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Formula 1

How Bottas and Perez made their presence felt in F1's title fight

The two second drivers took centre stage in Turkey, delivering standout performances for Mercedes and Red Bull.

Article
To news overview © Mercedes

While all eyes are focused on the championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, Jolyon Palmer highlighted how Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez stepped up and delivered in Turkey.

After taking pole position thanks to Lewis Hamilton's grid penalty, Bottas drove relatively unopposed to claim his first win since last year's Russian Grand Prix. It was certainly a welcome sight for Mercedes, as the Finn's performance prevented Max Verstappen, who finished second, from taking maximum points.

Palmer noted that with Hamilton unable to challenge for victory, Bottas' and Mercedes' objectives aligned in Turkey, in what might have been his last opportunity to win in F1.

"This time Bottas was perfect, maintaining the lead off the line and then controlling a measured race from the front," Palmer wrote in his column for Formula 1's official website.

"It was important for Hamilton that Bottas won, but of course the Finn didn't need to be thinking about helping his teammate here – as he is leaving Mercedes at the end of the season, this may have been Bottas' last opportunity to win in Formula 1.

"With Toto Wolff clarifying in recent weeks that Bottas will indeed be asked to move aside on track if he leads from Hamilton in the championship run-in, it effectively means that Bottas can only win if Hamilton hits trouble – which he had before the Turkish Grand Prix weekend even began with the confirmation of his engine penalty.

"Conveniently for Mercedes, their departing driver didn't need any extra motivation to do the job for the team because in this rare occasion both the team's and second driver's objectives were aligned in a race Hamilton couldn't win.

"Bottas' victory therefore meant that Hamilton lost only eight points to Verstappen rather than 15."

"Perez was willing to risk everything"

As for Perez, who finished on the podium for the first time since the French Grand Prix, the big talking point from his race was his on-track battle with Hamilton.

The Mexican kept the Mercedes driver at bay despite battling for several corners on Lap 35. Perez was unwavering in his attempts to defend, even being pushed slightly wide at one point, with Palmer noting he drove with a different mindset compared to earlier races this season.

"While Bottas was keeping the smiles on the faces of Mercedes though, Perez put in a well-timed gritty drive as well, getting back onto the podium for the first time in eight races," Palmer added.

"But where he excelled most was in damaging Hamilton's race, something it seemed clear he was intent on doing by the way he fought to keep the Brit behind him, when a couple of times in battle it looked like the place was lost.

"As Hamilton caught Perez though he was met by a driver with a very different mindset. A driver who was willing to risk everything in their race to hold back a Mercedes which at that moment was clearly faster.

"Into Turns 12 and 1 Hamilton was almost a car length ahead by the braking zone when Perez sent it back up his inside on the wetter part of track to hold on, and while the Mexican was being squeezed off – all the way to the pit entry and even the other side of the bollard into Turn 14 – he kept his foot in and refused to yield.

"Often in Formula 1 these days it can feel futile when a driver is clinging on to a position for dear life against a car that is much faster and with a good chunk of the race to go, but Perez's fight was absolutely worth his while."

Bottas currently sits third in the Drivers' standings on 177 points, 42 more than Perez in fifth.

It's time for the latest episode of the RacingNews365 podcast, with F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Thomas Maher and Mike Seymour discussing Lewis Hamilton's strategy drama and much, much more from the Turkish Grand Prix.

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