Your Dose of obsession from Formula 1, Flying, Travel, Football, Watches, Collectibles and everything inspirational everywhere in daily life

Posts for Tag: Istanbul

2021 Turkish GP Race Recap : The Flawless Finn in Fickle weather!

The 2021 F1 Season originally featured a 23 race calendar. However, with the world still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Formula One management faced challenges in adhering to the original schedule. The Japanese GP was one such race that got cancelled due to the Quarantine protocols of the country. As a result, the hunt began for a replacement, and it was Turkey that came to the sport's rescue. After a hiatus of 9 years, the circuit got included in 2020, and come 2021, Istanbul Park hosted the 2nd "fly-away" event of the revised F1 Calendar.

The Hermann Tilke designed circuit was another track that ran in an anti-clockwise direction and offered several overtaking opportunities. Ex-F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone dubbed it "the best track in the world". The changeable weather conditions had produced a humdinger of a GP in 2020. Hamilton got crowned the World Champion at this track, equalling the record of 7 world titles in 2020. While the weather forecast stated mixed conditions for the race in 2021, the Championship battle remained an open affair, be it the Drivers or the Constructors.

In the week leading up to the Turkish GP weekend, the FOM added Losail International Circuit ( Qatar ) to the 2021 calendar. Qatar also bagged a ten-year deal to host F1 races from 2023. 

While Japan got replaced by Turkey, it didn't prevent Red Bull from running "special White liveried" cars on both the teams ( Red Bull and Alpha Tauri ) as a tribute to engine supplier Honda. Red Bull and Honda also announced a collaboration beyond F1 from 2022. The Japanese manufacturer also offered its support to "Red Bull Powertrains" for 2022.

Meanwhile, Mercedes saw it wise to give Hamilton a 4th ICE ( Internal Combustion Engine ) for the Turkish GP weekend. As a result, the Briton got a ten-place grid penalty for the race. As for Sainz, the Spaniard opted for a completely new Power Unit, which relegated him to the back of the grid for the race. 

In an attempt to improve safety in the sport, the FIA asked Hamilton, Vettel, Sainz, Russell and Ricciardo to trial prototype gloves ( on Friday ) that featured better protection from heat.

Reliability was the biggest concern for the front running teams. With the season nearing its business end, the struggle to extend the shelf life of the components raged on.

Was there another twist in the title fight? Did the special livery give Red Bull and Honda a memorable weekend? Was Hamilton able to limit the effect of his grid penalty? Time for a recap of the Turkish GP weekend!

Practice :

Clear skies greeted the drivers at the start of FP1. Kimi Raikkonen, the first Turkish GP winner, had two lap times deleted after exceeding the track limits at turn 6. While Verstappen complained about low grip levels on the soft tyres, Leclerc looked competitive in his Ferrari. However, it was Hamilton who topped the timesheets, four-tenths clear of Verstappen and Leclerc. Bottas was P4 in the other Mercedes, followed by Sainz and Ocon. Ocon had set his best attempt on the hard tyres, which suggested that the Alpines looked set for a strong weekend. Likewise, his teammate Alonso set his quickest lap on the medium tyres. Norris was P7 for McLaren, followed by Gasly, Alonso and Perez, who completed the top 10.

Russell led the lower half of the field, with Ricciardo and Vettel P12 and P13, respectively. Latifi split the Alfa Romeos of Giovinazzi and Raikkonen in P15, while P17 was the best that Stroll could manage in the other Aston Martin car. The back of the field got completed by Tsunoda, Schumacher and Mazepin.

FP2 got underway, and with the track rubbered in from FP1, lap times began to improve. Bottas suffered a lock-up at turn one while Norris went over the kerbs at nine and ten. Drivers jostled for track position, and Stroll caused a traffic jam, much to the displeasure of Alonso. Hamilton, too, had to take avoiding action. While Latifi got spun around at turn 9, Raikkonen had issues with his drinks system, which left him stuck in the garage for a considerable time. Gasly complained about his seat positioning and suffered a spin at turn 6, which flat-spotted his tyres. Mazepin suffered a similar fate, destroying his mediums at turn eight. Post FP2, Ocon's Alpine broke down while performing a practice start on the grid.

It was Hamilton again at the top of the timesheets, a tenth clear of Leclerc and Bottas. The Red Bulls of Perez and Verstappen were P4 and P5, with Norris completing the top 6. Alonso and Ocon were 7th and 8th for Alpine, followed by the Alpha Tauri of Gasly and the Alfa Romeo of Giovinazzi. 

Tsunoda was P11 in the other Alpha Tauri, with Sainz and Stroll P12 and P13, respectively. 14th was the best that Ricciardo managed in FP2, followed by Raikkonen and Vettel. The Williams of Latifi and Russell and the Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin completed the rear of the field.

Mercedes had a strong showing on Friday, while Red Bull struggled with setup issues. Ferrari, too, looked competitive and seemed to have a measure of rivals McLaren. Saturday promised to be another busy day for the teams and the drivers as they prepped the cars for Qualifying and then the Grand Prix. 

Rain hit the circuit overnight and in the early hours of the morning. As a result, FP3 saw wet weather conditions. While some drivers waited for conditions to improve, others decided to take to the track and gather data under changeable weather. Tsunoda was the first man out in FP3, followed by Gasly, who suffered a spin at turn 11. With increased grip levels, it became evident that the intermediates were the better tyres for the remainder of the session. However, Mazepin suffered a spin at turn 11, while Russell went surfing through the grass at turn two and beached his Williams in the gravel. As a result, the session got briefly Red Flagged. Turns nine and ten had standing water, and slip-ups by Leclerc, Vettel and Verstappen cost them a spin. Tsunoda got impeded by Perez on a flying lap while Alonso had a trip through the gravel.

It was Honda power in the top 3, with Gasly topping the timesheets from Verstappen and Perez. The Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc were P4 and P5, followed by Alonso and Raikkonen. Tsunoda, Bottas and Ocon completed the top 10.

Giovinazzi was P11 in the other Alfa Romeo, followed by Vettel and Schumacher. The McLarens of Ricciardo and Norris were P14 and P15, respectively, with Stroll setting the 16th quickest time in his Aston Martin. Mazepin was P17 in the other Haas, while Hamilton was P18, having spent the majority of FP3 in the garage. The Williams of Latifi and Russell completed the rear of the field.

Qualifying :

The skies were overcast, and the risk of rain was at 100%. Post FP3, the track still had damp patches off the racing line. However, the teams and drivers deemed conditions to be fit to run slick tyres.

The lights went green for the start of Q1, and all the drivers rushed onto the track to set representative laps. Softs were the tyre of choice, with the cars fueled for multiple runs. McLaren informed Ricciardo that rain would hit the circuit three minutes into Q1. As the drivers began their first timed laps, Hamilton struggled to control his Mercedes at turn one and suffered a lap time deletion. His championship rival Verstappen spun at turn one, while Sainz's spin brought out the yellow flags in the first sector. There was a host of lap time deletions with drivers exceeding track limits, the Alfa Romeo duo of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi suffering the most. The rain arrived, and conditions got trickier with each passing minute. However, the drivers soldiered on with slick tyres.

Hamilton, Gasly, Verstappen, Bottas, Ricciardo and Stroll were the top 6, with Perez, Schumacher, Mazepin, Alonso and Sainz in the drop zone, halfway through Q1.

Tsunoda had an off-track excursion at turn one, while Leclerc and Raikkonen suffered from lap time deletions after exceeding track limits. Turn one saw two spins for Mazepin as several drivers returned to the pits for a fresh set of soft tyres in the final minutes. Red Bull informed Verstappen that conditions were improving as the rain eased off. Eventually, track evolution became rapid, and drivers jostled to be the last one to set a time. 

At the end of Q1, Hamilton, Verstappen, Gasly, Leclerc, Perez and Bottas were the top 6, with Ricciardo, Latifi, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen and Mazepin getting eliminated. Sainz was the last driver to attempt a lap and enjoyed the best conditions. He was pivotal in ousting Ricciardo, the shock of Q1.

Q2 got underway, and thankfully, the rain stayed away. The drivers had fuel for multiple runs, with Tsunoda, Schumacher and Russell opting for softs while the rest, the medium tyres. Sainz chose to stay put and save mileage on his engine. Perez lost control of his Red Bull and went across the gravel at turn one. 

Halfway through Q2, Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Alonso, Gasly and Tsunoda were the top 6, with Vettel, Stroll, Schumacher, Russell and Sainz facing elimination.

The drivers pitted for fresh tyres. Leclerc, on his flying lap, suffered a spin at the final turn. Meanwhile, Stroll missed his braking and ran wide at turn one and then across the gravel like Perez. Russell looked set to break into the top 10 on his final attempt when the rear of his Williams snapped out of control at the last turn. The Briton ran wide and was out of contention. Sainz emerged from the pits but didn't attempt a timed lap. Instead, he gave Leclerc a tow which catapulted the Monegasque into the top 10 with the 7th quickest time. 

Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Gasly, Alonso, Perez, Leclerc, Tsunoda, Stroll and Norris made it into Q3, while Vettel, Ocon, Russell, Schumacher and Sainz got eliminated.

The start of Q3 saw Tsunoda opt for the medium tyres, with Perez, Leclerc and Stroll choosing a used set of soft tyres. The drivers headed out for their first timed laps, with some aiming to complete two attempts.

Less than six-tenths separated the top 6 drivers as Bottas went quicker than Hamilton and Verstappen at the top. 

The drivers returned to the pits for the final minutes of the top-ten shootout. Hamilton, Tsunoda, Leclerc and Gasly went out earlier than the rest of the field, and everyone got a fresh set of softs.

Hamilton improved his lap time to go quickest and two-tenths clear of Bottas. The Briton attempted another lap but failed to improve. As for Bottas, it was a faster lap, but not enough to beat Hamilton's time. Verstappen set the 3rd quickest time, with Leclerc going P4. Four-tenths separated the top 4 drivers. Gasly, Alonso and Perez were within a second of Hamilton's attempt in P5, P6, and P7, respectively. Norris was P8, with row 5 getting occupied by Stroll and Tsunoda.

Although Hamilton was the quickest at the end of Q3, the Briton would eventually start the race in P11 due to his grid penalty. Bottas inherited pole position and had the opportunity of scoring a much-awaited victory come Sunday. As for Hamilton, it was the best possible result in Qualifying, and with the several overtaking opportunities, the Briton looked set to carve his way through the field. Reliability remained a challenge, though.

Red Bull had been 2nd best, and Verstappen predicted a tough battle against the Mercedes on Sunday. However, the Dutchman had a front-row start and was capable of beating Bottas over race distance. As for Perez, P6 wasn't the ideal result, but the Mexican got tasked with holding up Hamilton for as long as possible. The possibility of outscoring Mercedes seemed unlikely for Red Bull. 

Ferrari produced a tactical masterclass in Qualifying. The team made the right calls to hamper and compromise McLaren's chances on the weekend. While Sainz had a start from the back of the grid, the Spaniard took part in Qualifying and did enough to bump Ricciardo out of Q1. More importantly, the tow provided to Leclerc in Q2 helped the latter get a place in Q3. Leclerc repaid the team's efforts with a stellar lap which saw him inherit a P3 start. The Ferrari drivers had been strong in the race simulations in the practice sessions and looked set to outscore the McLaren duo. A podium finish was on the cards with the right strategic calls.

It had been a long time since Alpha Tauri had both its drivers in Q3. While Gasly remained ever efficient, Tsunoda, after a few hiccups, came good with the 9th quickest time. Qualifying was a confidence booster for Tsunoda since the rookie had been under fire for his mediocre performances the past few weeks. In the quest for P5 in the Constructors, outscoring Alpine was paramount, and with both its drivers in the top 10, Alpha Tauri aimed for a double points haul. 

Alonso out-qualified his teammate Ocon to start P5 on Sunday. The Spaniard was famous for lightning starts and gaining multiple positions on the opening lap. His race was pivotal for Alpine's hopes of keeping Alpha Tauri at bay. As for Ocon, a P12 start was far from ideal, but the Frenchman needed smart calls from the pit wall coupled with bold overtaking manoeuvres to break into the top 10. The presence of quicker cars behind made the task more challenging.

Norris was McLaren's best hope at salvaging what had been a tough weekend. P7 was the best that the Briton could achieve on Saturday, while Ricciardo qualified a lowly P15. The possibility of outscoring Ferrari was unlikely. McLaren was in damage limitation mode come Sunday. 

It wasn't smooth sailing for the Aston Martin drivers. While Stroll made it into Q3, Vettel narrowly missed out in P11. Nevertheless, the duo would start P8 and P10 following Hamilton's grid penalty. Although superior race strategies had helped Stroll and Vettel in the past, the presence of quicker cars behind them presented a challenge for staying in points-scoring positions. Aston Martin was trailing its rivals by a considerable margin and couldn't afford a mediocre result from either driver.

Russell's mistake on his final attempt of Q2 cost him a place in the top 10. The Briton rued the missed opportunity and qualified a disappointing P13. However, it was Sunday that mattered, and he hoped to make amends on race day. P16 was the best that Latifi could achieve in the other Williams. The Canadian faced a long Sunday afternoon. 

Schumacher had hoped for damp conditions, and like his father, produced a stellar lap to qualify P14 in a Haas. It was Schumacher's first Q2 appearance, an achievement after having started at the back row of the grid for the majority of the season. Race day posed a different challenge, and Schumacher didn't seem to have the pace to sustain P14. As for Mazepin, it was a baptism by fire. The Russian had off-track excursions, spins and lap time deletions which left him in P20 and last.  

Despite showing promise all weekend, Giovinazzi and Raikkonen could only manage P18 and P19, respectively. The duo suffered from several lap time deletions as neither got the optimal setup. A good race strategy was the only hope to salvage something from the weekend.

Race :

McLaren opted for a new ICE, Turbo and MGU-H for Ricciardo, which relegated him to the back of the grid alongside Sainz. 

C2, C3 and C4 were the dry tyres available for the race, but track conditions were more suitable for the intermediates after rain hit the circuit on Sunday morning.

The cars headed out for the formation lap, and Alpha Tauri informed Gasly that conditions would stay the same for the whole race. 

The race got underway, and after an initial stutter, it was a clean getaway for Bottas. Verstappen tried to challenge Bottas but had to relent at turn one. Gasly got sandwiched at turn one with Perez on the inside and Alonso on the outside. Alonso tried an opportunistic overtake and got hit by Gasly, which sent him into a spin and dropped him to P17. The incident got investigated, and Gasly got a five seconds time penalty. 

Further down the field, Hamilton made a cautious start in P10. The Alfa Romeo duo of Giovinazzi and Raikkonen was up to P12 and P13, respectively, with Ricciardo in P16. A spin for Latifi relegated him to P20. Russell got past Schumacher for P14, while Perez was up to P4.

Hamilton began his charge up the field with an overtake on Vettel for P9. Alonso got past Sainz for P16 but then hit Schumacher, which sent the latter into a spin ( at turn 4 ). The incident got investigated, and Alonso got a five seconds time penalty. Bottas was the quickest man on track and extended his lead to 1.6 seconds.

Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, Gasly, Norris, Stroll, Tsunoda, Hamilton and Vettel were the top 10 at the end of lap 5.

The teams instructed their drivers to cool the intermediate tyres by going over damp patches on the circuit. Meanwhile, Sainz relegated Russell to P15 on lap 6. Hamilton honed in on Tsunoda and pressured him for P7, but the rookie rebuffed Hamilton's challenge. Sainz got past Giovinazzi and Raikkonen to move up to P12, while Hamilton finally overtook Tsunoda for P7 on lap 8. 

Further down the field, Latifi got past Schumacher for P19, while Ocon got relegated to P12 by Sainz ( lap 9 ). Hamilton, in clear air, began to push and closed up on Stroll, completing an easy overtake on the Aston Martin driver for P6. He then relegated Norris to P6 on lap 11. The Briton was now setting blistering lap times and reducing the deficit to Gasly rapidly.

At the front, Bottas informed Mercedes that the circuit was still damp and the track wasn't drying up despite the water getting dispersed by the 20 cars. The battle for P10 was hotting up with Sainz pressuring Vettel. The Spaniard got past on lap 14, but the duo banged wheels. Meanwhile, Gasly, struggling with graining on his intermediate tyres, put up a weak defence against Hamilton on lap 15. Hamilton was now P5. 

Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, Hamilton, Gasly, Norris, Stroll, Tsunoda and Sainz were the top 10 on lap 16.

Verstappen and Bottas exchanged the fastest laps while Sainz got past Tsunoda for P9. McLaren asked Norris about grip levels, and the Briton quipped that his intermediates were now turning into slicks ( lap 21 ). Meanwhile, Ricciardo affirmed that he would be much quicker if McLaren pitted him. The team adhered to the request, and the Australian switched to a new set of intermediates on lap 22, rejoining in P18. 

Tsunoda suffered a spin at turn nine and got relegated to P13 ( lap 23 ). Leclerc was the quickest man on track as Gasly reported light rain at turn nine. Bottas was now 2.5 seconds clear off Verstappen in the lead. Sainz informed Ferrari that a one-stop strategy looked optimal for the race. 

Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, Hamilton, Gasly, Norris, Stroll, Sainz and Vettel were the top 10 on lap 29.

Bottas reported light rain from turns six to twelve. Meanwhile, Alonso pitted for a fresh set of intermediates on lap 31 and rejoined in P18. Hamilton had closed upon Perez in the battle for P4 and got wheel-to-wheel with him going into the final turn. Perez almost got pushed into the pit lane entry while defending his position but put up a dogged defence, holding on to P4. Meanwhile, Ricciardo got past Latifi and Russell for P15. Norris pitted for new intermediates on lap 35 and rejoined in P9.

More drivers began to pit for a fresh set of intermediates, and Tsunoda, Russell, and Verstappen made the switch on lap 36. Lap 37 saw Sainz, Mazepin and Vettel pit. Sainz had a slow stop of 8.1 seconds after the team held him up to avoid an unsafe release ( into Mazepin's path ). Vettel, meanwhile, took the bold decision of switching to slick tyres. The German took a used set of mediums and tip-toed his way out of the pits. It, however, turned out to be the incorrect decision as Vettel struggled to keep his Aston Martin on the track, rapidly falling backwards. He returned to the pits after just one lap to switch back to the intermediates. 

Bottas and Perez pitted for a fresh set of intermediates on lap 38, with Raikkonen following suit on 39. Hamilton, now in clear air, began to push in P2. Meanwhile, Gasly and Stroll pitted for intermediates on lap 40, rejoining in P6 and P11, respectively. 

Leclerc, in the lead, contemplated going till the end of the race without pitting. Ferrari acknowledged his request but continued their discussions on the pit wall. Further down the field, Giovinazzi and Schumacher also pitted for new intermediates on lap 41. 

The Mercedes pit crew were ready in the pits for Hamilton, but the Briton went against the instructions on lap 42. He believed he could manage the current set of tyres until the end of the race. At the front, Bottas was catching Leclerc, who locked up and ran wide, reducing his lead to 2 seconds. Verstappen reported steering wheel issues on lap 44, while Sainz got past Ocon for P8. Bottas reclaimed the lead on lap 46, and immediately after, Leclerc pitted for new intermediates and rejoined in P4. Sainz was setting blistering lap times in clear air.

Bottas, Verstappen, Hamilton, Leclerc, Perez, Gasly, Norris, Sainz, Ocon and Stroll were the top 10 on lap 50. 

Hamilton and Mercedes had been in intense discussion, and it became evident that Hamilton wasn't able to bridge the gap to Verstappen. Meanwhile, Leclerc and Perez had begun to eat into his lead. Mercedes informed Hamilton that if he delayed pitting, then he would lose more positions. The Briton finally relented on lap 51 and rejoined in P5. Meanwhile, on the track, Perez got past Leclerc for P3 ( lap 52 ).

On asking his position on the track, Mercedes informed Hamilton that he was in P5. Hamilton made his displeasure known and questioned the team about not listening to his assessment of the tyres. The Briton closed up on Leclerc on lap 53 and suddenly lost grip! He had entered the graining phase of his new tyres and ended up losing 3 seconds on a single lap. Gasly and Norris, who had pitted earlier than Hamilton, were past that graining phase and began to pressure the latter into an error.

The battle for P9 saw Stroll emerge victorious over Ocon. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race on lap 57 and took the point that came with it. Further down the field, Ricciardo got relegated to P13 by the Alfa Romeo duo of Giovinazzi and Raikkonen. 

Bottas took the Chequered Flag and victory at the Turkish GP! Verstappen came home in 2nd, with Perez 3rd to complete a double podium finish for Red Bull. P4 was the best that Leclerc could manage for Ferrari, followed by a dejected Hamilton in P5. The Briton fended off the challenge by Gasly and Norris, who finished P6 and P7, respectively. Sainz, Stroll and Ocon completed the top 10.

The Alfa Romeo duo of Giovinazzi and Raikkonen were P11 and P12, followed by Ricciardo in the other McLaren. Tsunoda finished P14, with Alonso splitting the Williams of Russell and Latifi in P16. Vettel, Schumacher and Mazepin completed the classification, all 20 drivers finishing the Grand Prix.

It had been a long wait for Bottas, who hadn't won a race since the 2020 Russian GP. However, it was an assured display of racecraft by the Finn in changeable weather conditions. More importantly, he got the point for the fastest lap as well. The win cemented his hold on P3 in the Drivers' standings. As for Hamilton, it was a long post-race debrief as he questioned Mercedes' decision to switch him to new tyres in the final laps. He believed he would have held on to P3 ( on old tyres ) and further limited the dent caused to his title challenge by Verstappen. Hamilton had the pace to finish second best if not win, had the weather not played spoilsport. This result could prove pivotal in the title fight with Verstappen. In the Constructors standings, Mercedes outscored Red Bull by three points and extended their lead to 36.

Red Bull had a strong showing at a circuit where they looked to be struggling. The special livery gave the team a memorable weekend as they scored a double podium finish. Verstappen's P2 allowed him to retake the lead in the Drivers' Championship. The Dutchman led Hamilton by six points, having driven a measured race with minimal risks taken. As for Perez, the Mexican earned brownie points with his staunch defence against relentless pressure by Hamilton. The podium finish was also a confidence booster after many mediocre and under-performing race weekends. 

Leclerc and Sainz produced stellar drivers to give Ferrari a big haul of 16 points. While Leclerc tried to risk it all for a win, Sainz made the right calls along with opportunistic overtakes to charge through the field. Sainz also got awarded the "Driver of the Day". Eventually, Leclerc finished P4 and Sainz a commendable P8 to reduce the deficit to McLaren to only 7.5 points. Ferrari had looked competitive all weekend, and they capitalized on the opportunity.

Gasly's P6 finish and 8 points helped Alpha Tauri outscore Alpine and reduce the gap to 12 points in the Constructors. The coming together with Alonso on the opening lap got him a time penalty which seemed harsh. Nevertheless, the Frenchman recovered to produce a strong result. He came close to overtaking Hamilton in the final laps of the race. As for Tsunoda, a mistake on lap 23 bumped him out of the points, and the rookie never recovered from thereon. It was an opportunity missed for Tsunoda after having qualified in the top 10. 

Norris was McLaren's best hope for Sunday, and the Briton finished in P7, bringing home 6 points. As for his teammate Ricciardo, it was a tough day at the office. The Australian struggled with his rear brakes and pitted for fresh tyres too early. He eventually fell backwards to finish a lowly P13 and end a disappointing display. McLaren hadn't looked competitive all weekend and took a hit to the buffer they had built on Ferrari in the Constructors.

A strategic blunder with Vettel cost Aston Martin a double-points finish. The German ended his race in P18, ahead of the Haas cars, while his teammate Stroll, after numerous battles, managed P9. Aston Martin's deficit to Alpha Tauri increased further after another lacklustre weekend. The team needed change, and quickly if they were to salvage anything better than P7 in the Constructors.

Alpine, like Aston Martin, had a tough weekend. Ocon finished in P10 and got Alpine a point. He was the only driver who didn't pit for the entirety of the race. Had the Chequered Flag not been waved on lap 58, Ocon would have lost P10 to Giovinazzi, who on fresher tyres, and caught up to him and finished only seven-tenths adrift. A collision on the first lap, followed by a time penalty for sending Schumacher into a spin, destroyed Alonso's race. The Spaniard had the pace to finish the race in the top 6 but failed to recover from the incidents. He finished in P16. Alpine needed to forget this weekend as soon as possible.

It was yet another race on the cusp of points for Alfa Romeo. Giovinazzi and Raikkonen finished in P11 and P12, respectively, and were inseparable throughout the race. While Alfa Romeo tried a position swap between the duo, Raikkonen didn't close enough to enforce team orders. With the season nearing its end, Alfa Romeo would get limited opportunities for more points finishes and looked destined to finish P9 in the Championship.

Russell finished P14 while Latifi, despite his spin, recovered to P16. These results were the best that Williams duo could manage from a challenging weekend. As for Haas F1, after his heroics on Saturday, it was no secret that Schumacher would struggle to hold his own against quicker cars around him. Unfortunately, the incident with Alonso robbed him of a fighting chance on one of his best weekends. Mazepin finished P20, and last and Haas F1 was yet to score a point in 2021.

It is a see-saw battle between Hamilton and Verstappen, with the latter taking the lead after the Russian GP. The strategy call by Mercedes could prove to be one of the pivotal moments in this season's fight for supremacy. The next race is trans-Atlantic at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Would we see another twist, or would the status quo remain? Time would reveal all.

However, the crown of the Turkish GP belonged to Valtteri Bottas, the Flawless Finn in the Turkish rain!

2020 Turkish GP Race Recap : Win Number 94, Title Number 7, but no stroll in the Park!

The Istanbul Park Circuit became the venue for Round 14 of the 2020 F1 Season. Turkey, which had last hosted an F1 race in 2011, made an unlikely return to the sport in the pandemic-hit season. The Hermann Tilke designed circuit was another to run in an anti-clockwise direction and had gone through a re-surfacing procedure a fortnight before the F1 weekend. The new tarmac made it an added challenge for those who had never raced here before.

The season was nearing its end, and reliability becomes a concern for teams and drivers. Allocations get exceeded leading to penalties, and Russell was one such driver to incur a power-unit grid penalty.


The Williams team acting team principal Simon Roberts tested positive for COVID-19 and had to miss the race weekend. 

Hamilton hoped to seal the Drivers' Title for the 7th time after his team bagged the Constructors' crown a fortnight earlier. The midfield battle was intense as ever while Alpha Tauri was closing in on Ferrari for 6th in the Constructors' Standings. 

Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen F1 celebrated 500 races in F1 while it was the 300th race weekend for Red Bull Racing. 

Time for a quick recap of the Turkish GP Weekend.

Practice :

Low Temperatures with fresh tarmac that was wet from the rain overnight greeted drivers for the start of FP1 on Friday morning. The drivers found conditions to be extremely difficult, the hard compound tyres complicating matters further. The bollard at the pit entry got taken out by Leclerc which Red Flagged the session for a brief period. Turns 1 and 14 were the culprits for multiple lap times deletion as drivers tried to explore different racing lines and limits of their cars. It was a tricky and challenging Friday morning with many drivers suffering from spins and some reporting that it felt like "driving on ice". Sainz had electrical issues on his McLaren and retired with more than an hour of running left in FP1. 

The Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Albon topped the timesheets at the end of FP1 followed by Leclerc, Gasly and Vettel. Norris, who celebrated his 21st birthday, was P7 for McLaren followed by Giovinazzi, Bottas and Ocon. Latifi set the 11th fastest time in his Williams, the Canadian enjoying the slippery conditions. The Racing Point cars were 12th and 13th, followed by Grosjean and Hamilton, who was 5 seconds adrift of the fastest time of FP1. The Briton had opted to sit out the majority of FP1. It was 16th for Raikkonen, the race winner of the inaugural Turkish GP in 2005 while Magnussen was 17th in the other Haas car. Ricciardo could manage only the 18th fastest time followed by Sainz and Russell.

The drivers had persisted with the medium and hard compounds for the entirety of FP1, and it was time to test the soft tyres in FP2. Drivers hoped to find more grip with higher ambient temperatures and ( some ) track evolution ( due to the running earlier ). However, the trend of spins due to lack of grip continued in FP2. Drivers also complained about the tyre-life of soft tyres, most complaining about graining after clocking up a few miles. Nevertheless, Leclerc and Kvyat managed to do 45 and 43 rounds of the track respectively. 

Verstappen was fastest again in FP2, having gone 7 seconds faster than his best time in FP1. Leclerc was P2 in his Ferrari followed by Bottas and Hamilton. Albon was 5th in the other Red Bull, and Kvyat and Gasly made it 4 Honda-powered cars in the top 7. Vettel was 8th in the other Ferrari with Stroll making it into the top 10 with the 9th fastest time followed by Norris in the McLaren. Less than a second covered P11 from P16 with Perez leading the second half of the field from Ocon and Giovinazzi. Sainz, Ricciardo and Raikkonen were 14th, 15th and 16th with Russell and Latifi split by the Haas cars at the back of the field. 

Friday had been a "baptism by fire" for almost all drivers. The fastest time on Friday was 4 seconds slower than the lap record set in 2005 by Juan Pablo Montoya. The track was slippery, and the lack of support races meant that it wasn't getting "rubbered in". The organisers deployed some road cars to lay extra rubber overnight, but the plan failed when the rain hit the circuit again.  

Saturday promised to be equally challenging with teams having to get their setups right in FP3 and Qualifying.  

FP3 got underway with the risk of rain at 90%, and the drivers opted for intermediate tyres. However, the grip levels were low, and Perez suffered a spin while Leclerc had a coming together with Ocon at turn 12. The rain intensified, and more drivers suffered from spins. The decision to switch to full Wet tyres didn't improve matters, and the drivers decided to return to their garages as the session timer ran down. The weather forecast for Qualifying was no different, and the teams had to make the tough call of sending their drivers out ( once the conditions improved ) or stay put to avoid incidents and possible repairs. It was a close call for Giovinazzi who brushed the barriers but escaped only with endplate damage on his front wing.

Verstappen was once again fastest at the end of FP3 with Leclerc splitting the Red Bulls in 2nd. Ocon, Norris and Vettel completed the top 6, more than 5 seconds adrift of Verstappen's time. Vettel managed to do 14 laps, the most by any driver in the session. It was a surprise to see Magnussen in 9th, the Dane splitting the Racing Point cars with his Haas. The only driver to have set his best lap on wet tyres was Ricciardo in 11th followed by Sainz and Giovinazzi. Grosjean was 15th in the other Haas with Raikkonen and Kvyat 16th and 17th respectively. The Williams duo and Hamilton did installation laps but failed to set a representative lap time.

Qualifying :

There was a drizzle in the air, and the risk of a deluge threatened overhead. The teams sent their drivers fueled for multiple laps at the start of Q1. The majority of the field opted for the wet tyres while the Red Bulls, McLarens, Ferraris, Perez and Grosjean chose the intermediates for their first runs. Albon and Grosjean wasted no time in switching to the wet tyres at the end of their out-lap. Verstappen, on the intermediate tyres, suffered a big scare down the straight as he lost the rear of his car. Ocon, Bottas, Stroll, Hamilton, Perez and Norris were the top 6 while Raikkonen got his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 1. Leclerc, Grosjean, Gasly, Russell, Latifi were in the drop zone as the rain intensified. Verstappen was on the cusp of elimination and ditched his intermediate tyres for full wets. However, the track conditions were getting tougher with each passing minute, and many drivers suffered spins. Eventually, the stewards decided to red flag Q1 until the conditions improved. Drivers also complained about visibility and condensation issues on their visors.

The downpour stopped, and the FIA deployed track sweepers to remove standing water from the track. Bernd Maylander, the Safety Car driver, did a couple of laps to recheck track conditions and the session resumed after a stoppage of 45 minutes. The two Red Bulls, Ferraris and Raikkonen were the first ones out as soon as the pitlane light went green. Raikkonen, who was second in this queue of cars, suffered a spin on the out-lap and lost track position to the Ferrari of Leclerc. Everyone was out of the pits with 5 minutes left on the clock. Leclerc ran wide at turn one on his flying lap while Grosjean got beached in the gravel at the same turn a few seconds later. The session got Red Flagged again!

There was a scramble in the garages with only three and a half minutes left when the light went green again. Kvyat was the next driver to suffer a spin but managed to carry on. Verstappen produced a stellar lap to set the fastest time at the end of Q1. Albon, Raikkonen, Vettel, Leclerc and Gasly completed the top 6. Hamilton set only the 14th quickest time but made it into Q2. Latifi went off at turn eight and got stuck in the gravel which brought out the double yellow flags. Those behind him came under investigation for ignoring the flags. 

Magnussen, Kyvat, Russell, Grosjean and Latifi got eliminated at the end of Q1.

Sainz had allegedly impeded Perez during Q1, and the stewards decided to investigate the incident.

The stewards decided to investigate all drivers who had set their fastest laps under yellow flag conditions post the end of Qualifying.  

Q2 got underway, and the McLaren drivers made a bold decision to put on intermediates while the rest of the field persisted with the wet tyres. Norris had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits at turn six, but lap times kept improving as more rubber got laid on the track. Stroll, Albon, Bottas, Verstappen, Raikkonen and Perez were the top 6 halfway through the session with Perez suffering from a lap time deletion for exceeding track limits at turn 6. Vettel, Giovinazzi, Gasly, Leclerc and Sainz were in the drop zone. 

The McLaren drivers switched to the wets as well while Verstappen moved to the top of the pile followed by the Mercedes duo and Albon.  The track was evolving at a rapid rate, and the drivers had fuel till the end of the session. The Chequered Flag was out to signal the end of Q2, but a lot of drivers were still improving on their final runs. 

Verstappen, Albon, Hamilton, Stroll, Giovinazzi, Ocon, Bottas, Raikkonen, Perez and Ricciardo made it into Q3 while both the Ferraris, the McLarens and Gasly got eliminated from Qualifying.

It was time for the top-10 shootout and Perez and Ocon chose the intermediate tyres. Verstappen was on the charge again, going 4 seconds clear of Bottas, Albon and Hamilton. However, his place at the top got usurped by Perez, the Mexican spinning on his second flying lap though. Verstappen was quick to respond and set the overall fastest times in sectors 1 and 2. However, Red Bull made a debatable call of calling him into the pits to switch to the intermediate tyres. Stroll, Giovinazzi and the Mercedes duo were the next to switch to intermediates for the final minutes of the session. Verstappen exited the pits but got stuck behind Raikkonen who was continuing his run on the wet tyres. 

Bottas and Giovinazzi were the next to suffer from spins as the lap times kept improving. Raikkonen made a mistake on his final attempt while Perez was leading a Racing Point 1-2. Perez too made an error and couldn't improve further. Meanwhile, his team-mate found grip and bagged Pole Position! Only Verstappen remained the real challenger but failed to dethrone Stroll falling short by less than three-tenths of a second! 

It was a Racing Point 1-3 with Verstappen splitting Stroll and Perez. Albon was 4th in the other Red Bull while Ricciardo was 5th for Renault. P6 was the best that Hamilton could manage. Ocon and Raikkonen took up row 4 with Bottas and Giovinazzi completing the top 10.

Sainz incurred a three-place grid penalty for impeding Perez in Q1. The Stewards concluded that Norris hadn't slowed enough under double yellow flag conditions ( due to Latifi's incident ) and handed him a five-place grid drop. The McLaren duo would start 15th and 16th.

It was the first-ever pole position for Stroll and best-ever starting position for Perez. The team had last celebrated a pole position at the Belgium Grand Prix in 2009 ( when they were called Force India ). It was the first time that a driver, other than Hamilton and Bottas, was on pole in 2020! In a tightly contested midfield, this was Racing Point's chance to bring home a big haul of points.

A disgruntled Verstappen sat disconsolately in the pits wondering what could have been. He didn't complete his faster attempt and got stuck behind Raikkonen for two laps in the final minutes of Qualifying ( after his pit stop ). Red Bull is still the best team ( in race trim ) in changeable weather conditions, and he could turn it around come Sunday. The team was also pleased with Albon's effort who did a commendable job to qualify in 4th. 

Renault had both its cars in the top 10 and hoped to outscore Racing Point and McLaren. The Alfa Romeo Racing cars made it into Q3 for the first time this year, and another dual-points finish beckoned. It had been a challenging qualifying for the Mercedes duo, and they hoped for an incident-free race start come Sunday. Ferrari and Alpha Tauri struggled to find the right balance and were hoping for better track conditions on race day. It had been a torrid qualifying session for McLaren with both drivers copping penalties. They would need a miracle to make it into the points. The chances of a decent finish seemed bleak for the Haas and Williams drivers.

Race :

The grid got finalised only 90 minutes before the race start. Russell also incurred a five-place grid penalty for ignoring double waved yellow flags in Q1 along with three penalty points on his license. Williams had decided to start both its cars from the pitlane, and the penalty became irrelevant.  Gasly got relegated to the back of the field after Alpha Tauri requested a full PU change on Saturday night and the stewards weren't pleased with the justification provided.

There was more drama before the start of the race when Giovinazzi spun at turn two and hit the barriers. He got stuck in the gravel and got craned out of his predicament. Meanwhile, Russell hit the wall at the pit entry and limped back to the pits. Both incidents happened on the sighting laps, but fortunately, the drivers were able to start the race after some quick repair work by their mechanics. 

Pirelli had chosen the C1, C2 and C3 compounds for the racebut the track was wet at the race start, and the need for slick tyres seemed improbable. Barring the Williams drivers, everyone else chose the wet tyres.

The five red lights went out, and it was one of the slowest starts off the line as everyone battled for grip. Verstappen got bogged down, and it was a Racing Point 1-2 with Stroll leading into turn 1. Hamilton, Ricciardo and Ocon were side-by-side into turn one, and Ricciardo's tried to take avoiding action from Hamilton on the inside which resulted in him tagging his team-mate and sending him into a spin. Bottas, a couple of car lengths behind too suffered a spin and dropped down the field. The Finn suffered another spin on the opening lap ( at turn 16 ), eventually ending up in 18th. Hamilton was P3, and Vettel made up seven places at the start to go P4! Hamilton was pushing hard and missed his braking point at turn 6. The Briton had to go around the bollard, and Vettel got promoted to 3rd on the opening lap! Hamilton lost two more positions to the Red Bulls ending up in 6th at the end of the opening lap.

Ocon had flat-spotted his tyres and pitted on lap 2 for another set, rejoining in 20th. Stroll was the fastest driver on track on lap 3 with Stroll, Perez, Vettel, Verstappen, Albon, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Sainz and Magnussen completing the top 10. 

Stroll continued to bang in fastest laps as he extended his lead to 6 seconds. Meanwhile, Sainz got past Raikkonen for P8 on lap 6. Perez, who was 2nd, finally got his tyres up to working temperatures and began eating into his team-mate's lead at the front. Stroll had notified the team that the track was drying and Leclerc was the first one to switch to intermediates on lap 7, rejoining in 19th. Bottas followed suit while Hamilton became the fastest man on track on lap 8. The switch to intermediates proved right as Leclerc went about setting purple sectors. There was a slew of pit stops which followed, with Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Kvyat, Giovinazzi and Grosjean switching to the intermediate tyres a lap later. 

Stroll pitted from the lead on lap 10 for a set of intermediate tyres, rejoining in 4th while Verstappen set the fastest lap of the race. Leclerc got past Russell for P12 while Norris pitted for intermediates, rejoining in 16th. The pit lane remained a hive of activity with Perez, Sainz, Ricciardo, Gasly and Ocon switching to the intermediates on lap 11. On the track, Leclerc got past Raikkonen for P10 and Grosjean overtook Ocon for P18. 

Verstappen expressed his desire to prolong his stint on wet tyres since he felt comfortable with the grip levels they had on offer. However, the team notified him of the lap times set by the majority of the field, instructing him to pit on lap 12. The Dutchman obeyed and rejoined in 3rd, jumping Vettel after his stop. Albon, the only driver on wet tyres, followed suit a lap later, rejoining in 6th. He lost a position to Hamilton in the process.

Raikkonen lost two more places to Russell and Bottas after a mistake on lap 13 while Kvyat went past Giovinazzi for P16. Giovinazzi stopped at turn nine a few seconds later with what seemed to be a mechanical issue. The stewards deployed the Virtual Safety Car for the extrication of the stricken Alfa Romeo. VSC lasted for a couple of laps, and when the racing resumed, Hamilton tried to make a move on Vettel only to run wide and lose 5th to Albon ( lap 16 ). Albon then got past Vettel for 4th a few corners later. Further down the field, Bottas got past Russell for P11 only to spin and get relegated to 14th. The damp conditions seemed tricky for the Finn who was trying his best to salvage a result and prolong his challenge for the title. 

Albon was the quickest driver on track on lap 17 while Norris got past Raikkonen for P12. Verstappen had closed in on Perez and was challenging him for 2nd but ran wide and did a pirouette at high speed. He lost three positions and had to pit for a new set of intermediates after flat-spotting his tyres, rejoining in 8th after his stop. The Dutchman attracted the attention of the stewards after he seemed to have crossed the white line at pit exit. However, he escaped a penalty following an investigation post-race. Albon and Leclerc were the fastest drivers on the circuit and exchanging fastest laps ( lap 19 to 21 ).

Stroll, Perez, Albon, Vettel, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Sainz, Verstappen, Leclerc and Magnussen were the top 10 at the end of lap 21.

Meanwhile, Bottas suffered yet another spin in sector one and was languishing in 17th. Hamilton was unable to overtake Vettel and started falling backwards while Norris relegated Russell to P12 ( lap 26 ). Norris then got past Magnussen and was into the points. Numerous drivers were complaining about the wear on intermediate tyres, and some moved away from the racing line to cool their tyres. The teams wanted to prolong the stint since the track wasn't ready for slick tyres yet. The exact moment of transitioning from the intermediates to the slicks could prove pivotal in this race. 

The Race Director enabled DRS on lap 29, and Gasly got past Raikkonen for P13. While the drivers and teams debated about the correct choice of tyres on this damp, slippery yet drying track, Leclerc decided to pit for a new set of intermediates on lap 31 rejoining in 9th. Raikkonen followed suit a lap later, but a slow stop cost him three positions, and he was down to 17th, the Finn going backwards after having started in the top 10. A mistake by Ricciardo allowed Sainz to move up to 6th, but the Australian immediately dived into the pits for a fresh set of intermediates. 

The battle at the front was hotting up with Perez reducing the deficit to Stroll to two seconds while Albon who was dropping back suffered a spin after losing traction into turn 4. Vettel and Sainz pitted for new intermediates on lap 34, but it was a slow stop for Vettel. The duo rejoined in 6th and 8th respectively. Gasly did likewise, rejoining in 16th after his pit stop. Red Bull decided to pit Albon on lap 35, the Thai driver rejoining in 6th while Magnussen retired from the race after a loose wheel ( after his stop ) brought him to a halt at the end of the pit lane.

Hamilton asked his team not to pit him as he tried to extend his stint on the old intermediates ( lap 35 ). Perez was now within DRS range of his team-mate when he got the call to pit on lap 36. Stroll rejoined in 4th, behind Verstappen who had pitted a few laps earlier due to his spin. Meanwhile, Hamilton got past Perez to take the lead of the race! Stroll started complaining about his tyres graining while Hamilton began to build a gap at the front. Further down the field, Gasly got past Russell for P14 on lap 37. 

Hamilton now had a 5 seconds lead at the front, and Norris set the fastest lap of the race on lap 39. Stroll, the driver who had led the race for more than half the race distance fell back into the clutches of the Ferrari drivers on lap 40. Vettel got past him for P4, but the Canadian tried to fight back, running wide in the process and losing 5th to Leclerc on the same lap! Raikkonen got past Russell for 15th as drivers started to hear on their radios that there could be more rain on the way!

Bottas suffered another spin at turn two while Grosjean had an off-track moment at turn 10. The Ferrari team-mate tussle on track led to Leclerc getting the better of Vettel on lap 41. There was further misery for Stroll when Albon relegated him to 7th and then Sainz to 8th in the space of two laps. Leclerc moved into the final podium position after Verstappen pitted for a new set of intermediates on lap 44 and rejoined in 7th ahead of Stroll. Albon lost 5th to Sainz who went on to set the fastest lap of the race on lap 45. 

Hamilton had started lapping the backmarkers, and it was his team-mate and title contender who fell a lap down on lap 46. Gasly then got past Bottas for P13 who pitted for another set of intermediate tyres on lap 48 and rejoined in 15th. The track was drying, but there were a lot of wet patches, but Hamilton and Perez soldiered on with their old intermediate tyres. Ricciardo and Norris went head to head, and Norris got past the Australian for P9. Ricciardo tried to fight back but ended up spinning ( lap 49 ). Verstappen had closed up on Albon in the battle for P6, and they were about to lap Raikkonen on lap 50 when the latter and Verstappen ended up spinning at turn 4. Albon was able to take avoiding action and got some respite from his sparring team-mate. Raikkonen made a third stop and stayed 15th while Grosjean retired from the race having suffered from spins and a coming together with Latifi.

Hamilton had run down his intermediate tyres, and they had turned into slicks, but there was still the threat of rain. Perez was in a similar boat as Hamilton, and Racing Point didn't want to give up track position. Meanwhile, Verstappen got past Albon for 6th, and Norris was setting blistering lap times in 9th. The McLaren driver caught up with Stroll and bagged P8 on lap 56. Mercedes decided to pit Hamilton on lap 56 for a "safety stop". The Briton was 25 seconds clear of Perez and would stay in the lead. However, he overruled the team's decision, opting to stay out!

The decision would prove to be a masterstroke as the rain stayed away and Hamilton took the Chequered Flag and victory at the Turkish GP! The battle for P2 saw drama on the final lap. Perez ran wide, and Leclerc got past him only for the Mexican to challenge him at the end of the DRS straight. Leclerc missed his braking point and ran wide which allowed Perez to retake 2nd and Vettel to jump up into 3rd! The four-time world champion bagged his first podium of 2020! Leclerc came home in 4th followed by Sainz who wasn't too far behind. 6th was the best that Verstappen could achieve at the end of the day followed by his team-mate Albon and Norris, the man who had won the point for the fastest lap. Poleman Stroll was a distant 9th with Ricciardo coming home in 10th. 

Ocon finished 11th in the other Renault followed by the Alpha Tauris of Kvyat and Gasly. Bottas, Raikkonen and Russell were the final classified finishers.

Hamilton had done a stint of 50 laps on the intermediate tyres while Perez had clocked 48 laps on his. The duo had run down their tyres to the level of slicks and driven a stellar race, worthy of top honours! 

It was win number 94 for Hamilton, but more importantly, he had won the Drivers' World Championship for a record-equalling 7th time! He was as successful as the legendary Michael Schumacher! Overcome by emotions on parc-ferme, the Mercedes driver took a couple of minutes to take it all in as the other podium finishers came over to congratulate him. Vettel, a driver for whom Hamilton has utmost respect, was gracious and classy as ever in his wishes. 

He wasn't the favourite for victory, yet Hamilton emerged victorious with a strategy that was championship-worthy. Such was his dominance on the worn tyres that he lapped his team-mate who was languishing in the lower half of the field having spun six times in the race. Perez put in a contract winning performance ( for 2021 ), and there is no doubt that he has the racecraft and experience to perform well if he lands a drive with a top team. His 2nd place helped Racing Point build a lead of 5 points to McLaren in the battle for 3rd in the ConstructorsVettel rolled back the years and once again proved what he is capable of despite the odds stacked up against him. 

The hunger showed by Leclerc to push right till the end augurs well for Ferrari, and the Monegasque is a prized asset to have for the future. Ferrari, the hunted became the hunter and now lie 6 points shy of Renault in 5th! Sainz was consistent as ever, and Norris brought in a good haul of points for a team that looked down and out at the end of Qualifying on Saturday. Verstappen would be keen to understand what went wrong in conditions that he is known to excel in while Albon had a decent outing as he fights to keep his seat at Red Bull. Renault got only a point this weekend, but they should consider this as only a blip in form. Alpha Tauri had a tough weekend while Alfa Romeo needs to understand why they went backwards in the race. Haas had another disappointing Sunday while Williams remained stuck at the back of the pack.

The 2020 F1 Season has three races remaining, the last triple-header in the Middle-East, in a fortnight. The Championships are done and dusted, but there is still a lot at stake. Bottas conceded defeat this year but vowed to try and beat Hamilton in 2021. He must begin his charge from the remaining rounds of 2020 if he wishes to reach the summit; that is what a Rosberg did!

Bring on Bahrain!