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2021 Turkish Grand Prix Star Performers | 2021 Turkish Grand Prix

2021 Turkish Grand Prix Star Performers | 2021 Turkish Grand Prix

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Mick Schumacher, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz Jnr were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Turkish Grand Prix. Here’s why.

Stars

Mick Schumacher

  • The star of qualifying – took his Haas into Q2 on merit, beating a McLaren, taking his career-best qualifying result in 14th, and continuing his unbeaten run against Mazepin
  • Still 15th at the end of lap one, he was taken out by Alonso and fell behind team mate
  • Caught Mazepin rapidly during the first stint and got back ahead through the pit stops
  • Pulled out a gap of over 20 seconds to Mazepin before taking the chequered flag in 19th

Valtteri Bottas

  • Out-qualified Max Verstappen by two tenths of a second to take pole position after Hamilton’s grid penalty was applied
  • Led comfortably for the first 37 laps of the race after a clean start
  • Pounced on the opportunity to take the lead back from Charles Leclerc after pitting for a new set of intermediates
  • Stamped his first win since Russia in 2020, with a fastest lap on the final lap to secure the bonus point
  • An all-around flawless race performance after his struggles in last year’s Turkish Grand Prix

Carlos Sainz Jnr

  • Finished ninth in Q1, bumping Daniel Ricciardo out to advance to Q2 on his last flying lap of qualifying
  • Gained one more grid spot, thanks to Ricciardo’s power unit change
  • Worked his way into the top ten by lap 14, with only a little help from incidents in front of him
  • Could have easily finished higher than eighth, if not for a slow pit stop on lap 36
  • Gained 11 places, the most of any driver

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Strugglers

Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo didn’t look comfortable in damp conditions
  • Couldn’t get a clean lap in during Q1 and failed to reach Q2 for the first time since Portugal, less than a tenth below the cut line in 16th place
  • Took a grid penalty to change power units on race day – but had only moved from 20th up to 16th after 20 laps
  • Asked over the radio to change tyres early due to lack of front grip; pitted on lap 21 and dropped to 18th ahead of both Haas drivers, while struggling to get grip into the rear tyres
  • Moved up to 11th before the tyres fell off again, dropping him to 13th at the chequered flag – his worst result since Styria

Nikita Mazepin

  • Qualified 2.8 seconds slower than team mate Mick Schumacher, slowest of the pack in Q1, while spinning off twice
  • Got ahead of Schumacher early in the race after his team mate was hit by Alonso, but ended up back behind Schumacher after both drivers pitted for new intermediate tyres
  • Finished the race with no major incidents, but his pace dropped off dramatically in the final laps as he took the chequered flag in 20th

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And the rest

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Istanbul Park, 2021
Verstappen led the way at Red Bull, Perez impressed in race
  • Once again out-qualified team mate Perez by over half a second in Q3, but just missed out on the pole position from Bottas after admitting he made an error with his battery deployment
  • Started second, and effectively ran second for the entirety of the race
  • Only problem in the race came in the form of a minor technical worries relating to his gear change display and steering wheel
  • Second place finish moved him six points clear of Lewis Hamilton for the lead in the drivers’ championship with six races left

Sergio Perez

  • Recovered from a spin in qualifying to line up sixth on the grid, his best starting position since the end of the summer break
  • Made a forceful start off the line, lunging up the inside of Gasly, who clashed with Alonso while Perez jumped to fourth
  • Superb duel for fourth place with Hamilton, which saw a great display of late braking from Perez to regain a position it seemed he would lose
  • Had plenty of grip in his second set of intermediates by lap 51, where he overtook Leclerc at turn 12 to secure third place
  • Made a much needed return to the podium, his first since France

Charles Leclerc

  • Wrangled a low downforce setting to put his Ferrari third on the grid, behind Bottas and Verstappen
  • Maintained third place from the start and, like many other drivers, found more grip once the intermediate tyres had been worn down to some degree
  • Moved to the lead when Bottas and Verstappen pitted, revealing their strategy to try and finish the race on a single set of intermediates
  • The wear was too great by the time Leclerc conceded the lead to Bottas on lap 47, at which point Ferrari brought him in for fresh rubber
  • Missed out on a podium as he was overtaken by Perez while struggling with graining after his pit stop

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Istanbul Park, 2021
No pole for Hamilton despite leading qualifying
  • Showcased supreme speed throughout the weekend leading up to the race – leading both Friday sessions and all three phases of qualifying
  • Began working his way up from 11th on the grid, following a tough scrap in the first few laps with Yuki Tsunoda
  • Demonstrated superior race pace during the middle stages of the race, even on worn intermediate tyres, and fought hard with Perez
  • Spurred the team to leave him out until pitting on lap 51, a decision which Hamilton complained about, but held his position despite graining tyres after returning to the track

Pierre Gasly

  • Finished every phase of qualifying in the top five, en route to a fourth place grid position
  • Went into turn one between Perez and Alonso, made contact with Alonso and received a five second time penalty
  • Settled right back into the groove after serving the time penalty during his pit stop, holding sixth place behind Hamilton and Leclerc
  • Bounced back from two non-scoring results in succession to get back in the points in sixth

Lando Norris

  • Strongest of the McLaren drivers throughout practice and in qualifying, where he qualified eighth and started seventh
  • Maximised the number of points available in a McLaren known to struggle in long, medium-speed corners that proliferate most of the Istanbul Park circuit
  • Gradually closed in on Gasly towards the end of the race, ultimately settling for seventh position

Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Istanbul Park, 2021
Stroll coped better with a wet track than he did at Sochi
  • Made it to Q3 in Istanbul once again, but fell way short of his impressive pole position from last year with ninth place
  • Started well, didn’t offer much resistance against Hamilton who was on the move from 11th, and held eighth place for much of the race
  • Fell down to tenth after a slow pit stop for a second set of intermediates, but eventually got past a struggling Esteban Ocon to regain ninth place at the end

Esteban Ocon

  • After strong results in practice, failed to make the cut for Q3 after sliding wide on his final run and having to back off to avoid his team mate, who was letting him through
  • Saw an opportunity to challenge for points – after theorising that it could have worked last year on the old track surface, he and his team committed to running the whole race on one set of intermediate tyres
  • While Leclerc and Hamilton ultimately folded their strategic hands, Ocon remained committed after climbing to eighth
  • Eventually his tyres gave out near the end, losing several seconds per lap – overtaken by Stroll for ninth, and only just held off Giovinazzi for tenth

Antonio Giovinazzi

Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, Istanbul Park, 2021
Points narrowly eluded Giovinazzi
  • Qualified ahead of Raikkonen once again, lining up 16th on the grid
  • A brilliant opening lap saw him jump four positions up to 12th, where he remained until being overtaken by Sainz’s Ferrari
  • Overtook Ricciardo to move up to eleventh, setting up a chance to pass Ocon with his worn tyres for the final points position
  • Took almost five seconds out of Ocon on the final lap and chased the Alpine across the finishing line, narrowly falling short of the final point

Kimi Raikkonen

  • Finished 1.048 seconds adrift of Giovinazzi in Q1, the second-slowest driver in the field ahead of only Mazepin
  • From 17th on the grid, gained a four positions on the opening lap thanks in some part to Alonso and Latifi’s incidents
  • Followed Giovinazzi along as both Alfa Romeos got past Ricciardo with less than two laps remaining; consolidating 12th place for Raikkonen

Yuki Tsunoda

  • Found the confidence needed in mixed conditions to advance to Q3 for the first time since Austria
  • Had a spirited duel with Lewis Hamilton for several laps, eventually conceding his position to the reigning champion on lap eight, but saying afterwards he took a lot out of his tyres by doing so
  • Dropped out of the points positions following a spin on lap 22
  • Overtaken by Raikkonen and fell to 14th before his pit stop, which became his eventual finishing position, his fifth consecutive non-score

George Russell

  • Made it to Q2 for the 15th time this year, and had a decent lap going with a Q3 berth in sight until he ran wide at the final corner on his last attempt
  • Not his best opening lap, dropping from 13th on the grid to 14th behind Raikkonen and eventually, down to 15th as Sainz went through from the final row
  • Spent much of the race running ahead of Alonso, even holding off the two-time world champion to consolidate 15th place

Fernando Alonso

Poll: Should Gasly have been penalised for first-corner tangle with Alonso?
  • Soundly quick through all phases of qualifying, going nearly a full second quicker than Ocon in Q2 – which parlayed into his best grid position of the year
  • Alonso’s great qualifying effort was undone in just one corner, after collision with Gasly dropped him to 16th after the first lap
  • Received no sympathy for his unforced collision into Schumacher on lap two, which eventually resulted in a five second time penalty
  • Spent the remainder of the race scrapping with George Russell, but couldn’t make the move up to 15th; his 16th place finish is his worst result since Spain

Nicholas Latifi

  • Couldn’t find the extra three tenths needed to advance to Q2 for the fifth time this season
  • Paid the price for an unforced opening lap spin, dropping him all the way to the back of the field
  • Overtook both Haas drivers on track, then gained a bonus position when Vettel’s slick tyre gamble backfired massively
  • Consolidated 17th position, within 10 seconds of Russell ahead of him

Sebastian Vettel

  • Received the blessing of starting inside the top ten with free tyre selection, after missing Q3 by less than two tenths of a second
  • With the track drying, Vettel and his team took a chance to switch to slick tyres on lap 36 with the hope of a dry line forming on the track
  • That dry line never formed, and instead of surging through the field, he slipped and spun his way down to 18th in just one lap
  • Race pace stabilised after going back to intermediates, though it will have been little consolation for finishing 18th after running in the points for more than half the race

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

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October 11, 2021 at 05:30PM

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