Valtteri Bottas won the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix at a damp Intercity Istanbul park on Sunday while runner-up Max Verstappen reclaimed the championship lead. The Mercedes driver claimed his maiden win of the season as well as the fastest lap of the race.
Verstappen, who now leads the drivers standings by six points over Hamilton, was followed over the line by teammate Sergio Perez in third place, making it a double podium for Red Bull at the Turkish Grand Prix.
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc finished the race in fourth after starting third on the Turkish Grand Prix grid and was followed by Lewis Hamilton in fifth. For Leclerc, who led the race for 10 laps, a podium was certainly within his grasp. However, a late call to change tires compromised his chances.
A similar strategy call by Mercedes cost Hamilton a possible podium finish, despite the Briton being quick all weekend at a circuit that favored him. The reigning seven-time world champion, who started the Turkish Grand Prix in 11th, could not finish higher than fifth as his team miscalculated his tire performance and pit strategy.
Alpha Tauri's Pierre Gasly was involved in an opening lap tussle with Alpine F1's Fernando Alonso. Although the Frenchman was slapped with a five-second time penalty for his role in the incident, he managed to surge back up the order to finish sixth.
The opening-lap incident at the Turkish Grand Prix unfolded as Alonso, who started fifth, attempted an ambitious maneuver around the outside of Gasly in Turn 1. The Frenchman, who was trying to leave room for Perez on the inside, ended up making contact with the Spaniard, sending him spinning onto the grass.
The double world champion collided with Mick Schumacher a few laps later and picked up a five-second time penalty of his own. He also copped two points on his license. It resulted in Alonso finishing 16th in the Turkish Grand Prix and outside the points.
McLaren's Lando Norris finished seventh, followed by Carlos Sainz, who started the Turkish Grand Prix from the back of the grid after incurring grid penalties for changing his engine and powertrain components. The Ferrari driver drove from P20 to P8 with some skilful maneuvers in tricky conditions.
Aston Martin's Lance Stroll finished ninth and was followed over the line by Alpine F1's Esteban Ocon, who finished 10th to round out the points finishers. In what many would call a mostly uneventful wet race, tire management, pit strategy and reading the conditions properly was key to nailing the perfect result at the Turkish Grand Prix.
As Istanbul is one of the last venues favoring Mercedes, fighting Red Bull Racing at the tracks ahead won't be an easy task for the reigning champions. In a closely fought season like this, it all comes down to capitalizing on the finest margins. Their strategic error involving Hamilton today might be one that they regret further down the line.
The current drivers standings have Verstappen leading by a total of 262.5 points, with Hamilton trailing in second with 256.5. Bottas maintains third place in the standings with a total of 177 points, followed by Norris in fourth with 145.
In the constructors standings, Mercedes lead with a total of 433.5 points and Red Bull Racing trail with 397.5. Behind them, McLaren are the best of the rest, with 240 points, trailed closely by Ferrari with 232.5 points.
The F1 circus will now travel to Austin, Texas for the United States Grand Prix weekend at the Circuit of the Americas between October 22-24, 2021.