An emphatic performance by Lewis Hamilton around a wet Istanbul Park has seen him claim his 94th Formula 1 race win and his seventh world championship – matching the record set by Michael Schumacher back in 2004.
Hamilton, who earlier this year broke the record for the most number of Grands Prix victories, is now either leading or equal on all major record lists, cementing himself as unquestionably one of the greatest drivers of all time.
“I am bit lost for words,” said Hamilton.
“I don’t think I could have done this without this team and the journey we have been on has been monumental and I am so proud of all of them.
“And to my family; we dreamed of this since we were young, and this is way beyond our dreams.”
Only one driver could deny the Brit another world crown. Still, Valtteri Bottas suffered a horrific string of events which eventuated in four different spins and finishing one lap down on his teammate.
Hamilton’s win from sixth on the grid came from a wise one-stop strategy by the Mercedes team which had the champion elect cruise home 30s ahead of Sergio Perez.
Sebastian Vettel fronted a Ferrari 3-4 as he and Charles Leclerc put in one of the most robust displays for the ailing Scuderia team this season.
After a stunning qualifying performance to become F1’s fifth-youngest pole sitter, Lance Stroll led most of the opening half of the race.
The field slowly skated towards turn one with Daniel Ricciardo the first to slip up, clashing with his teammate Esteban Ocon at Turn One. The incident then triggered a chain of events with Bottas making the first championship-critical mistake by pitching himself 180-degrees.
The Finn would spin an additional time at Turn 10 while Hamilton bowled a wide at the end of the back straight to gift Vettel a provisional third. The Ferrari made the strongest start of the entire field, making up eight spots in the space of half-a-lap.
For the most part, drivers were unable to make many inroads into one another as they flirted with danger by running off line. Any positional change was thus going to happen through the opening pit stop phases.
The first to blink and ditch the wet tyres for the intermediates was Leclerc on Lap 7. The Monegasque set the fastest second and final sectors on his out lap and this surge in speed was the catalyst for a flurry of pit action.
Vettel boxed from third, followed by Hamilton and Stroll the following lap. The anomaly was Max Verstappen who chose to extend his opening stint until Lap 12 and was thus able to overcut Vettel.
The German was the cork in the bottle of a three-car duel involving Hamilton and Alex Albon. An overly opportunistic lunge by Hamilton had him yield fifth to the Red Bull who then quickly swept by Vettel.
The two Red Bulls were the quickest of anyone in the damp conditions. Verstappen swiftly reeled in Perez but was hurled into a wild spin after running across the slick runoff which dropped him to eighth.
DRS was finally enabled on Lap 30 with the greatest benefactors being Vettel and Hamilton who quickly latched onto the rear wing of third-placed Albon, who then spun at Turn 4.
Vettel boxed for his final set of intermediates two laps later with Stroll forced to cover off a possible undercut. Perez was thus promoted to the lead, though only temporarily as Hamilton eased himself ahead of the Racing Point the very next lap down the back straight.
Stroll then lost a spot to the hard-charging Vettel with the Ferrari now the leading driver on the freshest set of tyres. However, Leclerc’s electric pace had seen him muscle himself right behind his teammate, and the two Prancing Horses traded positions at Turn 12.
Despite not having stopped since Lap Seven, Hamilton was able to make his well-worn intermediates work. He had built out a 15s margin over Perez in just a few laps after stealing the lead, going on to claim an unrivalled victory.
Leclerc had one last attack on Perez for second but out braked himself at Turn 12, relinquishing the final podium spot to Vettel who stands on the rostrum for the first time since the Mexican GP last year.
Carlos Sainz finished 0.5s adrift of Leclerc while Verstappen’s mid-race spin meant he was forced to make an additional pitstop, eventually coming home sixth.
A podium was certainly in the table from Albon today, but the Thai driver still ended up trailing his teammate across the line.
Lance Stroll slumped to ninth after complaining of tyre graining after his final stop with Lando Norris and Ricciardo finishing either side of the Racing Point.
|Carlos Sainz Jr.