HAMILTON WON THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP! SEBASTIAN VETTEL GOT A PODIUM?! STROLL LOST OUT FROM POLE! I feel like this post is going to be longer than the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix itself! There was WAY too much going on, and I still can’t believe that Formula 1 made a highlights reel that was shorter than 10 minutes. Unpredictable weather conditions and inconsistent rain invaded this race weekend. Istanbul Park was recently resurfaced. The only dry sessions of the weekend saw drivers REALLY struggling for grip. The wet sessions were 10 times worse. The track still didn’t have enough rubber and grip. This, along with the rain, made qualifying and the race tougher than ever for the drivers. This race saw pain and glory, and here at F1ntastic.com, we’re going to review it.
How Lewis Hamilton Defied All The Odds To Become a 7-Time World Champion
I will honestly lose sleep if ANYBODY thinks that Lewis Hamilton is not onf of the Greatest of All Time, or at least the greatest of this era. Hamilton’s career took off in 2007 when he joined F1 with McLaren. He lost out on the title that year by only a singular point! So this means that, including 2020, Hamilton’s career is only 13 years long. And in those 13 years, he won the World Championship a whopping 7 times. The Brit equalled the great Michael Schumacher’s record for total World Titles, and believe it or not, it took him 13 years too. Schumacher won 5 titles in a row from 2000-2004, which is a feat that has never EVER been done again. However, if Hamilton wins the title in 2021, he will equal that record as well!
Hamilton was on a streak of winning titles since 2014, which was only broken when Nico Rosberg won the title in 2016. Since 2018, Hamilton showed his true talent by winning the World Championship many rounds before the end of the season. Hamilton won by huge margins after his former teammate Nico Rosberg retired, and it was almost as if there was no competition at all. In 2020, out of the 14 races that have been completed so far, Lewis Hamilton has won 10 of them. Hamilton used to win 10 races in 20 rounds, but 2020 has shown us another level of dominance that the F1 world hadn’t seen for years. Hamilton has displayed his undefeated skill both before and during his Formula 1 career. But at the Turkish Grand Prix, the Brit was at a whole new level.
Mercedes had a very bad weekend up until Sunday. The recently crowned World Champions just couldn’t top the timesheets. On Friday the track didn’t have enough grip, and on Saturday it was like driving on ice. I will explain why it was so difficult for drivers later on in this post. Back to Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, Qualifying was a DISASTER. Lewis Hamilton started in P6 on the grid, whilst his teammate Valterri Bottas started in P9. However, when the race came, Lewis Hamilton showed the world his class. When the 5 red lights went out, everybody struggled like crazy. There was essentially no grip on the track, and everybody was “crawling off the line”, as the commentator David Croft said. The Racing Points got great starts, and so did the Renaults and the Mercs. The Red Bulls had a nightmare, which allowed the Mercs to get ahead of them.
Bottas did well off the line, so he showed that the Mercedes drivers were still capable of crushing their opponents. Any fan of Valterri Bottas would suddenly have a lot of hope right now because Bottas was extremely close to Lewis Hamilton. But that was it for Bottas because from then on, things fell into Hamilton’s hands. Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon made contact coming into Turn 1 because Ocon didn’t leave his teammate and Lewis Hamilton enough space. Ocon’s contact with Ricciardo made him spin right in front of Bottas’s car. This meant that Bottas had to break and try and slow down the car, which unsettled the car, due to the wet conditions. Bottas spun, and from then on, Bottas spun at least 3 more times. That was race over, and a championship over for Valterri Bottas.
But for Lewis Hamilton, it wasn’t over yet. Hamilton was in P3 in the first lap. When he was approaching Turn 9, still on the first lap, the Brit ran wide and lost P3 to Sebastian Vettel. He also lost P4 to Max Verstappen on the straight after Turns 9 & 10. After Hamilton ran off the track he lost so much momentum and his tires got so cold that even Alex Albon fancied a move down into the Turn 12 hairpin. The Mercedes tried to fight back, but on the exit Hamilton nearly spun, showing that he had lost a lot of grip. In a couple of laps’ time, Lance Stroll reported something very interesting on the radio. The track was drying up, and it was getting drier really fast.
The strategies suddenly took a sharp turn, and the entire field pitted to switch from the extreme wet tires to the intermediate tires. The rain had stopped falling, and some drivers pitted as early as Lap 6. Hamilton pitted on Lap 8, which was the lap when half of the field pitted for inters. Hamilton came out of the pits in P6, which is where he was after losing 3 positions on the first lap. Now, this is where things get interesting.
On Lap 18, Albon got past Vettel for P4, and Max Verstappen was right on the tail of Sergio Perez for P2. Perez got a bad exit off the chicane before the back straight, and Max Verstappen pulled alongside him. However, the back straight at Turkey has a kink in it, and Perez used that kink to squeeze Verstappen out. The track was still wet, so DRS was disabled, and the grip levels on the track were low. Nevertheless, Verstappen was hungry for points, he wanted the highest position possible. He didn’t lift off coming through the kink, and he nearly hit the rear end of Perez. To avoid hitting Perez, Verstappen turned a little bit to the left and ran off the track. The runoff was full of standing water, and at such high speeds, it was inevitable that Verstappen was going to spin, which he did.
Verstappen lost P3 to Albon, and he lost 4th and 5th to Vettel and Hamilton as they powered past him on the back straight. The tires on Verstappen’s car were flat-spotted from the huge spin, so the Dutchman was forced to pit. To make things better for Lewis Hamilton, Bottas spun AGAIN on Lap 21. So that was out of the way. Hamilton knew that that 7th World Championship was pretty much guaranteed by now. But Lewis Hamilton is a racer; he always wants to do the best possible. And of course, he wanted to win that 7th title in style.
On Lap 30, the 2nd round of pitstops started. Charles Leclerc was the first to pit once again, and he started setting incredibly fast laps on the fresh tires. The Racing Point cars had run away with P1 and P2, so P3 was the only position that was really up for grabs. Hamilton was in P5, behind Vettel and Albon. Vettel pitted and Albon threw away the podium with a spin. The race went from very good to very bad in the space of a corner for Alex Albon.
Lance Stroll pitted for a new set of intermediates on Lap 36, and he came out of the pits in P4. Unfortunately for the Canadian, he watched Verstappen become effectively the leader of the race. One can’t help but feel bad for Stroll; the only reason he lost so much pace was that he had damage that was not found until after the race.
Back to Hamilton’s race, the Brit was in P2, since the only other person yet to pit for new tires was Stroll’s teammate Sergio Perez. And on Lap 37, Hamilton showed everyone that he was the master of woeful weather. His intermediate tires were 5 laps older than Perez’s. However, Hamilton still caught up to Perez. Hamilton used DRS to pass him on the back straight, down into Turn 12 for first place in the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix. But things weren’t that simple for Hamilton. The track was drying fast, and there was a good chance that the drivers would switch to the dry tires. If that did happen, Verstappen would have benefitted from the pitstop he made on Lap 18. He was in P3 on Lap 37, and he could easily take 2nd place or maybe even the win in the dry conditions.
However, the weather happened to be on Hamilton’s side. The rain briefly returned, meaning the drivers had to stay on the intermediates. From then on, Lewis Hamilton showed that experience really matters and that he is worthy of the 7th title that he earned at the Turkish Grand Prix. After pitting only once on Lap 8, Hamilton somehow managed to keep his tire wear under check. In fact, he did it so well that he would still win the race if he made an extra pitstop. But he didn’t need to, because he could manage his tires better than anyone else. It was a masterful drive to take a well-deserved victory. Hamilton truly succeeded in winning his 7th world title in style. The 2020 Turkish Grand Prix will forever be embedded in the history of Formula 1.
Sebastian Vettel Clinched His First Podium of 2020!
The SF1000 was far below par for the majority of 2020. Ferrari was looking behind in pre-season testing, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. This is when Ferrari really lost out. Italy was hit really badly in the early stages of the pandemic, which meant that Ferrari had to close down their facilities for quite some time. The FIA did push the mandatory factory shutdown to March to help Ferrari, and they extended it to a period of 63 days, but still, that didn’t help enough. All the teams used this extra time and the engine manufactures could still boost their cars and engines quite a bit. Ferrari’s car and their engines were the exact same as they were in winter testing. But when the first round of the revised calendar arrived, the Prancing Horses’ performances were appaling.
Charles Leclerc did wonders by finishing on the podium twice in the opening races in the year. The Monegasque has finished in high positions like 2nd, 3rd or 4th many times this year, and he has truly proven he is a fantastic driver. The entire F1 world has seen how the Ferrari SF1000 has been so slow in 2020, but Charles Leclerc has shown his worth by wrestling his car to the top 5 in many races. However, Leclerc’s teammate hasn’t had the best year. Sebastian Vettel is a 4-time World Champion. But his poor performance in 2020 meant that almost everybody turned their backs to him. But at the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix, Vettel showed he still had it in him, and like Hamilton, he proved experience is key.
At the race start, there was pretty much no traction. But Sebastian Vettel had a MAD start. After starting in P11, Vettel managed his traction by shifting up the gears early, and he stayed out of trouble into Turn 1. The German made into P4 by Turn 2! THAT’S INSANE! And believe it or not, after Hamilton went wide at Turn 10, VETTEL MADE IT TO 3RD PLACE?! There is no way that any driver on the grid has had a better start than Vettel had at Turkey.
It was looking like Vettel would easily grab a podium at Turkey. But there was a lot more turmoil to come for everybody. On Lap 18, Alex Albon muscled his way past the 4-time World champ to take P3, and everyone had mixed feelings. People wanted Vettel to get that podium, but everyone wants Albon to finally fully prove himself. However, it looked like things were going to get worse.
Vettel had a 5.3 second pitstops after an issue on the rear-right tire. But then, Albon spun and Stroll fell down the order, leaving Vettel in P4. He was behind Hamilton, Perez and Max Verstappen. The Ferraris were in P4 and P5, which was already a great run for the Prancing Horses. But then, the Ferraris switched places. Leclerc overtook Vettel for what was effectively P3 after Verstappen pitted. The Ferraris were flying, and on the very last lap of the race, Leclerc absolutely sent it. It looked like the order was going to be Hamilton, Leclerc, Perez and then Vettel. Until Leclerc made a huge mistake. He locked up into Turn 12, and he threw away that perfectly good podium. However, Sebastian Vettel claimed his first podium of 2020! He nearly got P2, but he lost out by only 3 tenths of a second!
From the crazy start, to the sprint to the line at the end, Vettel just kept his composure and kept out of trouble to take his maiden podium of 2020. And hopefully, there are more to come this year, so that Ferrari can push to go back to winning races in 2021.
Tricky Track Conditions Terrorized The Drivers At The Turkish Grand Prix
The Turkish GP is famous mainly because of one thing. The Intercity Istanbul Park, the circuit where the Turkish GP takes place, is one of the most famous circuits in F1. Many compare Istanbul Park with Belgium’s Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, so you know it’s up there. Istanbul Park was designed by Hermann Tilke, one of if not the most renowned Formula 1 circuit designers. Out of all the wonderful tracks he has designed, many feel Istanbul Park is the best. The track’s nature is such that the races are very exciting and interesting, as mentioned earlier. Like Imola, Istanbul Park is one of the very few circuits that run in anti-clockwise. The F1 world wanted to see exactly how the modern Formula 1 cars would fare at Istanbul Park.
In a best-case scenario, Saturday would have dry conditions, and the track would have enough grip by now. The fans were ready to watch the drivers smash the lap records. However, many people’s hopes and dreams fell down the drain, because along came the rain, and for the drivers came pain. The drivers struggled to keep their cars facing the right direction! There were countless spins from all of the drivers. I’m sure each driver had spun or nearly spun at least once in either FP3 or Qualifying. The race saw even crazier conditions, with the race beginning in full wet conditions. The rain didn’t go away in time for the slick tires, and the entire race took place with wet-weather tires on the cars. This means that the rain brought a miracle this race weekend. Istanbul’s Turn 8 was flat no more.
While that is unique and interesting, the main reason that Istanbul Park is famous is the long, high-speed left-hander of Turn 8. The quadruple-apex corner was often a huge challenge for drivers since it was so fast and so easy to spin or to push beyond the limit. The older F1 cars didn’t have so much downforce and grip, but the modern F1 cars do. We were going to witness Turn 8 being easily full throttle, but we didn’t. In the dry sessions, the track didn’t have enough grip. Meanwhile, in the wet sessions, there was water. We saw Turn 8 ACTUALLY challenging the drivers. It was something that we just couldn’t miss.
This race weekend was just so complete. Lewis Hamilton won his 7th World Championship, and Sebastian Vettel claimed his very first podium of 2020. The 2020 Turkish Grand Prix will never be forgotten, as it was a true spectacle. Stay safe, and stay on the lookout for new posts.