Turkish GP: Bottas claims comfortable win as Verstappen reclaims title lead

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Valtteri Bottas was unchallenged as he led almost from start to finish at the Turkish Grand Prix.

Pre-race rain and persistent drizzle led to damp conditions throughout the race in Istanbul, as the circuit refused to dry enough for slicks.

Starting P11, Lewis Hamilton had work to do and was on course for a podium before a contentious strategy call by Mercedes slip down to fifth.

Meanwhile, Max Verstappen was left somewhat bored as he cruised to second place, with Sergio Perez making it two Red Bulls on the podium in third.

Race Review

A clean start at the front as Bottas led Verstappen into Turn 1. Behind, Fernando Alonso spun at the first corner dropping down the field from fifth as Hamilton made up two places to ninth.

After a few laps behind Yuki Tsunoda, the Mercedes driver soon starts making quick progress to fifth and showed much better pace than the leaders.

Carlos Sainz also stormed through the field from 19th, and was back into the points after his engine penalty.

With the circuit very slow to dry, the intermediates were quickly degrading to slicks and the high tyre wear meant lap times stabilised among the leaders.

Hamilton caught Sergio Perez for fourth, with the pair going side-by-side from Turn 12 to Turn 1, but the Red Bull was just able to stay in front.

Bottas, Verstappen and Perez all opt to pit for new intermediates, while a gamble for Sebastian Vettel on slicks proves a very wrong decision as he fell down the field.

That put Leclerc in the lead, with the Ferrari driver suggesting he would try to complete the full race on just one set of tyres.

However, that attempt was abandoned with the Monegasque changing onto fresh intermediates after being passed by Bottas.

Hamilton was also keen to try and stay out for the whole race without pitting, but Mercedes would call him in with eight laps to go.

At one point, it looked like that move could backfire as Lewis struggled with graining and Pierre Gasly quickly closed in.

But Hamilton was able to pick up the pace in the final laps albeit only to keep a fifth-place finish.

Out front, once back ahead, Bottas was untroubled as he took the chequered flag to claim his first win of the season.

Verstappen had to settle for second but does retake the championship lead by six points ahead of Hamilton, as Perez claimed his first podium since Paul Ricard in third.

Leclerc took fourth ahead of Hamilton and Gasly. Lando Norris was seventh, with Sainz's comeback through the field ending in P8.

Lance Stroll claimed ninth, with Esteban Ocon the only driver to not pit the entire race in 10th.

The two Alfa Romeos just missed out on points in 11th and 12th, as an early stop for intermediates backfired for Daniel Ricciardo in 13th.

A spin took Tsunoda out of the top 10 in 14th with George Russell following in 15th.

The Turn 1 spin and later contact with Mick Schumacher, resulting in a penalty, ruined Alonso's race in 16th ahead of Nicholas Latifi.

Vettel ended 18th after his failed switch to slick tyres with the two Haas' at the back of the field with Schumacher in front of Nikita Mazepin.

A strange race as drivers managed their intermediate, or 'interslick' tyres, throughout.

Now F1 embarks on its first flyaway trip since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, heading across the Atlantic for the United States Grand Prix in Austin in two weeks time.

Full results from Sunday can be seen below: