The lead of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship has see-sawed several times this season and a fortnight ago went back into the hands of Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver scored his fifth win of the season in Russia as he passed McLaren’s Lando Norris in the closing laps of the race as a late downpour washed Norris away from a first victory.
Hamilton’s two-point lead over title rival Max Verstappen has set up another thrilling encounter between the duo at this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix which replaced the Singapore race. Located in Tulsa, Intercity Istanbul Park was designed by Herman Tilke and is 5.338 km long and is ran counterclockwise. Of the circuit’s 14 turns, six are right and eight left and F1 cars can reach over 320 km/h on the longest straight is 720 meters. Look out for Turn 8, a favourite with the drivers, which consists of multiple apexes and is causes a lot of pressure on the driver’s necks. The circuit has ups and downs and the highest longitudinal slope is 8.145%.
Despite having the fastest car, Red Bull has not won a race since Verstappen’s home victory at Zandvoort in early September. The Dutch driver will be aware of Hamilton’s strong history in Turkey as a twice-winner and it’s the track where he secured his seventh world title.
All eyes will be on Hamilton and Verstappen at the front, although with a 56% chance of rain expected on Sunday it could play into Red Bull’s hands in terms of having a car with superior grip compared to the Mercedes W12. McLaren’s Norris and Daniel Ricciardo will be buoyed by impressive outings in Monza and Sochi and look to score more points in Turkey. Carlos Sainz’s impressive form continued in Russia and he seems to be able to extract the most out of the Ferrari, and he’ll be another driver to watch out in the ‘best of the rest.
Despite the race taking place a month earlier than it did in 2020 which should see higher ambient temperatures and result in better grip, the reality is the car with superior mechanical grip will reap the benefits. What’s clear is that neither Hamilton nor Verstappen is willing to give an inch as they know how important every point is with only seven races in the season remaining.
Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez
Fastest lap: Hamilton
Pole position: Max Verstappen
First to retire: Mick Schumacher
Most Team Points: Red Bull
Both Cars Qualify for Q3 Shootout: Aston Martin
Free Practice 1/2/3 Winning Car: Verstappen / Red Bull
Safety Car: Yes