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2020 Turkish Grand Prix Blog

His team did it last time, this weekend it was Lewis Hamilton’s turn to etch his name into the history books with a seventh drivers’ title. Only one man has reached this milestone before, a certain Michael Schumacher, which puts into context how great an achievement it is.

The Grand Prix itself was far from predictable with a deluge of rain hitting the low-grip Istanbul Park circuit. If you had asked 100 people on Saturday morning who would be on pole, we don’t think anyone would have said Lance Stroll, but that is what happened as the young Canadian put in the best lap of his career with the Racing Point responding better than most in the conditions. Mercedes were well off the pace Qualifying in P6 and P9.

On Sunday there was no improvement in the weather. Predictably it was a tentative start, but some cars got away much better than others. Max Verstappen was noticeably slow, almost stalling as he crawled off the line. The two Renault’s fared much better jumping to P3 and P4 behind the two Racing Point’s. The real problems started at Turn 1 though with cars sliding around the corner. Estaban Ocon and Valterri Bottas both span off. There was also a lot of changes to the order of the chasing pack. Sebastian Vettel being the main beneficiary, finding himself in up into P4 from an eleventh place start on the grid.

This was a dream scenario for Racing Point, their car seeming to cope well in the wet conditions. Lance Stroll was able to build up a lead of around 10 seconds from teammate Sergio Perez once all the pit stops had been completed by lap 13. The weather eased though and with drying conditions the usual suspects were able to close the gap. It was the Red Bull cars who looked strongest at this stage of the race. Max Verstappen was all over Sergio Perez in their battle for second-place but the Dutchman was too impatient and attempted a pass at Turn 11 which simply wasn’t possible. Instead he crossed over into the runoff area, spinning dramatically and flat spotting his tyres in the process.

With Verstappen now down in P8, this was a golden opportunity for Alex Albon to prove himself. Racing in third and showing good pace, sadly he had a spin of his own, which put him out of contention. We have been critical of the young Thai-British driver in recent weeks, but this was one of his best drives of the season. Yes, he spun but in difficult conditions and at least he showed some fight in pushing his car to the limit. Albon reflected after the race: “It looked like we were on for the win but it was a strange race and finishing seventh is definitely confusing. We have been so competitive all weekend so today is a tough one to take.”

As the race progressed it became clear there was one more threat to Racing Point claiming an unlikely of victory. Sadly for then, that threat came in the shape of Lewis Hamilton who was lurking like a shark behind the two pink cars. He came out of nowhere but with the W11 now putting in its best performance, it was only a matter of time before Lewis reeled them in, and once he had the lead the result was never in doubt. It rubbed salt in the wound somewhat when twelve laps from the end Hamilton lapped his teammate Valtteri Bottas. This latest title clearly meant everything to him and when asked about reaching such a milestone, Lewis said: “I remember Michael winning those championships, and all of us drivers here are doing the best job we can, and just to get one, two or three is so hard to get. So, to get seven, is just unimaginable.”

Racing Point may feel slightly disappointed how things panned out, but a second-place finish is still a fantastic result. Sergio Perez said afterwards: “We’ve come close to a podium several times this year, so it’s great to enjoy the moment now with the team.” Congratulations to all involved.

Ferrari also enjoyed their best race for some time with the Scuderia drivers finished third and fourth. There have been rumours of a rift in the Maranello camp and Mattia Binotto comments on Vettel’s performance were well deserved and good to hear: “It’s particularly pleasing that Sebastian finally got into the top three. He drove a very strong race, especially that fantastic start.”

Next up we have a double header of races in Bahrain, the first on 29 November will be around the regular F1 circuit at Sakhir whilst the second race on 6 December will use the ultra-high-speed outer track. We are looking forward to that!