothing short of a true sportsman and a gentleman.
Another Hamilton Masterclass And Another Record Equalled!
It was only a matter of time, but Lewis Hamilton has finally equalled Michael Schumacher’s 7 world championships. An astonishing achievement, regardless of whether you are a fan of him or not.
It was a calm and collected drive from him today too. While others (including his teammate) were sliding and spinning over the track, he kept his car facing the right way all race with only a couple of errors. His tyres were absolutely destroyed come to the race end, and it was a wonder just how he kept the car facing the way it should be. He pulled off a few goods overtake on his way, and apart from a brief complaint at the start of the race about his brakes not working properly, he did what he needed to do.
As you know, I’m not a Hamilton fan. I never have been, but it’s hard not to admire his achievements. Yes, the Mercedes has been the best car since 2014, but he gets so much more out of that car than his teammates and managed to win races in cars that really had no place on the top step (remember that awful 2009 McLaren?). I never thought I would see anyone match Schumacher’s 7 titles, but Lewis has exceeded everyone's expectations and is well on his way to being the most successful driver of all time.
So much was expected of him when he entered the sport as a fresh-faced young man back in 2007, but who thought he would achieve what he has? Seeing off challenges from double champion Fernando Alonso in his debut season, winning the title in only his second year, a move to Mercedes in 2013 that had a lot of people scratching their heads at first, and now total F1 domination.
Fair play to the man. He has raced harder than anyone, kept his head down, made minimal mistakes and succeeded. I get the feeling he isn’t done yet, either.
How Is The Championship Looking?
With three races to go, it’s sealed. Hamilton currently has 397 points, with Bottas far behind on 197. Verstappen has closed the gap again with 170 points and will be wanting to take second from Bottas. Sergio Perez is fourth on 100 points, with LeClerc fifth on 97.
Mercedes are now on 504 in the constructors, with Red Bull a distant second on 240. Racing Point had a successful weekend which helped their chances of finishing third as they now have 154, with McLaren on 149 in fourth. Renault are currently fifth with 136, but thanks to a decent weekend for Ferrari, they are not far behind the French team as they now have 130. Williams remains the only team to score, and with only three races left, they are running out of time.
Where Are We Heading Next?
Bahrain on the 16th-29th November. It’s the first of two races in Bahrain, with the other being dubbed the Sakhir Grand Prix. There have been some decent races in Bahrain over the years since we first went there in 2004, so hopefully we can have a good fight for the podium, and maybe Bottas can get some redemption!
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