NASCAR Race Weekend Central
Lewis Hamilton (Photo: ©Rolex/James Moy)

F1 Review: Lewis Hamilton Makes History in an Improbable Turkish Grand Prix

Despite qualifying in sixth place, his worst start of the season, Lewis Hamilton was able to win again and cement his place in the F1 history books.

With his win at the Turkish Grand Prix, Hamilton picked up his seventh World Drivers Title, putting him on par with Michael Schumacher, who Hamilton passed in wins earlier this season at Portugal. The Brit has been better than dominant, he has been straight up in control of Formula One for the better part of seven years.

This win in Turkey marked Hamilton’s second win at the track and his 10th win of 2020. How did he get here? Well for once, Hamilton had a challenge to get to victory this time.

After his sixth-place effort in qualifying, Hamilton was forced to watch as Canadian Lance Stroll snatched the pole away from Max Verstappen. While some say Hamilton has had all the luck in 2020, it seems Verstappen has had none, if any.

On the first lap of the Turkish Grand Prix, Hamilton was able to jump up the grid significantly. As Verstappen bogged down, it allowed Hamilton to jump to third place in the first corner as Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas took each other out.

It seems there is nothing more heartbreaking for a Hamilton hater than seeing a Mercedes car having trouble and then noticing that big No.77 on the side.

Bottas needed a good finish in order to have any chance of halting Lewis’ charge for seven, and as fate had it, Bottas probably had the worst race of his life. Spinning a handful of times and finishing 14th, the lowest finish of the season that wasn’t a retirement, Bottas’s struggles exemplified the horse shoe that Hamilton seems to possess.

As Stroll continued to lead the race, he eventually suffered from the exact opposite of what got him the pole on Saturday. His tires just had no grip whatsoever, struggling to keep the car straight on the Intermediates. While Stroll was handing the lead to his teammate Sergio Perez, Hamilton once again played a perfect pit strategy, going on to pass the Racing Point on lap 37.

I assume the entire world minus Hamilton’s supporters did a collective eye roll.

After pit stops, Hamilton was just unstoppable.

Dropping a gear and disappearing, that was the last any other driver saw of Hamilton. Gapping the field by around 31 seconds come the checkered, another F1 race played directly in the palm of Hamilton and Mercedes.

In the end there were some celebrations, as Perez and Sebastian Vettel found themselves on the podium for the first time this season.

A few other notable finishers included Charles Leclerc in P4, Verstappen in P6, Stroll in P9, and Bottas in P14.

The Good

  • Michael Schumacher said in 2008 that he believed his record could one day be broken. When asked by a reporter, Schumacher had eluded that nobody thought he could eclipse Fangio at 5 world titles. Why was it so hard to think someone could beat him one day? Records are made to be broken, and Hamilton is on the verge of doing that: cosing on on 100 career race wins, beating Schumacher’s records for race wins, poles and points finishes in the process. While Schumacher’s championship record still stands, with the way Hamilton has been driving, expect a changing of the guard in 2021.

  • For Perez, 2020 has been one kick to head after another. Losing his already contracted ride to Vettel, being diagnosed with COVID-19 during the Silverstone weekends and not really knowing what his career holds for 2021 are just a small taste of what Perez has had to deal with. In Turkey, the tides finally changed. With the Racing Point’s vehicles being among the cars to beat this week, Perez capitalized after teammate Stroll faded back. When the dust settled, Perez claimed career podium No. 9 and first since 2018.
  • Taking the third step on the podium was Vettel. The Ferrari driver seems to just been riding out this 2020 season in his underpowered Ferrari, waiting until he can join Aston Martin next year. The Vettel we have seen in 2020 isn’t even close to the Vettel we saw in 2019. Nonetheless, taking advantage of a slip up by his teammate, Vettel found himself back on the podium for the first time since Brazil last year. Seeing Vettel back on the podium shouldn’t been such a rare sight, but after the season Ferrari has had, you can’t help but smile.

The Bad

  • Never in my life have I ever seen a driver waste the equipment he has been given more than Bottas. Driving in pretty much the same car Hamilton has, Bottas has been laughable behind the wheel at Mercedes. Yes, I’m aware he was brought in to make sure he stays out of Hamilton’s way, but this is racing after all. Bottas’s 14th-place finish in Turkey showed why he isn’t going to become world champion anytime soon. Coupled with his drives in Italy, Germany and Britain, Bottas must be on a thin leash over at the Silver Arrows. Hopefully he can clean up his act so Hamilton has at least a little competition.
  • Poor Stroll. Finally gets his first career pole position and actually seemed competitive. After bad pit stops and his tyres failing to get grip, Stroll ended up in P9. While to be clear, this wasn’t Stroll’s fault, it is still disheartening to see Stroll struggle on what should’ve been his time to shine. He seemed to have the car to beat, but sadly his Racing Point team couldn’t play strategy well enough to get him the win.
  • Finally the heartbreaker of Leclerc. Looking to match his best finish of the season, Leclerc let it all slip away on the last lap. Running second with two corners to go, Leclerc slipped off the the racing line and allowed both Perez and Vettel to get around him. The post-race reaction from the crestfallen Leclerc was especially tough to listen to given the incredible results he achieved in his underpowered Ferrari cars.

Quotables

  • Stroll started on pole but sunk back in the field to P9 after dominating the early portion of the Grand Prix. Having the car to beat Stroll was confused after his puzzling result.

“I don’t know what happened — it’s just … I don’t understand,”  he said following his ninth-place finish.

“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.”

  • Leclerc was inconsolable after his last lap blunder made him lose a podium position. The Monegasque driver was still amped up during post-race media interviews, sparing nothing in the process.

“I did a **** job. I am so sorry to the whole team, I am ****** stupid.” Leclerc said on the radio to his team.

“Unfortunately in the last corner, nothing to say, in the last three corners. In the end, the end result counts. I was good for one part of the race but **** when it matters and that’s it. Fourth. I’m so disappointed.”

  • Perez was in a chipper mood after finish P2 in Turkey. The Mexican needed some positive vibes and this time he finally got them.

“Now it’s a great result for the team and still,” Perez said. “We were so close to losing it all with the Ferraris coming really strong. Holding onto those tyres was the big challenge, and yeah, it was just about time to end the race for us. A great result, a lot of points for the team and I’m very pleased with that.

“The vibrations were extremely bad towards the end” Perez added. “But I think it also made our race because looking after them in the beginning, [helped] towards the end, when in drying conditions, I think the team did a fantastic job in terms of strategy, reading the race.”

  • Finally, Verstappen. Unlucky in qualifying and unlucky in the race. The Dutchman is eager to move on from today.

“Yeah it’s just very frustrating, to be honest,” Verstappen said FTER race. “I tried to follow Checo [Perez] through that kink, and then suddenly I just massively washed out, you get onto the green bit — big spin — trying to keep it out of the wall. Of course, I flat spotted the tyres.

“Around here there’s only one line in the dry and in the wet so you have to follow them exactly. It’s just driving in a train to be honest. It was just a very annoying, frustrating race — it was definitely one to forget.”

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About Alex Gallacher

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Alex has been writing in the motorsport world since he was 19. Starting his career with the NASCAR Pinty's Series, Alex's work has been featured in Inside Track Magazine, TSN & NBC Sports as well as countless race programs. Alex has also worked within the junior hockey world in Canada, appearing as a desk host for the OHL's Barrie Colts. He also got the opportunity to cover the 2018 Chevy Silverado 250 which appeared as the headlining article on NASCAR.com.

One comment

  1. Avatar

    Formula One is the most over rated auto racing sport in the world. It’s all about the car. Nothing against Hamilton but he’s in the best equipment out there. Schumacher is a prime example. Look how he did after he left Ferrari. I could never understand why so much money is spent to lose races year after year by so many people. Haas is a good example. Hardly even gets a podium finish but spends millions to lose.

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