Lewis Hamilton finishes fifth and passes the first place in the championship to the Dutchman
The leadership of Formula 1 in the 2021 season, he changed hands again this Sunday, 10. Lewis Hamilton gave way again to Max Verstappen, who raced efficiently and cautiously at the Turkish GP to finish second on the wet Istanbul track. The victory was for the finnish Valtteri Bottas, while Hamilton, his partner of Mercedes, was the fifth place. Bottas capped his great weekend with a victory that ended more than a year’s fast in F-1. He hasn’t climbed the highest place on the podium since the end of September 2020, when he won the Russian GP. In Istanbul, he started in pole position, took the 10th victory of his career and also recorded the best lap of the race. The riders will return to the track in two weeks for the GP of the United States, on the 24th, at the Circuit of the Americas, in the city of Austin.
The Turkish GP was also positive for the Red Bull. And not just for the one-two between Verstappen and Sergio Pérez, who finished third. The Dutchman regained the lead in the championship, now with 262.5 points, against Hamilton’s 256.5, who is back in second place overall. The race caused different emotions for the Englishman. While he was able to celebrate the good reaction in the race, having started from 11th place (punishment for having changed components of his engine), he regretted not having finished in third place. The seven-time world champion lost two positions in the final stretch of the race when making a tire change that might not have been necessary. If I had finished 3rd, I would have been just one point behind Verstappen in the overall standings.
With a wet track, strong wind and light rain, the start had fewer incidents than expected. Bottas left without hesitation, followed by Verstappen and Leclerc. Right behind, Gasly turned into a “sandwich” between Pérez and Alonso, who got the worst of it. It was touched and stopped in the back platoon. All attention, however, was on Hamilton. The championship leader started only in 11th, despite having obtained the best time in qualifying practice, having suffered punishment when changing engine components on his Mercedes. Suffering from the “spray”, the Englishman easily gained two positions. But he lost more time than he expected behind Tsunoda.
After overtaking the Japanese on lap 8, he began his search for the top positions. The ascent was successful until it stopped in Pérez. On lap 35, the two had the best duel of the race. The English came to pass the rival, but the Mexican regained fourth position. With all riders running on intermediate tyres, there was little scope for change in a cautious race for almost all riders. The only one to risk it was Sebastian Vettel, who put on slick tires and ended up becoming the “guinea pig” of the race. Without achieving any stability on the track, the German even struggled to return to the pits, with the right to a skid at the entrance, to retake the intermediates.
Vettel showed everyone that the time was to go with the specific tires for wet asphalt. On the 37th turn, Verstappen pulled the replacement line. Bottas and Pérez did the same: they put in new intermediate tires. Leclerc became leader and Hamilton finally took fourth place. Bottas was second, followed by Verstappen and the Englishman. From the 40th lap onwards, the race boiled down to a big question: would Leclerc and Hamilton make the risky decision to continue with the same tires until the final banner? As Ferrari and Mercedes bosses assessed the situation, the track dried out, leaving room for slick compounds.
The suspense lasted a few laps. Leclerc went to the pits to put new intermediates on lap 47, soon after being passed by Bottas, leading the race once again. Then, on the 51st spin, it was Hamilton’s turn to surrender to new intermediate compounds. He came back in fifth place, behind Pérez, who soon overtook Leclerc. By radio, the seven-time world champion showed dissatisfaction with the team for the exchange. In his assessment, he could have held out on the track until the end, finishing in third place. It would thus be just one point behind Verstappen in the championship.
*With State Agency