Valtteri Bottas won the Turkish Grand Prix, ending a year-long winless drought after leading most of the race from pole position.Max Verstappen finished second to take a six point lead in the championship, ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who finished fifth following a late pit stop.
Rainfall earlier in the morning soaked the course with water, and light showers persisted throughout the day. All twenty cars started the race on the intermediate tyres. To their credit, it was a mostly clean opening lap – though not entirely without incident.
Pierre Gasly picked up a five second time penalty for avoidable contact with Fernando Alonso at the first corner. Alonso, who dropped to the back of the field after a spin, then picked up a five second penalty of his own when he hit Mick Schumacher and spun the Haas driver out.
All of the leaders were content to run their single set of intermediates, potentially as long as to the end of the race. That changed on lap 37, when Verstappen made a stop to switch to a new set of intermediates.
Bottas pitted from the lead on the next lap. Aston Martin even felt confident enough to send Sebastian Vettel out on a set of medium compound slick tyres, but the track was still far too wet for the gamble to pay off at all.
Charles Leclerc took the lead after Bottas’ pit stop. Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, and Esteban Ocon were the last of the front runners running on their first set of tyres. At the front, Leclerc began to haemorrhage time to Bottas on his worn set of intermediates, setting Bottas up for a chance to re-take the lead with a lunge up the inside of turn one on lap 47. Leclerc finally pitted at the end of the lap, and much to the seven-time world champion’s reluctance, Hamilton made his stop on lap 51.
Hamilton continued to protest the decision to pit with eight laps to go. He dropped into fifth place behind Leclerc, with Gasly gaining on him in sixth. Hamilton could not make any forward progress as he suffered with graining in his new set of intermediates.
Bottas, at the front, stretched his lead out to over ten seconds – and after spinning off five times in last year’s Turkish Grand Prix, he drove to a commanding first win of the 2021 season by 14.5 seconds; Verstappen finished second to take the championship lead, and the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez finished in third, for his first podium since the French Grand Prix.
Leclerc held on to fourth, ahead of Hamilton in fifth, Gasly sixth, and Lando Norris in seventh.
Carlos Sainz Jnr was voted Driver of the Day are completing his drive from 19th on the grid after a pre-event power unit change, up into eighth place. Lance Stroll finished ninth and Esteban Ocon, the only driver to run the full distance without stopping, held off Antonio Giovinazzi for the final point in tenth.
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2021 Turkish Grand Prix reaction
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