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F1 at Istanbul: Bottas wins; Verstappen regains points lead

Istanbul, Turkey, Oct 10/21 (GRW): Lewis Hamilton had qualified fastest for this race but he had to start in tenth place due to an over-limit engine change. With the Mercedes the fastest cars on the track, this set up Valtteri Bottas to handily win the race over Max Verstappen (by a 15-second margin) and his teammate Sergio Perez.

After some to-and-fro between Hamilton and his team, he pitted very late for his second set of intermediates and this dropped him to fifth and he could never recover, finishing behind Charles Leclerc.

With light rain making the track slick, everyone started the race on intermediate tires and, while only Esteban Ocon ran the whole distance on one set of tires, no one even thought of trying to switch over to slicks when the track continued to be wet to the end.

If there was a mistake in tire strategy, it was by Hamilton and his team. In retrospect it looks like he should have come in for his second set of tires when most of the others did mid-race and then he would have had time to try to use his superior speed to catch up and fight for a third-place – or even second-place – finish.

As it was, the Mercedes team were looking at Hamilton going the full distance on the original tires. Finally – long after most of the others had pitted – his team called him in. Hamilton said no and he stayed out. But by then it was obvious that he was losing ground to those ahead he wold only fall back more if he tried to stay on that first set of tires. He came in for his second set – but by now it was too late for him to gain the benefit of the new tires – which needed to go through a ‘graining’ phase until they wore down to a more of a slick pattern. He was unable to close on those ahead and he had to settle (grumpily) for fifth – and to falling six points behind Verstappen in the driver’s championship.

Verstappen said, “As a team, to finish second and third here was a great result. It was a pretty straight forward race today and I think in general we had a decent day. The race was all about managing tires, to make sure they lasted to the end, which means it wasn’t the most fun race to drive as you always want to push hard. Nevertheless, I think we maximized the result today and it’s good to be leading the Drivers’ Championship again. I do wish I had a bit more pace in the car, but we are still in the fight – we’ll keep pushing and we’ll see in the coming races how competitive we will be.”

Hamilton’s comments (after he cooled down), “Today was frustrating but it is what it is - it felt good to be in third and I thought if I could just hold on it would be a great result from 11th. Strategy calls in conditions like today can be so tough. I'm naturally a risk-taker and being third, I was aiming to miss the stop when everyone pitted for new Inters, hopeful that I could get the opportunity to switch to slicks later and gain some good positions. Then the team made the call to come in and you have to rely on your team, accept the choices they make and hope it's the right one - as I always say, we win as a team and we lose as a team. Overall, the car was great this weekend and Valtteri did a great job today. If we can continue to perform like that over the next few races, we'll be in a good position come the end of the season.”

As for the Canadian drivers, Lance Stroll finished in ninth place (in the points) while Nicolas Latifi was 17th, a lap down.

So Verstappen leaves Turkey wit a six-point lead in the championship points standings over Hamilton. There are six more F1 races in the 2021 season, so the race for the championship is far from over.

• Click HERE for the Race Results
• Click HERE for the Points Standings


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