Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas won an engrossing Turkish Grand Prix that was run in damp conditions, with the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez completing the podium. A late decision to change tyres cost Lewis Hamilton some points as he had to be satisfied with a fifth-place finish despite moving to third spot, starting from 11th spot, at one time.
Light rain peppered the track well before the race and while the rain stopped, conditions called for intermediate tyres throughout.
With his second-place finish, Verstappen overtook Hamilton at the top of the table with 262.5 points, six points ahead of close rival Hamilton (256.5 points). Bottas is in third place with 177 points.
On Sunday, Bottas led the race starting from the pole, his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton having started 11th thanks to his 10-place engine-related penalty, while Verstappen followed the Finn.
By the 11th lap, Hamilton was up into the top-five having passed Pierre Gasly. The defending champion was promoted to fourth when Sergio Perez pitted on lap 38.
The pit stops came thick and fast from lap 35 onwards as Lando Norris was first to choose new inters, Verstappen in next on lap 37 from P2, and Bottas pitting from the lead one lap later. Charles Leclerc was released into the lead but on lap 48 of 58, he decided the gamble to forgo a pitstop wasn’t going to pay off and came in for new intermediary tyres, according to a report on the official website.
Bottas delivered his first win since Russia 2020 with a flawless performance from then on, a bonus point bagged as he also took the fastest lap.
Leclerc’s stop put Hamilton into third, the Briton seemingly trying to make it to the end on his starting tyres, or at least make it to dry conditions. With clouds still out, he finally boxed on lap 51 – his tyres having turned into slicks. He was left furious, ask”ng his team: “Why did we give u” that place?!” He finally finished fifth.
That promoted Leclerc back into the top three but he was passed by Perez on lap 52, the Red Bull driver taking the third position and his first podium since France. Leclerc finished fourth as Hamilton could not catch the Ferrari driver in the closing laps.
Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly took the sixth position, having shrugged off a five-second penalty for a Lap 1 collision that sent P5 starter Fernando Alonso into a spin. Next on the board was Lando Norris, who was one of the earliest to pit for new intermediary tyres (on lap 35) and who settled for seventh having started there.
Carlos Sainz managed a brilliant recovery to the eighth position as engine penalties saw him start 19th, the Ferrari driver up into the points by lap 14. His foray up the order was somewhat hurt by an 8.1s pit stop late on, without which he could have been in touching distance of Norris ahead.