Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas took the tenth win of his Formula 1 career at the Turkish Grand Prix with a controlled drive at Istanbul that saw him finish take the flag ahead of the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile finished fifth, after starting from 11th on the grid.
When the lights went out at the start, polesitter Bottas got away well in damp conditions to take the race lead ahead of Verstappen who also made a ghood start. Behind them Pérez was one of the quickest to react to the lights and as the front runners made their way to Turn 1 the Mexican, who had started sixth, was able to draw alongside Pierre Gasly who was fourth on the grid.
The AlphaTauri driver was battling with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, however, and the pair made contact. Alonso was sent into a spin and the incident allowed Pérez to slip through to steal fourth place.
At the front and in clean air, Bottas began to pull away from Verstappen and by lap 10 the Finn was two seconds clerar of the Red Bull driver who was 1.8s ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
At this stage, the drivers making the biggest moves forward were Hamilton who had climbed to seventh place from 11th place on the grid and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who had risen to P11 after starting from 19th place due to a power unit penalty.
Hamilton was soon past McLaren’s Lando Norris and on lap 15 he powered past Gasly on the run to Turn 12 to take fifth place. He was now just 6.5s behind the Red Bull driver and over the next seven laps he cut the deficit to three seconds. Behind them Sainz was continuing his climb through the field and by lap 25 he had muscled his way through to ninth place.
Pérez now began to pick up the pace to match Hamilton’s times and at half distance he was holding the gap steady at around three seconds. However, on lap 34, Hamilton reeled in Pérez and attacked. The pair went wheel-to-wheel and as they battled hard Pérez was forced to go inside the bollard at the pit entry. That allowed Hamilton to pull ahead as they crossed the line 35 but Checo stayed calm and held his line to move back to fourth as they went through Turn 1.
Verstappen then made his sole pit stop of the race and he took another set of intermediates in a quick 2.1s stop. Pérez followed and he also took on intermediates.
Leclerc, who had not pitted, now led the race ahead of Bottas and Verstappen, while Hamilton was fourth, 14 seconds ahead of Pérez. Hamilton was called to the pits on lap 42 by Mercedes but with no requirement to change tyres in the damp conditions and with his times still solid Hamilton elected to stay out.
At the front of the pack, Bottas, closed on Leclerc who was struggling on starting inters. And on lap 47 there was nothing the Ferrari driver could do as Bottas powered past through Turn 1 to retake the lead. Leclerc pitted at the end of the lap.
Hamilton, meanwhile, told his pit wall that while he was sliding around he could manage the tyres and with 10 laps left he held third place behind Verstappen and Bottas. His team disagreed, however, and on lap 51 Hamilton made a stop for a new set of intermediates. He rejoined in fifth place, six seconds behind Pérez.
The Mexican was on the move, however, and on lap 52 he powered past Leclerc to seize third place.
Hamilton was now suffering severe graining on his new intermediate as they went through the drop-off phase before going slick and he began to drop back from Leclerc and into the clutches of Gasly who was lapping up to two seconds quicker. But even though Gasly pushed hard to close up the Mercedes, Hamilton held firm in the final laps to keep fifth place.
And, after 58 laps, Bottas crossed the line to take his first win of the season. Verstappen followed to take his 54th career podium finish ahead of team-mate Pérez. With Leclerc fourth ahead of Hamilton and Gasly, seventh place went to Norris. Sainz completed an excellent recovery drive with eighth place at the flag, while Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll took ninth. The final point on offer went to Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.
Verstappen’s P2 finish means he now has 262.5 points in the Driver’s Championship, six clear of Hamilton. In the Constructors’ Championship Mercedes now have 433.5 points with Red Bull Racing in second place on 397.5
2021 FIA Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix – Race
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 58 1:31’04.103
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 58 1:31’18.687 14.584
3 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 58 1:31’37.574 33.471
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 58 1:31’41.917 37.814
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 58 1:31’45.915 41.812
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 58 1:31’48.395 44.292
7 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 58 1:31’51.316 47.213
8 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 58 1:31’55.629 51.526
9 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 58 1:32’26.121 1’22.018
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 57 1:31’14.837 1 lap /10.734
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 57 1:31’15.592 1 lap /11.489
12 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 57 1:31’20.625 1 lap /16.522
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 57 1:31’23.174 1 lap /19.071
14 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 57 1:31’28.529 1 lap /24.426
15 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 57 1:31’32.219 1 lap /28.116
16 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 57 1:31’34.608 1 lap /30.505
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 57 1:31’40.119 1 lap /36.016
18 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 57 1:31’59.986 1 lap /55.883
19 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 56 1:31’23.389 2 laps /19.286
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 56 1:31’47.531 2 laps /43.428