Bottas wins, Hamilton frustrated in Turkey
By Mat Coch
Monday 11th October, 2021 - 12:36am
Valtteri Bottas has won a wet Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix in a race that saw the championship lead again change hands.
Bottas headed Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez to the flag, while Lewis Hamilton could do no better than fifth after a late pit stop.
Wet conditions persisted throughout the race, through did dry slightly as teams grappled with when to stop their drivers.
With a pace advantage, Bottas enjoyed a straight forward race while Hamilton was left frustrated as he ceded two places in the final laps with his stop.
Bottas led into the opening turn while Fernando Alonso found himself pitched into a spin by Pierre Gasly, dropping to 17th while Max Verstappen slotted into second ahead of Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.
Hamilton gained just a single place at the start, moving up courtesy of the pirouetting Alpine at the first corner, but made another spot by passing Sebastian Vettel at Turn 12 as he concluded Lap 1.
Mick Schumacher’s strong starting place came to naught when he had a spin at Turn 4 on the second lap, falling to 19th.
The German was tagged by the recovering Alonso, pitching him around in an incident officials confirmed they would investigate.
Hamilton had looked to send it around the outside of Yuki Tsunoda at that corner, though wasn’t able to complete the move as the Mercedes harried the AlphaTauri driver’s gearbox, unable to find a way through.
From the back of the grid, Sainz made swift progress in the early laps, picking off George Russell and Kimi Raikkonen on successive laps as he found himself 13th on Lap 7.
Hamilton made the move on Tsunoda on Lap 8, rounding the Japanese driver on the outside of Turn 3, giving him the inside line to Turn 4.
Having looked at the exchange at the opening corner, Gasly was handed a five-second penalty for his part in turning Alonso around.
The Spaniard also picked up the same penalty for clouting Schumacher on Lap 2.
At the end of Lap 10, Hamilton slipped up the inside of Lando Norris to claim sixth under braking into Turn 12.
The championship leader then went on a charge, setting the fastest lap on three successive laps, his pace some 0.5s faster than anyone else on track.
Sainz moved into the points paying places when he barged his way through on Vettel at Turn 12.
Sending it deep under brakes, the Ferrari driver touched the kerb on the apex, which pushed him into the Aston Martin as they completed Lap 13.
At the same corner a lap later, Hamilton rose to fifth as he sailed by Gasly who was powerless to defend against the Mercedes.
After 14 laps, Verstappen started to stem the flow to Bottas, the Finn having extended a 3.3s advantage in the opening laps.
The Red Bull driver set a new fastest lap on Lap 16, the race leader lifting his own pace but still ceding ground.
Sainz’s progress continued, despatching Tsunoda at Turn 12 on Lap 17 to claim ninth.
After 20 laps, the margin out front had reduced to 2.6s, limiting the time lost to the chasing Red Bull.
Daniel Ricciardo was the first to pit, the McLaren driver swapping onto a fresh set of intermediate tyres on Lap 24.
Alonso stopped after 31 laps, another set of intermediates going onto the Alpine after serving the five-second hold from his Lap 2 moment with Schumacher.
Hamilton and Perez went wheel-to-wheel as they completed Lap 34, rounding the final complex side-by-side, the battle continuing into the next lap.
The Mercedes driver looked to pass at Turn 12, the Red Bull holding the inside line before being pushed wide at the penultimate corner.
Perez had to dart through the pit entry road, maintaining his position alongside Hamilton before losing out in the drag race out of the final turn.
Into Turn 1, Perez then hold his nerve to maintain the place after a nail-biting exchange that lasted four corners.
On Lap 36, Red Bull serviced Verstappen, a fresh set of inters fitted in a well-executed stop.
It came as many elected to swap tyres, Sebastian Vettel bravely switching to a set of medium compound rubber, a decision that proved foolhardy as he struggled for grip.
Perez pitted on Lap 37 while Hamilton remained on track, taking the place from the Red Bull as a result.
Bottas pitted next time through, Vettel also touring back to the lane to swap back onto inters as he slipped to 19th – the German almost crashing as he entered the pits.
In the lead, Leclerc questioned whether he could run to the flag, 18 laps, to which his team responded positively.
The Ferrari driver enjoyed a 5.6s lead though Bottas in second was faster on his fresh tyres.
Hamilton was told to box on Lap 42, the Brit arguing the call and remained on track.
With 15 laps remaining, Leclerc’s lead had shrunk to three seconds at a time when Hamilton suggested conditions were not far from slicks.
The Ferrari driver was haemorrhaging time, dropping a second a lap to Bottas as the gap dwindled.
On Lap 48, the Monegasque ceded top spot as they accelerated out of the final corner, powerless to hold on to the position despite his efforts with his 46-lap old tyres.
Next time by, the Ferrari driver took service, dropping to fourth, just ahead of Perez.
After 51 laps, Hamilton finally stopped to swap his bald inters for a fresh set, dropping behind Perez into fifth.
Perez moved up to third on Lap 51, passing Leclerc under brakes at Turn 12 as the Ferrari driver suffered with overheated tyres.
Back on track, Hamilton was agitated on the radio, bemoaning the decision to bring him in.
Courtesy of his early stop, Ricciardo had quietly risen to 11th, closing in on Ocon in the closing stages.
The Alpine was the only runner not to have stopped, turning in times almost a second slower than the closing McLaren.
However, time was on his side, with 7.5s separating the pair with three laps remaining.
Struggling with graining, Hamilton soon found himself under pressure from Gasly in sixth, though the Brit survived to ensure he maintained his position behind Leclerc.
That was how then ended, with Bottas winning from Verstappen, Perez, Leclerc, Hamilton, Gasly, Norris, Sainz, Lance Stroll, and Esteban Ocon.
Ricciardo dropped two places in the closing laps, falling behind Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen to finish 13th, while Alonso recovered only to 16th.
Hamilton now trails Verstappen by six points in the championship, having held a two-point advantage heading into the weekend.
Mercedes now holds a 36-point advantage over Red Bull, a three-point widening in the constructors’ championship battle.
Results: Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix
|1||77||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||58 laps|
|2||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||+14.584s|
|3||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||+33.471s|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+44.292s|
|9||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+82.018s|
|10||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+1 lap|
|11||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+1 lap|
|12||7||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+1 lap|
|13||3||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+1 lap|
|14||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+1 lap|
|15||63||George Russell||Williams||+1 lap|
|16||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+1 lap|
|17||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+1 lap|
|18||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+1 lap|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+2 laps|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+2 laps|
|2||Red Bull Racing||397.5|