Flawless Valtteri Bottas Claims First Win of the Season – Mercedes Blunder Costs Lewis Hamilton

Bottas Turkey 2021 Cele

A flawless Valtteri Bottas drive saw him take top spot from Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez

Bottas Victorious Ahead of the Red Bulls

After leading for the majority of the race, Valtteri Bottas secured a much deserved victory at Istanbul Park. He never looked under threat, keeping Max Verstappen at arm’s length for the majority of the race. The Dutchman couldn’t get any closer than two seconds to the Finn who will be relieved as he avoids a second winless season with Mercedes. A dominant race for Bottas, he was on pole due to Hamilton’s penalty, but converted that pole into a win!

Elsewhere, Esteban Ocon managed to get 10th place as he was the only driver who didn’t make a single pit stop all race. It was a day to forget for Sebastian Vettel, who took a gamble that didn’t pay off. He switched to a medium tyre with around 20 laps remaining, but had no grip and had to crawl through the lap before coming in again for a fresh set of inters.

It was a tough day for the drivers as the track barely dried out but there wasn’t much rain around. The intermediate tyres almost became full slicks with the amount of wear they had, given that many of the drivers went long on their first stint.

Valtteri Bottas Perfect Start

The five red lights saw Bottas get a good lead on lap one, getting away from Verstappen and avoiding any drama.

Elsewhere there was drama in the opening exchanges. Turn one saw Pierre Gasly sandwiched between Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso. Gasly clipped Alonso, who spun out on the right-hand side of the track. That resulted in the Frenchman getting a five second time penalty. Alonso also got the same the penalty shortly after, as he clipped Mick Schumacher in similar fashion.

Carlos Sainz started in P19 as Daniel Ricciardo took an engine penalty himself overnight.

Hamilton Hunting

For a while Lewis Hamilton showed himself to be the quickest on track as he charged up the field. He made up two places on lap one before pushing up the order further.

The Seven-Time World Champion got himself into third place in the closing stages of the race, with only Bottas and Verstappen ahead of him. Hamilton was looking at only losing out to Verstappen minimally after his engine penalty. It looked good for Hamilton who appeared to be holding onto his tyres for all 58 laps and wasn’t going to pit.

Mercedes Error in Strategy for Lewis Hamilton

With just seven laps remaining, Hamilton gave into his engineers and pitted. This saw him lose 3rd place to Perez, and also saw him behind Leclerc who was 4th. Hamilton was against coming in, knowing that the fresh inters would be overheating after a lap or two, causing him to struggle.

A possible explanation for him conceding to his engineers is because he wasn’t told he would’ve dropped the two positions. Lewis may have thought that he was going to come in for a free stop. Unfortunately for the Brit, he lost two positions and instead of being a point behind Verstappen, he is now six behind.

The Mercedes strategists were worried about Leclerc’s pace, who had come into the pits a few laps prior.

Both Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes can learn from the errors. They wanted Lewis in about eight laps earlier, but Hamilton stayed out. Had he come in then, he would have let the tyres overheat but then settle to allow a late push.

After Hamilton didn’t pit, there was no time for the tyres to settle in and you could hear the frustration in his voice, finding out he was P5. He told the team he should’ve stayed out. Leclerc and the others around were gaining on Hamilton, so it almost felt like Mercedes wanted to protect the P5 rather than gamble losing out further.

Mercedes React

Toto Wolff told Sky Sport F1 afterwards that Lewis had to come in because his pace dropped off on the old tyres, compared with those behind on fresher intermediates. He claimed in hindsight, they should’ve brought Hamilton in when the others around him came in and then fought for that P3.

Lewis Hamilton confirmed to Sky Sports in the media pen that he should’ve either come in earlier or just tried to stick it out on the old tyres, rather than come in for a pit stop when he did.

Flawless Valtteri Bottas Victorious

A perfect race from Bottas saw him retake the lead from Leclerc, who was yet to pit at the time, on lap 47. It will have been déjà vu for the Ferrari man, who was passed by the Silver Arrow of Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone late on in the race when again he was leading.

Valtteri took top step on the podium for the first time this season, and for the first time since Sochi 2020. He thoroughly deserved his victory today, leading for 49 of the 58 laps. Bottas also has the bonus point for firing in the fastest lap of the race.

Carlos Sainz – Driver of the Day

After starting P19, the scarlet red Ferrari of Carlos Sainz cut through the field in the opening exchanges of the race, it felt like he was performing an overtake every lap! He managed to make it into P8 at the chequered flag, a good recovery from the Spaniard.

Top Three React after a Flawless Valtteri Bottas Drive

Valtteri Bottas reacted by saying: “It’s been a while. It feels good. From my side, that’s one of the best races I’ve had. It’s not easy to choose the strategy here in these conditions. It feels like a well-earned victory.”

After securing P2, Max Verstappen had the following to say: “It was not easy today! I’m happy to finish second, in these conditions it would have been easy to get it wrong.”

Sergio Perez was on the podium for the first time in nine races and reiterated how difficult it was: “It was just one of those races to be patient. We didn’t really know what was going on with the tyres today. It was pretty hard to manage.”

Final Classification:

A flawless Valtteri Bottas drive was vital for Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship. However, in the Drivers’ Championship, Hamilton yielded his lead to Max Verstappen. Who leaves Austin next time out with the title lead?

Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images


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