2020 Turkish Grand Prix Star Performers

2020 Turkish Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Carlos Sainz Jnr were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Turkish Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Sergio Perez

Both Racing Point drivers had strong weekends at Istanbul. Perez gets the nod for ‘star’ honours for a couple of reasons: He was first to suss out the team’s advantage on intermediate tyres in Q3, setting a lead followed by his team mate, but had the misfortune to encounter Antonio Giovinazzi on his final flying lap. That cost him a front-row start.

He made a virtue of patience in the race, however. Perez eased his intermediate tyres in at the beginning of what turned out to be his final stint, and they rewarded him by staying alive to the end of the race without graining. It’s doubtful he could have kept Lewis Hamilton behind once the Mercedes driver latched on to him with DRS, but he showed a cool head on the last lap when he re-passed Charles Leclerc for a fully deserved second place.

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton took his seventh title in style
It’s a pity we don’t get to see Lewis Hamilton face this kind of adversity more often, as it tends to bring out the best in him. His performance wasn’t quite a “impeccable” as team principal Toto Wolff said after the race – he went wide on the first lap, losing several places – but from there on he had the blend of patience and speed vital to persevere in the uniquely challenging conditions. It was a day when several drivers could have won, and Hamilton once again prevailed.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel didn’t look as quick as his team mate, who reeled him in during the race. But he finished ahead thanks to a better qualifying performance, a superb start, and opportunistic last-lap re-pass. No wonder Charles Leclerc sounded fit to be tied on his radio afterwards.

Carlos Sainz Jnr

After a disappointing qualifying session for McLaren – aggravated by a costly penalty – Carlos Sainz Jnr bounced back in the race with an unobtrusively superb drive to fifth place. A few pre-race tweaks aided his cause, and the McLaren driver led the Red Bull pair home at the chequered flag.

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Nicholas Latifi

Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Istanbul Park, 2020
Latifi toiled in the Williams
The grip-less conditions were hard on all concerned, but Nicholas Latifi seemed to struggle most of all with the conditions. He spun off in qualifying and while his team mate made a decent fist of starting the race on intermediates, Latifi simply plummeted like a stone.

Romain Grosjean

While Kevin Magnussen was on the outskirts of the points, the other Haas was never in contention. The pair were separated by over half a minute at half-distance, following which Magnussen’s race was spoiled by an error at his pit stop.

Valtteri Bottas

Six spins in one race doesn’t quite say it all. Valtteri Bottas’s day was spoiled by damage, though it was incurred when he hit Esteban Ocon halfway around the first lap. His car was still quick enough to set the second-fastest lap of the race, as well.

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And the rest

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Istanbul Park, 2020
Leclerc berated himself for losing second
Leclerc was understandably frustrated with himself though fourth place was a good recovery following a gamble on an early pit stop which left him 19th.

Both the Red Bull drivers made mistakes in a car which potentially had the speed to win the race. Max Verstappen was quickest in every session before Q3 and spun twice in the race. It later emerged an error in his front wing flap setting had caused a handling imbalance. Alexander Albon also spun, and followed his team mate home.

The Red Bull pair also had dreadful starts from the (even more) dirty side of the grid, which was also true of Lando Norris, though he recovered to finish eighth.

He passed Lance Stroll, who started from his first ever pole position and led convincingly. His team say his huge mid-race drop-off in pace was a consequence of front wing damage which was discovered afterwards. This was a noteworthy drive which shortened detractors should acknowledge.

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Istanbul Park, 2020
Stroll shone in wet conditions again
It was a race of what might have been for the Renault drivers, who both made excellent starts, then tripped over each other at turn one. From there Ocon’s recovery driver to finish 11th behind his team mate was a credible performance.

AlphaTauri never got a grip on their cars in the foul conditions. Pierre Gasly had even more reason to be unhappy, as confusion over a power unit change on his car contributed to a grid penalty.

Antonio Giovinazzi compromised his build-up to the race by spinning off on his reconnaissance lap, then retired with a gearbox problem. But Kimi Raikkonen’s lowly 15th place indicated there wasn’t much to come from the Alfa Romeo in Turkey.

Magnussen deserved more following Haas’s pit stop error. George Russell also had a pre-race crash, and though he made a decent effort of starting the race on intermediate tyres, he dropped out of midfield contention as the track dried.

Over to you

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    25 comments on “2020 Turkish Grand Prix Star Performers”

    1. Stars: HAM, PER, VET, and SAI.
      Strugglers: LAT, BOT, and VER.

      1. I think Stroll deserves a star. Pole in nasty conditions, and led the race until a strategy error from pit wall.

        I know Perez was held up, but there is always something like that. Fact is the kid got pole and did the best he could until his fortunes changed.

    2. Hamilton, Perez, Leclerc, Vettel all star performers on the day.
      Verstappen, Bottas couldn’t do a thing right.

    3. Bottas’s day was spoiled by damage, though it was incurred when he hit Esteban Ocon halfway around the first lap. His car was still quick enough to set the second-fastest lap of the race, as well.

      The phrase ‘Bottas car damage’ must be on Mercedes PR’s predictive text. The fact he set the second fastet lap does suggest his problem was less the damage and more the fact he couldn’t get temperature in the tyres with all the spinning, a kind of horrible downward spiral. For Mercedes in particular, those tyres must have been on a performance knife edge. That’s why Hamilton’s performance was, yet again, so exceptional (and hence even better than Perez’s I think).

      1. LOL!! For that first line

        My thoughts too. I like Bottas, but like a defender who always scores an accidentaly own goal – its usually because there is a question mark about their ability

        It’s simply an error, keeping him for next season. Federer used to thrash his peers, like Andy Roddick and say nice things about them, just like Hamilton does about Bottas. New blood is needed to give Lewis some kind of challenge

        I mean more than a 100 points behind your team-mate in a car that’s arguably been more dominant than ever.

        Never mind Red Bull, Toto should give Bottas a nice pay-off and hire Perez. Then we’d actually see an even better Lewis Hamilton

      2. There was clearly damage if Bottas said his steering wheel was leaning to the left when going straight. He caused it but it looked like he damaged his steering a bit by that impact with Ocon. It will make the car more hard to drive and unpredictable, but not exactly slower. Explaining why he wasn’t exactly slow, but he just made loads of errors.

      3. @david-br there were photographs of Bottas in the opening stint on the wet tyres where you can see that, having broken the footplate off his front wing, it ended up getting stuck in the bodywork of his car – it’s similar to the issue he had with the Ferrari endplate that he hit in Imola, although not quite as large a piece of debris.

    4. “Magnussen deserved more”.

      Finally he had the conditions to show ability far beyond the Haas racer but had his qualifying destroyed by following the rules and the stewards penalizing only two of the eight cars that kept the pedal down and overtook him during the double yellows.

      As the best starter on the grid by far and again in tricky conditions he drove back up to 8th and stayed ahead of much faster cars for a long time until the incompetent team destroyed his race.

      Other reputable F1 sources credited his drive with a character of 9.5. You gave him a footnote.

      Now a driver who’s exceptionally much stronger than his team will be replaced by a driver who’s exceptionally weaker than the team. Good luck Haas!

      1. @OmegaWave The Stewards didn’t penalize the rest (Bottas, Kvyat, Stroll, Perez, Hamilton) because they acted accordingly under the double-waved yellows caused by Latifi (although so did Norris and yet he still received for something that was used as a reference for justification in Stroll’s Q3 case.)
        ”At the request of the Race Director the stewards reviewed an incident during Q1 at 16:07 at turn
        eight under a double yellow flag, to ensure that all drivers involved acknowledged the double yellow
        flag and reacted appropriately under the regulations. Car 20 (Kevin Magnussen), Car 77 (Valtteri
        Bottas), Car 26 (Daniel Kvyat), Car 18 (Lance Stroll), Car 11 (Sergio Perez) and Car 44 (Lewis
        Hamilton) went past the incident and a review of their telemetry and timing data showed that they
        acted as required by the regulations.”
        – The Stewards have access to the telemetry of all cars, so they know whether a driver has kept the pedal down (and or overtaken other cars) under yellow flag conditions.

      2. I think many could argue that Stroll is as good or better starter than Magnussen. Although I think both are about the best this year.

        1. Historically Stroll’s qualifying is not great so he often starts behind cars that are slower than his imo.

          1. @slowmo

            The start and first lap is somewhat irrelevent to car performance. It is related to driver skill, warm up and the launch that makes the difference an this is one area I think Stroll excels in. at least 3 times this year that Perez outqualified him, Stroll out launched him which in several races allowed Stroll to finish ahead. Even in Russia when he was indeed underwhelming in qualifying, both him and Perez didn’t have a great launch and lost some places, but then Stroll gained 8 or so places in just 2 or 3 corners as he was opportunistic and seemed to have more grip than anyone around him. This is not car performance related and more his own performance.

            Overtakes later on in the race when you start in a quick car and are near the back are not as impressive. But it isn’t even that often that you see the leaders get a start that is just miles better than those in the first 2 rows. So I do think both Stroll and Magnussen have something special about the way they get their tyres warmed up as they frequently manage to get better starts than the rest a lot of the time.

      3. OmegaWave, you are incorrect to say that Magnussen is “the best starter on the grid by far”.

        The statistics for places gained on the first lap just before the Turkish GP put Giovinazzi significantly ahead of Magnussen – he has gained almost double the number of places at the start as Magnussen has this season (a cumulative gain of 45 places for Giovinazzi versus 24 for Magnussen). Magnussen is still quite high up, but by that same metric you should also be singing Latifi’s praises as well – after all, Latifi had a cumulative gain of 19 places at the start over the season, putting him just behind Magnussen.

        For reference, in this race Magnussen made up only 3 places on the opening lap – although he gained places on the first lap, Vettel, Sainz, Kvyat and Gasly all outperformed him in that regard. Vettel gained 8 places (11th to 3rd), Sainz 6 places (15th to 9th), Gasly 5 (taking into account Latifi starting from the pit lane, he effectively went from 18th to 13th) and Kvyat 4 places (16th to 12th).

        You also seem to have watched a different race to everybody else when you claim that Magnussen “drove back up to 8th and stayed ahead of much faster cars for a long time” – because the timing data shows Magnussen was never recorded as crossing the line in 8th place at any point in that race.

        Before the pit stop issues, this is where Magnussen was ranked when he crossed the line in the laps leading up to that stop:
        Laps 1-8: 10th place
        Lap 9: 11th
        Lap 10: 10th
        Lap 11-12: 9th
        Lap 13-26: 10th
        Lap 27-34: 11th

        I don’t know where you got the idea he was running in 8th, because that is flatly contradicted by the timing data – he spent most of the opening stint in 10th or 11th.

    5. Vettel’s and especially Grosjean’s paragraph seem a little too focussed on their team mates drive.

      There is nothing explaining that Grosjean was “struggling” at all. Rather saying that magnussen was racing just outside the points which is more of a good thing for him than an especially negative thing for Grosjean. Then goes on about the distance Magnussen was ahead and that his race was ruined by the pit stop error. This is meant to be about Grosjean struggling, not giving a conclusion of Magnussen’s race isn’t it? I will admit Grosjean struggled, but why didn’t his actual position get mentioned as well as his spins and contact with a williams and then retiring a result. By the way this has been written, it sometime looks like Grosjean just needs to be put on the strugglers list without giving a very good reason. He has a good reason this time, but that wasn’t really explained.

      While I think Vettel is certainly a star, the fact that he was significantly faster than Leclerc at the start wasn’t mentioned and was nearly 30 second behind after 6 or so laps before Leclerc pitted. Leclerc does get mentioned for being faster than him though later on, which is correct. If Leclerc is getting included in this comparison, there were more that was impressive about Vettel’s weekend that I think could have been included, such as the 1.5 second gap in qualifying he had over Leclerc. While this looks to be a positive and is indeed about Vettel, the overtake on Leclerc wasn’t really oppertinistic. Leclerc went too deep due to his lock up, and Vettel took the normal racing line and followed behind Perez. I’d say the fact that he was incredibly nearly got past Perez may have been a slightly better thing to mention.

      I’m not normally that critical of the articles here, but these two paragraphs don’t really describe exactly what you would expect based on what they usually do.

      1. @thegianthogweed I do agree that both of those paragraphs felt like pretty backhanded comments about the performance of those drivers, and in the case of Magnussen more a case of using it to take a jab twice at Grosjean rather than saying that much positive about Magnussen.

        Where were the comments about Vettel’s performance in the opening stint, where he was running in 3rd and resisting the pressure that Max was putting on him during those laps? I would have thought that was worthy of a mention, given how most would have made jokes about expecting him to bin it under that pressure and in those conditions.

        Similarly, when you look at the timing data, even when Leclerc did get past Vettel, he didn’t pull that far ahead. The most that the gap between Vettel and Leclerc was in the latter part of the race grew to was about 5.5 seconds, before Vettel progressively cut that back down to about 2 seconds on the penultimate lap – so, to some extent, even though Leclerc might have caught Vettel, Leclerc’s pace kind of stagnated after that and Vettel was able to keep reasonably close to him after that.

    6. Not to much wrong with these picks. Think its a bit harsh for some to call Verstappen a struggler as he had a bad race and didn’t get what the car deserved from it but the conditions were pretty bad and there was little preparation possible for them. Had he crashed out or scored nothing then that would be fair enough.

      1. Actually, Verstappen did 3 pit stops and he still got ahead of Albon, who did two. So, If Verstappen was a struggler, then Albon too…

        Anyway, for me Vettel and Perez (and perhaps Magnussen) are the (slow)stars of this grand prix. The other drivers just did many mistakes at some moment during the race weekend.

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        17th November 2020, 2:27

        @slowmo there’s no way to sugarcoat it – this was simply not a good race for Max. He didn’t do much wrong but it ws enough to send him backwards. He’s probably the most disappointed in himself as these sort of races are great at separating the men from the boys.

        1. I think this is a silly comment…
          Germany 2019, who were the men then, and who were the boys?

          1. @johnever Yes that is a silly comment. Surviving a spin in 2019 doesn’t mean anything for him not really surviving a spin in 2020

            1. Max kept it on the black stuff Germany 2019 even with a spin, a lot didn’t…some even lost it more than once, you know who
              now it was the other way around, without some willing to admit it.
              Boys and men, then men and boys? 😄😉

    7. There’s should be a worse category other than struggler for Bottas. Lewis & Perez once again showed the rest of the field that understanding tyres better than their own team is crucial.

      1. As another article explained, while Bottas was the cause of his damage, damage will have been what made his car tricky to drive and then spin many more times. The first spin wasn’t even his fault really as he had to take avoiding action to not hit Ocon. With his steering out of alignment, as I explain further up, his speed may not necessarily have been effected, explaining his 2nd fastest lap, but his car will have been very tricky to drive with unpredictable positioning of the steering wheel. Given his damage, it wasn’t that much of a surprise that he had a hard time recovering.

        Bottas was a struggler this weekend, but after that incident, that isn’t really a surprise so I wouldn’t say he was worse than that.

    8. This race shall forever be best known, for the race that bit the young pretenders on their inexperienced rears!

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