2021 Turkish GP: Victorious Valtteri!

The 2021 Turkish GP was a far cry from the high drama of last year, with the race being quiet in nature and without a whole truckload of drama. For the first time this year, Valtteri Bottas won a race, and he did so in what I can only call quite dramatic fashion! Max was P2, while Sergio took only his third podium of the season with P3.

Image Credits: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.bottas-holds-off-verstappen-and-perez-to-claim-first-win-of-2021-in-damp.1tbLAnjh7AKP9ZGslpC7gT.html

Lewis made his way up the field, but got stuck in P5 at the end. A driver who absolutely carved his way through was Carlos, who shot up the field from 19th to 8th at the flag- a remarkable drive. Ferrari messed up Charles’ strategy and Aston did the same to Seb. Let’s wait no further, and dive straight into the events of the race!

The Events Of The Race

The race start was a bit tentative like last year’s start, but Valtteri got away quite well. Perez, Gasly and Alonso went into Turn 1 quite close to one another, and then as inevitable as it was, Gasly made contact with Alonso, spinning him out and sending the Spaniard tumbling down the order.

Fernando was eager to recover, but possibly a bit to eager as well, as he took out Schumacher on Lap 2 while attempting an overtake. Further back, Lewis was making up fantastic ground quickly as well, passing many cars with ease. Tsunoda kept him at bay for a few laps, but eventually Lewis got past him as well.

Sainz started 19th, and also started clawing his way back up the field with rapid pace. He made some amazing passes, though the one on Seb was a bit touchy to say the least! Both made contact, but thankfully nothing happened damage-wise.

The race stabilised from then on, with Lewis moving upto P5 and having a bit of a task on his hands to catch up to and then pass Checo. They had what was undoubtedly the best side-by-side battle of the race, with Checo coming out on top after an enthralling battle!

The only car who pitted early was Ricciardo, with everyone else holding off their pitstops till a later stage in the race, post lap 36. Once the pitstop phase was majorly completed, it became obvious that there was a slight re-shuffle in the order. Red Bull’s quick stop for Max turned a few heads though!

Lewis and Leclerc had opted to stay out longer, while Aston pitted Seb and put him onto dry tyres on a wet track! The German struggled, and came back into the pits and fitted a new set of inters, which relegated him to a lowly 18th, where he would finish the race. Ocon, meanwhile decided to not stop at all!

Charles and Lewis’ gamble didn’t pay off, the Monegasque going from a net P3 to a P4, while Lewis went from a net P4 to P5, and suffered from graining in the final few laps as well. He almost fell into Pierre’s clutches, though held onto P5. Perez passed Leclerc to take the final podium spot in the final few laps as well.

Valtteri however, drove a superb race. Faultless from start to finish, he dominated the very same race he spun 6 times at in 2020- proving his true mettle and sheer skill. Max finished 2nd after what can only be called a boring race for him, and Sergio finished P3 to earn only his 3rd podium of the year!

Let’s now take a look at each driver’s race in detail!

THE DRIVERS: WHO DID WHAT?

(P1) Valtteri Bottas:

For the first time this year, I’ve given a driver a perfect score, and why not? Valtteri was absolutely faultless and drove a commanding race, and it’s the best opportunity to give him the respect he deserves! He even did a small drift to commemorate his dominance. (10/10)

(P2) Max Verstappen:

Max just had a quiet race, with not much in terms of what he could do. He did, however stay out of trouble and clawed back some good points on Lewis. (9/10)

(P3) Sergio Perez:

Only his third podium of the year, Checo drove well and gave us a fantastic battle with Lewis as well. He regained some of his pace post-pitstop, and got a well deserved P3. (9/10)

(P4) Charles Leclerc:

Charles drove superbly, running in P3 for most of the race. He was as usual let down by stupid radio callouts from his engineer, but apart from that both he and Ferrari had a great day! (9/10)

(P5) Lewis Hamilton:

Lewis made rapid progress in the initial few laps, but eventually got stuck in a net 5th place. A strategic battle between him and the team saw him pit at a very wrong time, from where he couldn’t recover due to graining on his tyres. (8.5/10)

(P6) Pierre Gasly:

Pierre had a quiet race, though I feel like it could’ve been a bit more had it not been for the collision. He stayed out of trouble post Lap 1, and bagged P6, which made Daniel quite happy! (8/10)

(P7) Lando Norris:

Lando was almost invisible, with him driving a good race to finish P7. Quiet drives need not be rated badly, he stayed out of all trouble and bagged good points in the process. (8/10)

(P8) Carlos Sainz:

A perfect drive by the Spaniard gave him a good haul of points after starting P19, and he even got his first Driver Of The Day in the process! (9.5/10)

(P9) Lance Stroll:

Lance had a good race, yet again not being shown on TV much at all. He bagged P9 and 2 points, though Aston have to really step up their game, soon! (8/10)

(P10) Esteban Ocon:

The only driver to do a 0-stop race, Esteban drove and conserved his tyres fantastically to cling onto the final, solitary point with P10. He was very, very close to a puncture though.(8.5/10)

(P11) Antonio Giovinazzi:

A good drive by the Italian, finishing ahead of his teammate, and just outside the points. Antonio could’ve got P10, but he ran out of laps in the end. (8/10)

(P12) Kimi Raikkonen:

Kimi drove a quiet race, with not much happening for him. He made a stunning switchback manoeuvre on Ricciardo in the final few laps, though did eventually have to settle for P12. (7.5/10)

(P13) Daniel Ricciardo:

Daniel had car issues from the start of the race itself. An early pitstop gamble didn’t pay off, and he tumbled down the order once those with fresher tyres caught up to him. (7/10)

(P14) Yuki Tsunoda:

Up until his early spin, Yuki had a good race, even holding off Lewis for many laps. He couldn’t recover from the spin however, and finished a lowly 14th. A shame. (6/10)

(P15) George Russell:

George drove a quiet and lonely race, finishing in 15th with no points. He will surely be hoping for more, though they will have to work hard to score regular points once again! (7/10)

(P16) Fernando Alonso:

Fernando had a tough race, after being spun on Lap 1 and then receiving a 5-second penalty after he collided with Mick on Lap 2. He couldn’t do much henceforth, finishing a lowly 16th after starting in what was his best grid position since back in 2014, when he achieved P5 for the soaked and eventually sad Japanese GP. Sad, but he will come back stronger. (6.5/10)

(P17) Nicholas Latifi:

Nicholas was an absolute ghost, and he spun on Lap 1 as well. He couldn’t do anything from there on, languishing in 17th at the end. (6/10)

(P18) Sebastian Vettel:

When Aston have a chance at points, and have their foot in the points, they love to mess around with it and shoot themselves in the foot. Seb’s strategy compromised his race, and ensured that he finished no higher than a lowly P18. (6.5/10)

(P19) Mick Schumacher:

Mick achieved his best-ever qualifying with 15th, and his best-ever grid position with 14th on Saturday. Sunday, however was different. He was spun by Alonso on Lap 2, and couldn’t do anything henceforth. (6/10)

(P20) Nikita Mazepin:

Yeah, not much to say. Stayed at the back, got in the way of the leaders while getting blue flags, and was just a general annoyance on track for the others. Not good Nikita, not good. (3/10)

WHO SHONE, WHO SUNK?

Who Shone: Valtteri and Carlos were absolutely brilliant on Sunday. They seemed to be in a league of their own, with Valtteri dominating at the front, while Carlos cut brilliantly through the field. Also a mention to Leclerc, Ocon and Gasly; all 3 of the French-speaking drivers also drove a fantastic race!

Who Sunk: Realistically, only Mazepin and the Aston strategy team failed on raceday. Nikita got in the way of the race leaders while under blue flag conditions, and as for the Aston strategy team, do I even need to say anything? They fitted Seb onto dries on a damp and wet track, and cost him a decently good chance at points.

The next race is in ‘Murica, at the Circuit of the Americas. It’s a good challenge for the drivers, with a technical Sector 1, a very quick Sector 2 and a good end to the lap with Sector 3. It’s expected to be overcast on raceday, though no rain is forecast. Here’s to hoping for a grand and entertainment-filled race on Sunday!

(All picture rights belong to their respective owners.)

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