Bottas wins in Turkey as Verstappen retakes F1 lead

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas celebrates with the trophy on the podium after winning the race at the Intercity Istanbul Park, Istanbul, Turkey October 10, 2021. — Reuters pic
Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas celebrates with the trophy on the podium after winning the race at the Intercity Istanbul Park, Istanbul, Turkey October 10, 2021. — Reuters pic

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ISTANBUL, Oct 10 — Valtteri Bottas ended his year-long drought with a dominant victory in Turkey today while unhappy Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton finished fifth and lost the Formula One championship lead to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Verstappen, 24, was runner-up and 14.584 seconds behind the Finn at a wet Istanbul Park to overturn a two-point deficit to Hamilton and walk away six points clear with six races remaining.

Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez finished third with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc fourth and ahead of seven-times world champion Hamilton, who had started 11th due to an engine penalty.

“It’s been a while, but feels good. I think from my side probably one of the best races I’ve had ever,” said Bottas, who started on pole position and was never threatened.

“Apart from that one little slide, everything was under control.”

The victory was the Finn’s first since Russia in September last year.

Verstappen, who started on the front row, had a quiet race and said it had all been about tyre management.

“I’m happy to be on the podium. I think it’s been close the whole year and I’m pretty sure in Austin it will be a good battle with Mercedes, so we just have to keep pushing, keep trying,” he said.

The U.S. Grand Prix in Texas is the next race on Oct. 24.

Hamilton might have also been on the podium but Mercedes called him in, against his judgement, for a late stop from third place for a fresh set of intermediate tyres with the track drying.

“We shouldn’t have come in man. Massive (tyre) graining. I told you,” said the angry Briton in heated radio exchanges as he realised he had lost two places in the pits.

He pointed out afterwards that Alpine driver Esteban Ocon, who finished 10th, had managed to make one set of tyres last the entire race.

Had he stayed out and kept third, Hamilton would be only a point behind Verstappen.

“We thought we could finish third without stopping or, if a dry line emerged, maybe going to a soft tyre,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

“Then we saw Leclerc dropping off and Lewis was dropping off and it was clear we wouldn’t make it to the end.”

Spaniard Carlos Sainz was voted driver of the day for going from the back of the grid, due to power unit penalties, to eighth for Ferrari.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was sixth with Lando Norris seventh for McLaren and Lance Stroll ninth for Aston Martin. — Reuters

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