Bottas wins, Verstappen retakes F1 championship lead: Turkish GP lap-by-lap


Valtteri Bottas was the winner in Istanbul despite rain on race day making things tricky at the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas crosses the line to win the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix

Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

Valtteri Bottas was uncatchable in the Mercedes as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez consolidated a difficult weekend for Red Bull with a double podium, finishing second and third respectively.

Bottas led from lights out, losing the lead briefly after his pitstop before catching and re-passing Charles Leclerc for the lead.

Lewis Hamilton’s recovery from 11th was looking good for third until a late call by Mercedes for fresh inters dropped him to fifth place to hand the lead of the championship back to Verstappen.

Here is how the Turkish Grand Prix unfolded.

With the track fully wet, intermediates were the only option for the drivers, without enough standing water to warrant the full wets.

Officially the chance of rain was set at 20% for the race according to the radars but the low temperatures and lack of sunshine meant there was little chance of a dry line emerging before the opening few laps were completed.

Daniel Ricciardo brought the formation lap to a close after he took an engine penalty to start last on the grid.

Bottas aced his start to hold onto first with Max Verstappen slotting into second. Fernando Alonso was the one who lost out, spinning round after contact with the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly. Sergio Perez poked his nose down the inside at Turn 1 leaving no room for Gasly to turn into the corner, drifting into Alonso and tapping the Alpine round.

The Spaniard dropped down to 17th but wasn’t finished making contact. A clumsy look to the inside of Mick Schumacher spun the Haas into 19th place. Both Gasly and Alonso were handed time penalties later on for their efforts.

Lewis Hamilton made a decent start and was up to 9th as the first lap came to a close, rounding Sebastian Vettel at Turn 12 on the outside line. A quick look down the inside of Yuki Tsunoda at Turn 3 on the second lap didn’t quite pay off but the Mercedes driver was looking very punchy early on.

Multiple drivers were told to protect their intermediates and keep them cool with no rain falling but slicks some way off. Verstappen was told as early as lap 6 to keep his tyres in good shape and focus on protecting the front right.

Carlos Sainz was on a recovery mission from the back row and was up to 13th with a move on Kimi Räikkönen into Turn 12.


Bottas leads the field at the start of the race

Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

A great run out of the final chicane gave Hamilton a great tow down the front straight on lap 8 versus Tsunoda and the move for eighth was on. He set up a switchback three corners back to take the place around the outside at Turn 3 and into 4.

He repeated the move one lap later, securing seventh place from Lance Stroll on lap 9.

Gasly was handed a five-second penalty on lap 10 for his collision with Alonso on the opening lap but the Alpine driver was the recipient of his own sanction too for spinning Schumacher himself.

Lap 11 and Hamilton was up to sixth with a straightforward pass in the slipstream of Lando Norris into Turn 12, setting the fastest lap of the race at that time in the process. He was 19sec off the lead as he crossed the line, lapping a second quicker than Verstappen was managing in second place.

As Hamilton set consecutive fastest laps, there were very early signs of a dry line emerging on lap 13. Despite that, the Mercedes driver warned there was too much water on the track to begin considering a swap to dry tyres.

The other driver on the move was Sainz as he cracked the top 10 entering lap 14. A dive down the inside of Turn 12 gave him the place but a mid-corner snap of oversteer pushed him into the front axle of Vettel and resulted in minor contact between the two. Both continued but the four-time champion was less than impressed.

Hamilton was up to fifth place on Gasly in the same place on lap 15 with another slipstream pass without DRS enabled. The next car up the road was the Red Bull of Sergio Perez 7sec ahead.

On lap 16, Verstappen was informed that he’d managed the tyres better than either Mercedes driver and he could begin to push the pace. He was 3.4sec down on the leader at the start of the lap and was four-tenths quicker by the end of it.

Lap 17 and Sainz dived down the inside of Tsunoda to take ninth place from the AlphaTauri.

A snap of oversteer for Bottas out of Turn 1 on lap 18 showed just how hard he was pushing to respond to the pace of Verstappen. The Red Bull driver had the gap down to 2.6sec by lap 20. Hamilton’s progress had slowed and he was hovering around 17.5sec behind the leader as he gradually closed the gap to Perez ahead under the 4sec mark.

Valtteri Bottas leads and Fernando Alonso spins at the start of the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix

Gasly was penalised for first corner collision with Alonso

Dan Istitene/F1 via Getty Images

Ricciardo was asked what he could do on fresh intermediates and McLaren was the first team to fit a fresh set of the green-walled tyres on lap 22. The rest watched the Australian’s sector times eagerly to gauge the pace differential of new tyres.

Tsunoda’s difficult opening stint continued with a spin at Turn 9 on lap 23. He lost the back end of the car on a damp part of the track and it snapped on him, spinning around before rejoining.

Ricciardo’s first flying effort wasn’t good enough to secure the fastest lap as that honour went to Leclerc on lap 24.

Bottas and Gasly reported that there was drizzle falling at Turn 9 on lap 25 just to further complicate the picture for teams. Mercedes reported that no significant rain was expected but the tread on the intermediates was looking more like a slick tyre by lap 28 for the front runners.

Hamilton had the gap to Perez down to 2sec but a chop from Mazepin as the Mercedes attempted to lap the Haas driver at Turn 11 cost him time, the Russian apparently unaware the leaders were coming through.

Vettel put a move on Ocon to take 10th from the Alpine man on lap 29. The Aston Martin driver was asked if the track was likely to dry before the end of the race just past halfway to which he responded ‘Yes’.

Alonso was the second to pit for fresh intermediates on lap 32, rejoining down in 18th position.

Hamilton had the gap down to 1sec to Perez as the Red Bull drivers began to struggle in the middle sector of the lap. Bottas began to gap Verstappen to the tune of 4.5sec after the Dutchman had initially closed.

Ricciardo had made little progress since his stop for new inters but moved by Nicholas Latifi on lap 33 for 16th place.

With a tow onto the back straight on lap 34, Hamilton was able to get alongside Perez into the final chicane to set up a switchback opening lap 35. The two went side-by-side down the pit straight but Perez was late on the brakes to hold off Hamilton and keep fourth place.

Verstappen had fallen to 5.6sec back from the leader and was told to pit by Red Bull on lap 36. A rapid stop was good enough to get him back out in fresh air ahead of Perez and Hamilton.

There were plenty more takers for fresh inters including Sainz but it was a slow stop for the Ferrari driver, stuck stationary for six extra seconds. Vettel was the one to risk it on slick tyres, swapping onto mediums to be the only one on dries. His gamble didn’t pay off, spinning, running wide at Turn 3 and crawling around the track struggling for any purchase. He was back in for inters a lap later, almost hitting the barriers on pit entry.

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Bottas stopped on lap 38 along with Perez for the intermediates while Hamilton remained on track.

Leclerc was pushing and ran deep into Turn 12 on his worn inters trying to generate a gap to those that had pitted behind. He was 6sec clear at the front on lap 40, ahead of Bottas, Verstappen and Hamilton.

The Monégasque asked if he could run to the end of the race and was told by his team he could carry on without making a stop to the chequered flag. Bottas was six-tenths quicker on lap 40 on his fresh tyres though.

Hamilton was called in for inters on lap 41 but carried on another two laps. He was around 3.8sec behind Verstappen with the gap remaining stable while Perez wasn’t catching quickly behind, 14sec further back.

The Mercedes driver reported that slicks weren’t far away on lap 44 as a dry line began to emerge around more of the Istanbul circuit.

Another moment into Turn 12 for leader Leclerc dropped the gap to 3sec to Bottas behind and the Finn was rapid on his new tyres. On lap 45, Bottas was within a second of the Ferrari.

Sainz’s comeback continued at the expense of Ocon, taking eighth from the Alpine driver.

As Ferrari’s pit wall dithered on what to do with strategy, Bottas was by Leclerc for the lead of the race opening lap 46, moving down the inside into Turn 1. Leclerc was in for fresh inters at the end of lap 47. He rejoined in fourth position, 11.5sec behind Hamilton but just ahead of Perez.

Hamilton was losing around 1sec a lap to Leclerc behind and bailed on a no-stop strategy on lap 51, falling from third to fifth place to rejoin ahead of Gasly.

Perez nabbed third from Leclerc into Turn 12 with a nice tow into the corner to take third from the Ferrari driver on lap 52.

Hamilton was less than impressed having lost two places and was on a late charge with his fresh intermediates, lapping 3.2sec faster following his stop to catch Leclerc but suffering similar graining to the Ferrari driver ahead.

Gasly was closing in on the Mercedes driver in the final laps to compound his frustrations. The AlphaTauri driver was within a second of Hamilton at the opening of lap 55 with Norris a further 1.5sec back.

Ricciardo’s awful weekend got even worse on the penultimate lap, dropping behind both Alfa Romeos to 13th position.

Bottas ended up 13sec clear of Verstappen as he crossed the line to secure his first win of the season.

Verstappen retook the lead of the championship with P2 ahead of team-mate Perez. Leclerc was a further four seconds back in fourth while Hamilton managed to hold off Gasly to finish in the top five.

Norris followed the AlphaTauri driver in seventh with Sainz rising all the way to eight from the back. Stroll and Ocon were the final two in the top 10, the Frenchman the only driver to finish on the same inters he started on.


2021 Turkish Grand Prix results

Position Driver Team Time Points
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 58 laps 26*
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull +14.584sec 18
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull +33.390sec 15
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +37.814sec 12
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +41.812sec 10
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +44.292sec 8
7 Lando Norris McLaren +47.213sec 6
8 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +51.526sec 4
9 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1min 22.018sec 2
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine +1 lap 1
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo +1 lap
12 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo +1 lap
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1 lap
14 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri + 1 lap
15 George Russell Williams +1 lap
16 Fernando Alonso Alpine +1 lap
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams +1 lap
18 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +1 lap
19 Mick Schumacher Haas +2 laps
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas +2 laps

*Includes additional point for fastest lap