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F1 in Turkey: Hamilton slithers to the win; clinches his seventh title

Stroll starts on the pole but Hamilton comes through to win the race and his 7th championship

Istanbul, Turkey, Nov 15/20 (GRW): Here in Turkey, the drivers had to contend with a newly-paved glass-smooth surface complicated by rain during qualifying and the race. Lance Stroll managed to win the pole on Saturday and lead much of the race on Sunday but Lewis Hamilton, running most of the race on a set of intermediate rain tires, emerged as the race winner by a 31-second margin over Stroll’s Racing Point teammate Sergio Perez. This clinched a seventh championship title for Hamilton, tying him with Michael Schumacher for the most ever drivers’ championships.

In this exceptional year, Formula One returned to Turkey after a nine-year hiatus. In response, the organizers chose to lay down a brand-new asphalt track surface which was completed only a few weeks before the race. This produced an oily, glass-smooth surface which the drivers compared to racing on ice. This was further complicated by rain which fell during Saturday’s qualifying session and during the race itself.

The qualifying session was interrupted twice by the red-flag when conditions became impossible. Surprisingly, the Racing Point cars seemed to handle the slippery conditions the best. Stroll took his first ever F1 pole while Perez was third fastest. Max Verstappen, who had been the quickest all weekend up to then, had to settle for second on the grid after a unproductive tire change very late in the final qualifying session. Hamilton was to start from sixth on the grid.

On the start, several cars spun or slid wide letting Stroll and Perez take up positions at the front while Verstappen fell to fourth and Bottas to 18th. Bottas was to have a difficult day and he ended up finishing the race in 14th place, no challenge to Hamilton’s title run.

Amazingly, Sebastian Vettel, who has been struggling all this season and who had lined up in 11th place on the grid, was up into third at the end of the first lap. As the light rain continued everyone pitted early for fresh tires, switching over from full wets to intermediate wets.

When this cycle of pit stops was completed, Stroll regained the lead over Perez, Verstappen, Vettel and Hamilton who had climbed up to fifth place.

On lap 18 of the 58-lap race, Verstappen made a charge to get past Perez but he spun and dropped back a little. Then he came into the pits and took on another new set of intermediates, dropping to eighth and letting Alex Albon, Vettel and Hamilton each advance one position.

This race order at the front continued through until lap 33, when a number of drivers pitted for more tires, still opting for the intermediates given that more rain was expected soon.

PHOTO TURKEY HAMILTONHamilton raises the spray on a wet track on his way to the race win (Daimler AG)

Hamilton was an exception to this pattern, staying out on the intermediates he had had since lap 8. Now, with the others pitting, he cycled up into the lead. Stroll who had looked like being in command or, at least, scoring a high-placed finish, was now in trouble. This latest set of intermediates started graining in a way that gave him no grip on the damp surface and he started falling back in the field.

In the remaining 17 laps, Hamilton kept going without pitting for a third set of tires. It had become apparent that these intermediates were wearing away almost all of their tread pattern becoming, in effect, slicks – and that in this configuration they were still working for Hamilton.

Late in the race, Hamilton was called into the pits for new tires but, using his champion’s prerogative, he ignored that command and he kept on racing on the now-bald tires. This plan worked and he was able to hang onto the lead until the checker, finishing 31 seconds ahead of second-place Perez. On the final lap, Charles Leclerc got past Perez momentarily and then he slid wide letting his teammate Vettel through into third, leaving him to finish in fourth. Carlos Sainz was fifth and Verstappen was sixth while his teammate Albon was seventh. This was Vettel’s best finish of the season - and it Perez’ second-place finish had to be a big boost for his job search now that he has been displaced from the Racing Point team as of next year. Stroll had to settle for a ninth-place finish after his amazing run at the front earlier in the race.

After the race, Hamilton commented on wining his seventh championship title, “I know often we, or I say, it's beyond my wildest dreams, but I think my whole life I secretly have dreamt as high as this. But it always felt so farfetched. I remember Michael winning those championships, and all of us drivers here are doing the best job we can, and just to get one, two or three is so hard to get. So, to get seven, is just unimaginable. But when you work with such a great group of people, and you communicate, and trust one another and listen to one another, there is just no end to what we can do together, this team and I together. And I'm so proud of what we've done.”

This was a race in which the sequence of pit stops and tire compound changes played a big role. I have included links below, in addition to the usual results/points page, to the lap chart, the pit stop history and the tire usage history which can help you work out more details of the way the race spelled out.

• Click HERE for the race results + the current points standings
• Click HERE for the lap chart of the race
• Click HERE for the Pit Stop Summary
• Click HERE for the Tire Usage History

• Three more Grands Prix remain in the 2020 season. The next race is the first of a pair of races at Bahrain; it will be held on November 29. The second one at Bahrain, a week later on December 6. The current F1 stance on human rights must make visiting this country with its history of human rights abuses somewhat contradictory?


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