- Lewis Hamilton wins sodden 2020 Turkish Grand Prix, to clinch a record-equalling seventh Formula 1 title
- Briton comes home ahead of Sergio Perez, as Sebastian Vettel claims first podium in over a year
- New track causes havoc, as Istanbul soaked over race weekend
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – After Lewis Hamilton sealed a record-equalling seventh Formula 1 title in Istanbul, what did we learn from the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix?
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Seven and counting for Hamilton
Records? check. Lewis Hamilton? check.
After becoming the most successful race winner in Formula 1 history last month at Portimao, the final piece in the 2020 jigsaw for Hamilton – that had been in the offing for some time – was finally completed, after sealing a record equalling seventh F1 title at the Turkish Grand Prix.
Drawing level with Michael Schumacher – once again – the 35-year-old has now won the Drivers’ championship for the last four years running, with few coming close to dethroning the dominant Briton.
His tenth win of the season however, was far from straight forward.
But almost to underline his sheer majesty, Hamilton displayed not only his car’s eventual class, but on this occasion, his track savvy and skills behind the wheel to out-think the field; his tyre management was sublime.
Having sealed the title with three races to go, Hamilton wins his latest crown at the earliest juncture yet and as F1 switches the Middle East for a three-legged finale in the desert, the remainder of 2020 could yet bring further examples of his monopoly on the sport.
Hamilton, however, will likely see a double header in Bahrain and the traditional season finale in Abu Dhabi – as he has done this, and every other campaign; just another three races.
Newly-laid track causes havoc
As F1 returned to Istanbul for the first time in nine years, its 2020 edition produced another chaotic race, of what has been an eventful term.
On a surface relatively freshly laid, the asphalt became the major factor, as an element not usually a precursor to the Turkish climate came into play; Rain. And lots of it.
Turning the Intercity Park circuit into more of a skidpan designed for safety testing, qualifying became an exercise in opportunism.
The race itself meanwhile, saw both the nerve and patience tested of all 20 drivers in the field.
Perez stakes his claim…
Racing Point meanwhile, after taking a 20-point haul at Tuzla, depart Turkish shores having moved into third place in the constructors’ championship, down in no small part to Sergio Perez.
As we stated in our preview, Turkey was set to be a chance for a numbers of drivers to state their case for one of the six remaining places in the Paddock next season.
After taking his first podium of the season, the Mexican has done just that.
2020 has been a rollercoaster year for the 30-year-old from Guadalajara, whose positive test for Covid-19 back in late July forced his absence from Silverstone earlier this summer.
Despite having finished inside the top seven on no less than 10 occasions this season, owner Lawrence Stroll has been considering a new face for his team next year, but his drive this weekend could yet force an about-turn.
…as Stroll left frustrated
After a season of controversy, Racing Point will then reflect, on their trip to Istanbul as another move in the right direction. Lance Stroll however, will be left ruing what might have been, after critical decisions went awry, together with enduring a healthy dose of misfortune.
After taking a superb maiden pole in the greasy and frenzied conditions, the Canadian galloped off the grid with teammate Perez on Sunday.
Leading the Mexican by over 10 seconds by the time both drivers had made their first stops to change from wets to intermediate tyres, graining on Stroll’s subsequent set then saw a sudden plummet down the field.
Ultimately finishing ninth, Stroll was left a hugely frustrated figure, having led by some margin and holding a chance of converting his P1 into a race win.
Reflecting on his first visit to Istanbul, as he told F1.com, Stroll was the voice of exasperation:
“I don’t know what happened. We had so much graining on the first set of intermediates that we decided to pit because we were just losing seconds a lap. I just don’t know where that graining came from, it just happened instantly.
“We started the race on full wets, then we put an inter on and I was quite far up the road… [The second set of inters were] new but just grained again, massive graining and no pace, so we’ll have to look into it. It was pretty terrible today.”
Ferrari wade through chaos
The Turkish GP was much less a case of motor racing, more Formula 1 on ice.
Through the standing water however, Ferrari rose from the mire to enjoy their best result of the season.
Scuderia have never had handling issues, more a sheer lack of performance this term, and this past weekend the Prancing Horse again showed its pedigree in the wet.
Ever since the divorce between Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari was announced, this season has been an uncomfortable campaign to negotiate for Team principal Mattia Binotto, but Turkey was a welcome reward after months of toil.
For Vettel, it is his first top three finish since Mexico last October, and perhaps the only low point for Scuderia, was seeing the man who will spearhead the Italian manufacturer next year, Charles Leclerc, lock up in the penultimate bend, allowing teammate Vettel to sneak in for third.
Nevertheless, two drivers in the top four this season will be a remedy for Binotto, as he plots his team’s way back into F1 in 2021.
The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix takes place in Sakhir, between 27 and 29 November
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