Valterri Bottas wins a sovereign victory in Istanbul. Max Verstappen is now leading in the World Cup, also because Hamilton has to stop late. Mick Schumacher is pushed off the track by Fernando Alonso, for Sebastian Vettel it is a weekend to forget.
One wanted to drive through, the other force a coup: Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel failed with risky tactics at the rain-dominated Turkish Grand Prix. Hamilton played poker for a long time, even wanted to drive through to save at least third place – ultimately, after a late stop, the Formula 1 record world champion was only fifth and the loss of the championship lead to Max Verstappen.
At least Hamilton’s noble helper Valtteri Bottas prevented greater damage with his tenth Formula 1 victory before Verstappen. Thanks to second place, the Red Bull star is now six points ahead of Hamilton. His team mate Sergio Perez came in third.
Vettel also took risks in the fight for at least a few championship points – and was also not rewarded: While all opponents drove on intermediates, the Aston Martin driver had dry tires fitted after 40 of 58 laps. Vettel had to quickly find out: That doesn’t help. The Heppenheimer was passed on and finished 18th.
Mick Schumacher also experienced a used day. The 22-year-old’s Haas car was shot in the early stages by former world champion Fernando Alonso (Alpine). Schumacher, who had taken a strong 14th place on the grid in qualifying and was squinting towards the top 10, fell back to the bottom of the field and ultimately came in 19th.
It rained again overnight at the gates of Istanbul, the asphalt was still wet at the start, and it kept dripping slightly. “It’s going to be difficult today,” said Hamilton, who, despite the best time in qualifying, only started from eleventh place due to an engine penalty, about the conditions: “It’s damp, it’s drizzling, the track is very different from last year. Neither of us knows what’s going to happen today. “
In any case, little happened at the start. Pole-setter Bottas turned into the first corner before Verstappen, Hamilton passed Vettel quickly in poor visibility, but then got stuck seven laps behind the AlphaTauri of the Japanese Yuki Tsunoda. The world champion worked his way up place by place. Then a moving obstacle was waiting in Perez.
On lap 34, the two drivers fought a spectacular wheel-to-wheel duel over several bends, Perez left the track and partly used the pit entrance.
At the end of lap 36, Verstappen was the first top driver to get new intermediate tires – and came back on track ahead of the brawlers Perez and Hamilton. Hamilton and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc stayed on their first set of tires for a long time – in the hope that the track would dry out enough for dry tires.
With ten laps to go, Leclerc gave up on his plan, and after slowing down, he picked up new intermediates for the final sprint. Hamilton turned completely around: The 100-time Grand Prix winner wanted to cover the more than 309 km on a single set of tires. “I slide back and forth, but it still works”. Ultimately, the team overruled him. “We shouldn’t have come in! I told you,” Hamilton later complained about the stop.