Lewis Hamilton was crowned World Champion for the seventh time after an awe-inspiring masterclass at Istanbul
For the first 34 laps in the 58-lap Turkish Grand Prix, it seemed that Mercedes were on the back foot and that Hamilton would do just enough to seal the championship — but finish off the podium. His only championship rival Valtteri Bottas qualified three places down in P9 and put in a woeful performance on Sunday that saw him ultimately finish outside the points in P14!
The pandemic-affected race calendar forced race-promoters to resurface the Herman Tilke designed track in an attempt to make it F1-worthy again, but ironically that effort made the surface incredibly slippery. And made the race weekend totally unpredictable! For starters, pole position went to Lance Stroll in the Racing Point followed by Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Alex Albon, Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, Esteban Ocon, Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas and Antonio Giovinazzi!
Race day temperatures were cold and a steady rain overnight left the track surface damp, offering very low grip levels. At the lights, the Red Bulls were mobbed by both Renaults, Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari from way down in P12! Verstappen and Albon just could not find any traction toget off the grid. The Racing Point cars, however, did and were comfortably heading the field in front, giving everyone the hope of a new race winner.
Ever since this unusual 2020 season kicked off Racing Point dubbed the “pink Mercedes” have come under close scrutiny by rival teams for resembling the 2019 Mercedes W10 too much. But in terms of sheer race performance, they hadn’t been able to trouble the podium regulars too often. In Istanbul, under wet conditions, they appeared to be in control and looked set to dominate. Hamilton was running in the position he qualified in and was a full pit-stop behind Stroll! Verstappen grew impatient in the slipstream of Perez and slid his Red Bull out of contention on lap 18.
As the race progressed, a dry racing line began to emerge and those shod with intermediate tyres either pitted for fresh ones or contemplated slicks. Hamilton’s Mercedes finally began to generate heat into its rear tyres and that was enough for the Briton to overcome the greasy conditions from P6. He overtook Perez, who was in the lead after Stroll pitted, and never looked back. Sebastian Vettel who snatched P3 at the end summed up Hamilton’s victory. “If we’re honest, it wasn’t his race to win and he still won it.”
Up next is the Bahrain double-header. Will a desert storm stop Hamilton?