Turkish delight as Hamilton makes history with No.7

Date published: November 15 2020

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton overcame an early off to win the Turkish Grand Prix on a drying track, wrapping up title number seven and equalling Michael Schumacher’s record.

Arriving at the Istanbul Park expecting a dramatic race, Turkey delivered even before the formation lap got underway as the rain came down making the slippery track surface even trickier. Antonio Giovinazzi crashed on his way to the grid, breaking his Alfa Romeo’s front wing, but eventually managed to get out of the gravel under his own steam and take his P10 starting spot on the grid.

Shortly after George Russell crashed, breaking his Williams front wing when he hit the pit lane wall. He therefore started from the pit lane as did his team-mate Nicholas Latifi, who decided to change his set up to suit the wetter conditions.

Pierre Gasly meanwhile was sent to the back of the grid as AlphaTauri applied for an engine change only to realise it wasn’t needed. But, as the car was in too many pieces by then for the technical stewards to know what was going on, he was still penalised.

Despite the wet track, Race Control opted for a standing start with Lance Stroll on pole ahead of Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Alex Albon, Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton.

It was anything but a quick getaway as the drivers slipped and slid off the line with Stroll holding onto the lead ahead of Perez, Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Verstappen and Albon. Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon made contact with Valtteri Bottas spinning as he braked to avoid it, falling down the order to P19. Hamilton briefly slid off the track with Vettel, Verstappen and Albon all making their way past the championship leader.

Lap 2 and Stroll was leading by 4s ahead of Perez who in turn was 6s ahead of Vettel as the German was chased down by Verstappen with Albon keeping pace as the trio dropped Hamilton. Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, Carlos Sainz and Kevin Magnussen made up the rest of the top ten.

Two laps later Stroll’s lead was up to six seconds as he reported that it is “drying up”. Perez was eight up on Vettel who once again had Verstappen all over his rear wing after the Red Bull driver had taken a brief trip off the track. Sainz overtook Raikkonen for P8.

Charles Leclerc, down in 14th place, pitted on lap 7 for a set of intermediate tyres. Bottas asked Mercedes if he could also make an early stop, informing the team that he was “not going to be able to get through the train” ahead of him. He was P15 when he stopped, also going with inters. Vettel and Hamilton stopped on lap 9 with Magnussen, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Daniil Kvyat and Romain Grosjean also all coming in.

Race leader Stroll, 5s up on Perez, stopped on lap 10 with Perez up into the lead and Verstappen laying down a purple lap time.

Verstappen: “Let’s not go to early onto the inters.”

Lando Norris was next in followed by Perez. However, a problem with the front right meant it was a few seconds longer than his team-mate’s stop. Ricciardo followed the Racing Point driver in with Verstappen leading the race on lap 11.

Such was the pace on the inters that Hamilton, who had been P6 to Verstappen’s P4 prior to the pit stops and some 10 seconds behind him, could possibly undercut the Red Bull driver. He stopped at the end of lap 11 with the team also making a quick change to his brake duct. Verstappen came out behind Perez with Vettel and Hamilton right on his rear wing. Albon, having led for a lap, pitted on lap 12.

The running order after the first round of stops, lap 15: Stroll by 10s ahead of Perez, Verstappen, Vettel, Hamilton, Albon, Ricciardo, Sainz, Magnussen and Leclerc.

The VSC was thrown for Giovinazzi’s stricken Alfa. Suddenly slowing out on the track the Italian was forced to park his car on the side of the track.

Hamilton tried to pass Vettel but had no confidence in his brakes – “brakes aren’t working man” – and slipped off the track, allowing Albon to take fifth off him with the Red Bull driver then making short work of Vettel. At the same time Bottas had a spin, his third of the day.

Verstappen, looking at Perez’s rear wing, made his move on lap 18 only to try a move up the inside at the hairpin, and spin, slide and spin some more. “Flat spot, flat spot” he said as he pitted for fresh inters. He came back out P8. Adding to his misery the stewards announced that Verstappen was under investigation – post race – for crossing the white line at the exit of the pit lane.

As the track continued to dry, the drivers began to look for the wet spots to keep their inters alive. The track, however, was a “long way away” from being ready for slick tyres according to Hamilton. Stroll’s pace at the front began to drop with his 10s lead slashed by Perez who in turn had Albon all over the rear of his Racing Point.

Vettel in fourth was another who was finding pace on his worn inters, dropping Hamilton, but still some six seconds behind Albon. Ricciardo was running P6 ahead of Sainz with Verstappen eighth and being caught by Leclerc. Magnussen was still tenth. Just behind him in the battle for P11 Russell and Norris clashed with the Williams driver saying his good mate had “forced me off the road”.

Although many of the drivers, including race leader Stroll, reported high wear they were told to stay out as the teams waited for the perfect time to switch to inters. The track was still too wet in some places. Vettel, though, was loving it, closing up on Albon who was being dropped by Perez. Hamilton came along for the ride, the top five separated by nine seconds. Sainz taking sixth off Ricciardo as the Aussie slipped up at the chicane and ran wide.

Ferrari was the first to blink, putting new inters on Leclerc at the same time that Hamilton told Mercedes that he doesn’t believe the track will even change over to slick conditions. Raikkonen also pitted with Ricciardo the next in. With Leclerc three seconds faster than the race leaders, Ferrari pitted Vettel and had another issue and a long stop that cost the German. Albon spun, costing himself, and almost collecting Hamilton in the process. Albon pitted followed by Magnussen, the Dane stopping just beyond the pit lane before being pushed back in and rejoining the race.

Hamilton told Mercedes not to box him as he closed to within two seconds off Perez who was less than a second behind Stroll. The race leader was told he was about to go onto a new set of inters only to ask “why, why, why”. Racing Point stopped him on lap 37 with Perez taking the lead and Stroll coming out P4 behind Verstappen.

On lap 37 Hamilton took the lead, passing Perez through Turn 12, as he edged closer to a seventh Drivers’ title. Within three laps he built up a five-second lead over Perez while the previous race leader, Stroll, came under attack from Vettel. Trying to fight back he also lost positions to Leclerc and Albon, falling to P7. Leclerc made short work of Vettel, up to P4. Stroll’s woes continued as he also dropped behind Sainz.

Hamilton’s next pass was on Bottas as he lapped his team-mate, his lead over Perez up to 14s with Leclerc, having overtaken Verstappen, a further 12s down. Verstappen pitted for fresh inters, coming out P7. Sainz moved up fifth, passing Albon.

With 10 to go Hamilton was leading by 20s ahead of Perez with Leclerc seven seconds further back. Vettel, Sainz, Albon, Verstappen, Stroll, Ricciardo and Norris completing the top ten. Ricciardo spun as he battled Norris with the McLaren moving up to P9.

As reports that a few drops of rain were beginning to fall, Raikkonen spun with Verstappen, coming up to lap him, having to brake and also spinning. The spin didn’t cost Verstappen much time as he was quickly back into the action and passing Albon for sixth. Ferrari meanwhile informed Vettel that there would be heavy rain on the final lap of the race. It never came.

Hamilton took the win, his 10th of this season, his 94th overall, by almost 30 seconds, and in doing so equalled Schumacher’s record for the most World titles, seven.

Perez was second ahead of the Ferraris of Vettel and Leclerc, who made a late error, with Sainz P5 ahead of Verstappen and Albon. Norris was P8 while Stroll, despite leading the most laps, finished ninth ahead of Ricciardo.

Result

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2 Sergio Perez Racing Point 31.633s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 31.960s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 33.858s
5 Carlos Sainz McLaren 34.363s
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 44.873s
7 Alex Albon Red Bull 46.854s
8 Lando Norris McLaren 62.085s
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point 71.587s
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 94.510s
11 Esteban Ocon Renault 1 LAP
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 1 LAP
13 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1 LAP
14 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1 LAP
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1 LAP
16 George Russell Williams 1 LAP
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 2 LAPS

Did not finish

Romain Grosjean Haas
Nicholas Latifi Williams
Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo

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