Valtteri Bottas took a dominant victory at the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix for Mercedes. In the tricky and damp conditions, Bottas started from pole after Hamilton took a grid penalty for a new engine. Behind Bottas, the two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez claimed double podium after a sensational drive by Perez.
On a damp afternoon at Istanbul Park, the track conditions were soggy. All drivers started on the intermediate tyres on the moist track, but the wet conditions despite it not raining during the race meant that the intermediates would be the only tyres to be used. Bottas started from pole with Verstappen alongside him on the front row. The Finn got the perfect start and led the pack into turn 1. Verstappen was second with Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari following him in third.
Hamilton, who started the race from 11th, took a good seven laps to get past a feisty Yuki Tsunoda in the AlphaTauri. But once the move was made, by lap 11, Hamilton climbed up the order and into the top five.
Verstappen pitted on lap 37 from P2 as Bottas followed him the lap after to defend the undercut. This allowed Leclerc to take the lead. However, the Ferrari was going long on his first set of intermediate tyres. Perez, running ahead of Hamilton pitted on Lap 38, thus promoting the defending championship a step closer to the podium.
With 10 laps to go, Leclerc started to lose pace allowing Bottas and Verstappen to get past on fresher tyres. Leclerc dived into the pits for fresh tyres to control the damage.
Hamilton was also running long of his first sets. But the Brit refused to pit for fresher rubber. Leclerc pitting put Hamilton into third place. Hamilton kept radioing in saying he is comfortable. Yet, the team called him in to stop. With a handful of laps to go, Hamilton dropped down the order but of fresher tyres. However, the fresh tyres started to grain and he started to lose pace. Hamilton was unable to climb up the order any further and settled for fifth.
It was a similar story with Leclerc upfront as Perez was closing in on him. Perez got past Leclerc and into the final podium spot.
Bottas took the chequered flag claiming his first Grand Prix victory since Russia last year. The Finn also took the fastest lap of the race to claim the extra point. Verstappen finished a lonely second with Perez taking third for a Red Bull double podium.
Leclerc finished fourth for Ferrari ahead of Hamilton. Gasly, Norris, Sainz, Stroll, and Ocon were the final five drivers who scored championship points.
Max Verstappen has now retaken the lead in the driver’s championship. He is now six points ahead of Lewis Hamilton as the next round will take place in Austin, Texas for the US Grand Prix.
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