Most of what was expected happened when the F1 went down today at the Intercity Istanbul Park circuit. Hamilton started 11th thanks to a grid penalty, the weather was rainy as predicted, and, of course, Verstappen fought for the first position.
After a great qualifying where he came first, Lewis Hamilton started ten positions lower, and as hoped, Bottas was there to hold off Verstappen and other competitors. But in a twist of events, like it has happened in F1 recently, the 2020 world champion finished a significant fifth.
All had gone as Mercedes wished as Bottas gave Verstappen a tough fight, but a decision to change Hamilton’s tires in the final laps turned out wrong as it probably cost the 36-year old Briton at least a third-place finish.
It will be a consolation that Verstappen didn’t win, but him coming second behind Mercedes’ Bottas meant he got eight points more than a fifth-placed Hamilton. Verstappen now has a six-point lead at the top of the table.
Having raced his way through to fifth by the 15th lap from starting 11th, Hamilton looked like he was determined to finish even better as he was third on the 46th lap. But his side decided to take him to the pit, a decision he reluctantly adhered to.
The seven-time world champion came back in fifth and fought his way forward as he made ground to catch Leclerc, who had dropped from first, but the new tires somehow couldn’t keep up, leaving him barely hanging on to the fifth position.
Perhaps he wouldn’t have won if a decision to pit was not made, but Hamilton lost badly because of it and it wasn’t just about the race, it was about eight points and a championship standing.
Even with Bottas finishing first, Mercedes still lost the bragging rights to Red Bull, whose Verstappen and Perez finished second and third respectively, the former retaking their championship lead.