Usually rain turns Formula 1 racing into a breathtaking thriller. Suffice it to recall the recent Russian Grand Prix, which definitely deserves the title of the most dramatic race of the season. But in Istanbul, everything turned out differently …
Seven races before the end of the season, the championship leaders arrived in Turkey with the difference of two points in favor of Lewis Hamilton. And given the fact that Mercedes has a worse car than their main rivals, the Red Bull, “black arrows” have no right for mistakes and should squeeze the maximum out of every race. Realizing this, the Mercedes does not risk replacing the entire engine and only replaces only the cylinder block for Lewis, which gives a fantastic additional 22 hp.
This is a huge advantage that should have dealt a serious blow to the positions of Red Bull and Honda. They just didn’t expect this from their rival. At the same time, Toto Wolff says that his team “is in better shape to fight Red Bull than before the summer break”.
In the Intercity park, the dominance of the Mercedes team was visible to the naked eye both in free practices and in qualification. Lewis took the pole, followed by his team-mate Bottas, and Max Verstappen showed third time. But due to the replacement cylinder block, Lewis was only 11th on the start grid.
The Mercedes team pined all their hopes on Bottas. Either the team understood that it will be very difficult for Lewis to cope with 4 Redbull cars. Yes, exactly four. Let’s not forget that there is still Alpha Tauri in the game, which looked very good at the Intercity circuit. Yuki Tsunoda does not hide that he really wants Max Verstappen to win the title, because this is the last year for Honda in F1. And he will do everything possible and impossible for this.
He really held back Lewis for a long time. Pierre Gasly still hopes for a second chance in the senior team and will do whatever the team tells him. Moreover, when his race was ruined by a 5 second penalty, there was nothing to do for him as work for Verstappen’s result. The main weapon of the Bulls, Cheko Perez.
That only is the most beautiful fight with Lewis on the 35th lap. The fight was wheel-to-wheel, one of the most exciting in F1 lately. Despite the total advantage of Mercedes, Perez did not flinch. Yes, perhaps Lewis himself realized that his fight could be regarded by the FIA as dirty, since at some point Cheko found himself in the area of the entrance to the pitlane, on the other side of the restrictive column outside the track. Lewis most likely returned Cheko’s position to avoid a penalty, but if there were no such moments in F1, the races would lose all entertainment and appeal for the fans.
The second reason why Mercedes made a bet on Valteri. Six races until the end of the season and Bottas’ career in Mercedes, a tight fight in the championship, and when such an opportunity arises, the team needs to make it clear to the second driver that he is no less important to them so that later he will also continue to work for the team, although he knows that the contract with him will not be extended and it makes no sense for him to work for the team’s purposes. Mercedes’ support and faith was justified. Valtteri had a fantastic unmistakable race with his 10th career win and best lap. And with such a fantastic speed Mercedes, which were 15-20 km / h faster than their closest rivals, there should have been two “black arrows» drivers on the podium.
But if not for the fatal mistake with tactics. Lewis did not go to the pitstop with everyone else, he took risks in the hope that the track will dry up and he will win. It turned out to be a failure. While Red Bull chose the right moment to change tires for Max and Cheko. Perez was ahead of Lewis. This decision brought Red Bull to a double podium, allowed him to pull himself up in the constructors’ championship and brought Max Verstapenn back to the top.
But even more deplorable was the Scuderia’s tactic, if Lewis’ podium was in the question. For Ferrari everything was in the hands. Lecler started from third position, kept pace with the leaders and it seemed that the team was so closed for the fifth podium in the season. If not for the same mistake in tactics as with Hamilton. Instead of drying up the track, the rain intensified. Charles, in theory, had a chance even to win. Of course, despite the pitstop hitch, a brilliant breakthrough from his teammate – Carlos Sainz. Ferrari reduced the gap from McLaren in the constructors’ championship to a minimum.
For many, the race in Turkey seemed boring and insipid. Of course, it was not rich in dramatic events, it became the most tactful race, here the teams had to think about actions on the go, no one knew how the slicks would work, how the weather would behave. There was everything that is meant by F1 racing.
Austin is two weeks away. Mercedes will also be strong, safely can be said that the circuit of the Americas is Hamilton’s territory, there the Redbull will have to jump over its head.
There are still many races ahead, where the bulls may be ahead, but only if they find a solution to how to reduce the power gap, which is now on the side of Mercedes. Otherwise everything is decided
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