Valtteri Bottas secured the 10th GP victory of his career on the damp Istanbul circuit. Max Verstappen finished second and thus regained the lead in the World Championship standings.
The hopes of many pilots for a dry track on race Sunday in Istanbul were not fulfilled, the GP stars had to complete their driver parade in the drizzle and at almost 16 degrees Celsius, after which they lined up on the starting grid. The front row was occupied by Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, behind them Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly lurked for their chance. Fernando Alonso, Sergio Pérez, Lando Norris, Lance Stroll, Yuki Tsunoda and Sebastian Vettel followed on the other positions.
The fastest in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton, had to start from 11th position because he started the 16th race of the season with a fresh internal combustion engine. There were also engine penalties for Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo, who shared the back row of the grid. Mick Schumacher tackled the GP in Turkey from position 14.
All the drivers drove off on the intermediates, and GP veteran Jenson Button said on Sky Sports F1: “The tires could be a problem because they degrade very quickly.” Initially, however, the GP drivers concentrated entirely on surviving the first lap of the race unscathed. Pole setter Bottas also managed to do this and took the lead ahead of Verstappen and Leclerc. Pérez, Gasly, Norris, Stroll, Tsunoda, Vettel and Hamilton followed in the other top 10 positions.
Alonso, who spun in the first corner, fell back to 17th place and was annoyed with Gasly, who triggered the spin with a nudge against Alonso’s left rear wheel. “I got trapped,” radioed the Frenchman. Nicholas Latifi was also not very lucky, he took a trip off the piste in the ninth corner and fell back to the end of the field. Hamilton quickly grabbed Vettel and also attacked Tsunoda, but the rookie was able to fend off the first attack.
Schumacher was next to spin, the Haas rookie doing so on corner four after running into Alonso. Meanwhile, the race management announced that they would investigate the scene at the start between Gasly and Alonso and also the unpleasant meeting between Schumacher and Alonso. Further back, Sainz overtook George Russell and was in 14th position, while Hamilton was stuck behind the Japanese in the AlphaTauri on lap 6.
Penalties for Gasly and Alonso
Things went much better for Sainz, who snatched old master Kimi Räikkönen and was now hunting his Alfa Romeo team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi. On the eighth lap of the race, the seven-time world champion finally made it past the newcomer to the GP by overtaking him on the outside at turn 4. Gasly was also allowed to be angry because he received a 5-second time penalty for touching Alonso. The two-time world champion from the Alpine team also suffered this fate for the collision with Schumacher.
In the tenth lap, Leader Bottas reported via radio that there was still no sign of a dry track, although it was no longer drizzling. That didn’t stop Hamilton from pulling past Norris on Turn 12. The young Briton did not fight too hard against the Mercedes driver, who was now chasing after Gasly and turning one fastest race lap after the other.
On lap 13, Sainz pushed past Vettel, with a brief contact between the two runners. The rulers looked at this scene too, but came to the conclusion that no investigation was necessary.
Two laps later, Hamilton made it past Gasly on the straight, while Verstappen spared his tires in second position and received praise for it. On lap 18, Sainz overtook Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri and secured ninth position.
Ricciardo was the first to pick up fresh tires of the intermediate compound on lap 22, which caused him to drop to position 18. Tsunoda also had to put up with a loss of position as he spun in Turn 9.
Strong duel between Hamilton and Perez
At halftime, the order was Bottas before Verstappen, Leclerc, Pérez, Hamilton, Gasly, Norris, Stroll, Sainz, Vettel, Ocon, Giovinazzi, Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Russell, Alonso, Latifi, Ricciardo, Mazepin and Schumacher, who had already been lapped . Mazepin was also soon overtaken and when it was Hamilton’s turn to overtake the Russian, to the horror of the British observers, the Russian took some time before he deviated from the ideal line.
It was only on lap 31 that the next pilot, Alonso, turned into the pits because the Asturian had to serve his sentence, the stop lasted a full 8.8 seconds, dropping him to 18th place. Two laps later, Sainz radioed that the rain was getting heavier, and after another two laps, Hamilton and Pérez fought a remarkable duel in which the Mexican kept a cool head and defended fourth position, although the Mercedes star took him into the pit lane. Driveway crowded.
On lap 36, Verstappen got fresh tires and several drivers did the same. Vettel got the media, tires and then had a lot of trouble to stay on the slopes. “It doesn’t work,” he radioed shortly afterwards as one opponent after another passed him.
Bottas also reacted to the opponent’s stop and picked up fresh tires from the intermediate mixture, with Leclerc leading the race. Hamilton was behind Verstappen, because Pérez also picked up fresh tires. Vettel corrected the wrong decision and had a moment of shock in the pit entrance, during which he did not land in the wall with luck. The four-time champion fell back to 19th position.
Gasly and Stroll got fresh tires on lap 39 and Hamilton was called to the pits by the team on lap 42, but the seven-time champion did not want to give up his position. Meanwhile, Verstappen complained about the steering, while Leclerc braked in the twelfth corner. The Monegasse tried to get through without stopping and had twelve laps before the checkered flag fell on Botta’s neck.
Sainz grabbed 8th place further back from Ocon and Bottas fought his way past Leclerc on lap 47, who shortly afterwards still got fresh tires and was then fourth. After 50 laps on the same set of tires, Hamilton also picked up fresh tires and dropped back to fifth place. For Pérez it went in the other direction, on lap 52 he took third place from Leclerc, whose rear was visibly slipping. Thus, Hamilton quickly caught up with the Ferrari.
In the end, Bottas was able to celebrate his tenth GP victory, Verstappen secured second place and Pérez completed the podium. Leclerc, Hamilton, Gasly, Norris, Sainz, Stroll and Ocon followed in the other places, Vettel was eighteenth, Schumacher was right behind.