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Formula 1

Winners and losers from the F1 Turkish Grand Prix

Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix was won in dominant fashion by Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez completing the podium. Who were the big winners and losers from Istanbul?

Column
To news overview © Olle Photos

Red Bull's Max Verstappen reclaimed the lead of the Drivers' Championship in Turkey, thanks to a second-place finish, while Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton finished in fifth after strategic drama.

RacingNews365.com takes a look at who were the winners and losers from the weekend.

The Winners

Max Verstappen

On a weekend where Red Bull were clearly second best to Mercedes in terms of pace, Max Verstappen still managed to come home in second, beaten only by the inconsequential Valtteri Bottas.

It's these kind of results, on weekends where the win isn't possible, that Verstappen has maximised – the 'damage limitation' aspect of his championship. As well as victories when the RB16B is the class of the field, they are what a successful championship bid is all about.

However, there are some concerns for Verstappen at this point. The Red Bull, yet again, simply didn't look fast enough to challenge for the win and, had Lewis Hamilton not served an engine penalty, it would have been a Mercedes 1-2 with Verstappen a very distant third.

With Mercedes' straight-line speed reportedly becoming an area of intrigue for Red Bull, it's crucial for Red Bull that they address their slight pace deficit, and fast. Many of the remaining tracks have sufficiently long straights to prove problematic if this current status quo continues. Especially if Bottas, normally quite easy prey for Verstappen, is able to slot in behind Hamilton as capably as he could have done in Turkey...

Sergio Perez

Another bad qualifying session from Sergio Perez, with the Mexican falling flat in Q3 after looking strong right up until the critical moments on Saturday afternoon.

But Perez more than made up for it on Sunday as he edged his way forward. While not able to match the pace of Verstappen ahead, Perez did the job that is expected of him as he first delayed Hamilton's progress when caught by the Mercedes and then proceeded to draw a line in the sand when Hamilton attacked.

"I am literally paid to slow you down," was the body language from Perez as he simply refused to acquiesce to Hamilton's advances through the final sequence of corners. Using the pit lane entry to position his car beautifully, Perez looked like he'd been beaten down the main straight but kept his nose in and would not brake until Hamilton did.

It was a perfectly judged fightback from Checo, and Red Bull immediately pulling him in after that in order to stave off any undercut threat from Hamilton was a masterstroke. A well-executed race from Perez, and Red Bull.

Valtteri Bottas

Bottas rose to the occasion when needed on Sunday. After a dreadful 2020 race in similar conditions that could almost be described as traumatic, Bottas banished the memories of that day by not putting a wheel wrong.

With Hamilton out of the way due to his penalty, Bottas controlled the race masterfully as he soaked up the initial pressure of pulling away from Verstappen.

It was a day where a single slip-up would have gifted the race to Verstappen, but Bottas didn't do so. It's curious that the Finn is occasionally capable of such displays, in contrast to the utter anonymity of his bad races like last time out in Sochi (a race he won with ease in 2020!).

This inconsistency has ensured that Bottas will never be regarded as one of the 'greats' of the current era, which is why he is off to Alfa Romeo next season, but there's no doubt that, on his day, he can be unstoppable.

Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc was quick enough throughout the Turkish Grand Prix to keep Red Bull well and truly on their toes.

Starting the race from third after finding his Ferrari to be mystifyingly fast in qualifying, Leclerc stayed within undercut distance of Verstappen for the first half of the race and inherited a strong lead when the Dutch driver and the leading Bottas pitted.

With the used Intermediates holding up well, it even briefly looked as though Leclerc staying out could prove to be a staggeringly good call as his lead initially stayed solid at around seven seconds. But, inevitably, the tyres slowly but surely faded away and Leclerc was powerless to stop himself from falling further back.

But, unlike Hamilton, Leclerc and Ferrari cried enough at a point where they could still salvage a result. From there, Leclerc simply had to keep it on the road and come home in fourth place. With Carlos Sainz also making a good recovery from the back of the field, it was another hugely encouraging weekend from Ferrari as they continue to keep third place in the championship in their sights.

Pierre Gasly

A quiet but hugely impressive race once again from Pierre Gasly, as the French driver converted his fourth place start into a sixth place finish, only overcome by the expected faster Red Bull and Mercedes behind.

Powerless to fight against Hamilton when the Mercedes caught him, Gasly had a largely anonymous race aside from that, although he did pick up a very harsh penalty at the first corner.

Gasly was adjudged to have taken Fernando Alonso out when the pair collided at the first corner, with Gasly himself unable to turn in properly due to having Perez alongside him. There was very little that Gasly could have done differently and, without the penalty, Gasly would have finished in front of Hamilton.

The Losers

Lewis Hamilton

On a weekend that should have been a comfortable win, things just didn't seem to fall right for Hamilton.

Taking pole position would have ensured a very easy Sunday for Hamilton, had he not been forced to start from 11th on the grid, which is something outside of his direct control, but his eventual fall from a podium finish was far more on his shoulders.

In his desperation to try, once again, to overrule the calls from the pit wall and continue, Hamilton wasn't able to see the bigger picture of the race as almost everyone else pitted for fresh Intermediates and took the pain of the graining phase. Having made it into third place, Hamilton could have and should have been in third with fresh Intermediates by around Lap 40.

This would have allowed him to try hunting down Verstappen over the remaining 15-18 laps. Had he managed that, victory would surely have been gifted to him by Bottas. So it was a huge own goal to try persevering and go against the grain on this occasion.

Of course, Hamilton has made the correct call in these situations before. It was a marginal decision at the point where the others were pitting and, on this occasion, it didn't work out. But it could have big implications for the title fight, and it's yet another weekend where 'Advantage Mercedes' failed to work out for Hamilton.

Fernando Alonso

Having managed to get his Alpine into sixth place in qualifying and a fifth-place grid slot, you'd normally put your house on Alonso getting a great result in such tricky conditions.

But, for once, it was Alonso who had a clumsy race. Attempting to go around the outside of Gasly at Turn 1 was risky, and that risk didn't pay off when Gasly was forced wide of the apex himself. While Gasly was perplexingly given the penalty for the incident, Alonso picked himself up and set about trying to recover from the back of the field.

He hadn't made it very far before there was contact yet again, as Alonso collided with Mick Schumacher while attempting an optimistic pass. Alonso held his hands up and apologised, but his race was doomed from quite early on.

Sebastian Vettel

An amusing roll of the dice from Sebastian Vettel on Lap 37, with the German coming in to fit the Medium tyre with 20 laps remaining while the track was still shiny with moisture.

Any outside chance of a points finish vanished almost immediately, with the track clearly not yielding enough grip for the slick tyres. Confusingly, Aston Martin also went for the Medium compound rather than the Soft, making Vettel's endeavour to generate tyre temperature even more difficult.

Watching Vettel trundle around and slide helplessly through some of the corners was amusing, although could have been dangerous through the high-speed Turn 8 as others encountered his much slower car.

In our latest RacingNews365.com video, we take a look at how grid penalties could be a crucial factor in the intense title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen

RN365 News dossier F1 2021 Turkish Grand Prix

The latest news about the Turkish Grand Prix straight from Istanbul.

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