Bottas victorious at Turkey

Finally a race victory for Valtteri Bottas, as the Mercedes driver dominated the Turkish Grand Prix by finishing ahead of Max Verstappen in damp conditions. His teammate Lewis Hamilton recovered to fifth position but ended the race angry with the strategy calls.

Sergio Perez took P3 giving the Honda-powered Red Bull a double podium. Charles Leclerc and Hamilton finished a close behind after their attempts to complete the race on a single set of inters did not pay off.

At the start, where all cars were fitted with intermediate tyres, the top three scrambled off the line in the order they had arrived, with Bottas comfortably leading Verstappen into Turn 1.

Leclerc made the best start of the trio but stayed third after getting close to Verstappen’s outside before falling back as they reached the left-hander.

Despite the tricky conditions, the only lap one incidents were Pierre Gasly tapping Fernando Alonso around as the Alpine tried to sweep around the outside of the first corner, which spun him down to the rear of the field – where he was involved in a clash that led to Mick Schumacher spinning at Turn 4 on lap two – and Nicolas Latifi spinning by himself at Turn 9.

Bottas led by 1.3 seconds at the end of the first lap of 58 and it did not grow much beyond that over the next phase of the race – despite Verstappen searching for wet patches to cool his inter and complaining about a dashboard error message he was spotting each time he changed gear.

By lap 10, Valtteri’s lead had reached 2.4 seconds – having grown suddenly on the previous two tours – at which point Hamilton had reached seventh after nipping by Sebastian Vettel at the final corners on lap one and then scything past Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll in successive tours on laps eight and nine, after Tsunoda had held him at bay in the early stages.

Hamilton then nipped ahead of Lando Norris to take sixth at Turn 9, as Bottas continued to extend his lead over Verstappen – the two Mercedes cars at this stage the only cars lapping in the one minute, 33 seconds bracket and Leclerc falling back from Verstappen by several seconds.

But as the race approached the 20-lap mark, with Hamilton up to fifth having easily passed Gasly ahead of the Turn 12 stop at the end of the back straight on lap 14, Verstappen raised his pace and began to close in again on Bottas as the focus became about how the inters were holding up.

Bottas also upped his speed as the leaders moved to the low 1m33s, the Finn initially holding his gap at just over three seconds until he lost half a second sliding wide out of the first corner on lap 20.

But from there Verstappen could not close in much, with all the leaders moving to find wetter patches as their inters wore down – Hamilton in fifth initially tearing into Sergio Perez’s advantage ahead before the Mexican driver’s pace improved and he stayed clear in fourth, albeit well behind Leclerc, who continued to keep the leading duo in sight.

McLaren pitted Daniel Ricciardo for fresh inters from the rear of the field, but the Australian did not go any faster and was indeed slower than the leaders, who began to consider if a one-stop strategy would be feasible as the half-way point approached.

Here, Bottas began to pull away from Verstappen again – his lead rising to four seconds at lap 30 – while Hamilton, who at one point had to back out of lapping Nikita Mazepin when coming close to the Haas at the Turn 11 kink in the middle of the back straight, finally reached Perez’s rear, the pair nearly twenty seconds off the lead.

They engaged in a thrilling fight at the end of lap 34 and into lap 35, Hamilton attacking to the Red Bull’s outside at Turn 12 and staying alongside all the way to the final corner, Perez at one stage cutting behind the pitlane entry bollard after the Mercedes forced him wide at the penultimate corner.

The battle continued to Turn 1, where Perez boldly hung on to the inside line and stayed in fourth place, with the battle then superseded by the leaders pitting.

Red Bull pulled the trigger by pitting Verstappen for fresh inters on lap 36, with Bottas following him in the next time around and easily keeping the lead, while Perez came in on the same back and rejoined behind Hamilton.

The world champion, and Leclerc up ahead, stayed out – Hamilton arguing against a Mercedes call to pit on lap 42.

Bottas, over seven seconds clear of Verstappen, who reported a steering wheel “left-hand down” issue as the final quarter approached, initially steadily closed on Leclerc on his fresh inters.

He then gained large chunks of time as the final laps approached and retook the lead with a major grip advantage on the wet line down the inside into Turn 1 on lap 47, at the end of which Leclerc finally pitted.

From there, Bottas easily ran clear of Verstappen to claim a first win of 2021 by 14.5 seconds – setting the fastest lap at one minute, 30.432 seconds on the final lap – while Perez took third after closing in on Leclerc on lap 51.

Ferrari had hoped Leclerc could close back up the leading two on his fresh inters, but he hit the bad graining phase all the drivers were finding a few laps after pitting, which meant Perez could easily take the place with a run to the outside of Turn 12.

The lap before Perez passed Leclerc, Hamilton had finally come in, Mercedes feeling it had no choice but to abandon the no-stop strategy because of Gasly’s presence in sixth – already on a second set of inters.

Hamilton initially got close to Leclerc on his new inters, but then fell back dramatically as he reached the graining phase, to which he angrily criticised Mercedes’ decision to pit him in a series of radio messages.

He was able to hold off Gasly to the flag, the AlphaTauri driver having served a five-second penalty at his stop for the lap one Turn 1 clash with Alonso, who did likewise for his lap two shunt with Schumacher.

Norris took seventh not far from Gasly’s rear, with Carlos Sainz eighth after rising rapidly up the order from the back row of the grid with a series of bold early passes – the Spaniard then also having to recover from a slow pitstop.

In that recovery, Sainz passed Lance Stroll, who finished ninth, and Esteban Ocon, who was the only driver to complete the race on a single set of tyres.

Remarkably given the conditions, all the cars finished – Ricciardo’s early stop meaning he finished behind the Alfa Romeo pair in P13 and Alonso coming home P16.

The only driver to attempt a switch to slicks was Sebastian Vettel, who tried the mediums with 22 laps to run, but he came back in after just a single tour, where he was very slow and twice went off the track, to go back to the inters.

Vettel ended up P18 – only ahead of the Haas duo, where Schumacher got back ahead of Mazepin after recovering from his Turn 2 spin as a result of the contact from Alonso.

So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas in winning his first race this season. A commanding performance in the Mercedes. As for Max Verstappen, finishing in second is fantastic for the championship and he retakes the points lead from Lewis Hamilton, who was left feeling frustrated with the pitstop.

Turkish Grand Prix, race results:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:31:04.103
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 14.584
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 33.471
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 37.814
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 41.812
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 44.292
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 47.213
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 51.526
9 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:22.018
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault +1 lap
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
14 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda +1 lap
15 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
16 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault +1 lap
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
18 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes +1 lap
19 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari +2 laps
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari +2 laps

6 thoughts to “Bottas victorious at Turkey”

  1. Turkish Grand Prix race review as reported by

    Valtteri Bottas won an engrossing Turkish Grand Prix that was run in damp conditions, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and his team mate Sergio Perez completing the podium.

    Light rain peppered the track well before the race and while the rain stopped, conditions called for intermediate tyres throughout.

    Bottas led the race away from pole, his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton having started 11th thanks to his 10-place engine related penalty, while Verstappen followed the Finn. By Lap 11, Hamilton was up into the top five having passed Pierre Gasly. The defending champion would be promoted to fourth when Sergio Perez pitted on Lap 38.

    The pit stops came thick and fast from Lap 35 as Lando Norris was first to choose new inters, Verstappen in next on Lap 37 from P2, and Bottas pitting from the lead one lap later. Charles Leclerc was released into the lead but on Lap 48 of 58 he decided the gamble to forgo a pit stop wasn’t going to pay off and came in for new inters. Bottas delivered his first win since Russia 2020 with a flawless performance from then on, a bonus point given as he also took fastest lap.

    Leclerc’s stop put Hamilton into third, the Briton seemingly trying to make it to the end on his starting tyres, or at least make it to dry conditions. The looming clouds said otherwise, and he finally boxed on Lap 51 – his tyres having turned into slicks. He was left furious, asking his team: “Why did we give up that place?!” P5 would be his final spot.

    That promoted Leclerc back into the top three but he was passed by Perez on Lap 52, the Red Bull driver taking P3 and his first podium since France. Leclerc finished fourth as Hamilton could not catch the Ferrari driver in the closing laps.

    AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took sixth, having shrugged off a five-second penalty for a Lap 1 collision that sent P5 starter Fernando Alonso into a spin. Next on the board was Lando Norris, who was one of the earliest to pit for new inters (on Lap 35) and who settled for seventh having started there.

    Carlos Sainz managed a brilliant recovery to P8 as engine penalties saw him start 19th, the Ferrari driver up into the points by Lap 14. His foray up the order was somewhat hurt by an 8.1s pit stop late on, without which he could have been in touching distance of Norris ahead.

    Lance Stroll finished P9 having started eighth for Aston Martin, bumped up a place thanks to a pass on Alpine’s P10 finisher Esteban Ocon with five laps remaining. Ocon started 12th but made up two places with Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda dropping out of points contention thanks to respective spins.

    A fine drizzle welcomed drivers on their laps to the grid, for which intermediate compounds were donned – and there was speculation that a dry line would make itself known soon after the start… a dry line that never did materialise.

    With several drivers out of their expected starting places, the surface covered in a sheen of moisture, there was a massive sense of anticipation before the lights went out. And the start delivered, Bottas leading from Verstappen – while Alonso and Gasly came together through Turn 1 to send the Spaniard into a spin, Gasly receiving a five-second time penalty for that. Alonso then tipped Mick Schumacher into a spin on Lap 2, the Spaniard receiving a five-second penalty himself.

    Hamilton made up two places in the opening laps but Yuki Tsunoda proved a tough obstacle for him, the AlphaTauri driver having started ninth (and up to P8 after Lap 1 thanks to Alonso’s spin) only to be passed at Turn 3 on Lap 8. Other big movers at the start were Alfa Romeo’s pair of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen, making up four places each at Lap 1 – while Carlos Sainz had made up five places from P19 to shrug off his engine penalty, by Lap 5.

    By Lap 10, Sainz had made it to P11; Hamilton to P6 as the pair carved their way through the field while Bottas kept a steady 2.5s lead at the front. Sainz finally made it into the points on Lap 14 but his move on Sebastian Vettel at Turn 1 ended up with the Ferrari driver making contact with the Aston Martin – leaving Vettel unamused – but with no investigation deemed necessary.

    Hamilton’s top five position was confirmed with a pass on Gasly at Turn 12, and soon he started to complain that his intermediates were starting to wear. And a little bit behind Hamilton, Sainz was well into the top 10 having passed Tsunoda at Turn 12 on Lap 18 for P9.

    The question remained: When would the slick tyres come into play? A cursory glance at the intermediates on Lap 20 showed that they were transforming into slick tyres, the tread having all but vanished. Few were worried by that development.

    Ricciardo was first to bite and pit for new intermediates, on Lap 23, with team mate Norris watching intently from seventh to see how he would perform. It was then that Tsunoda coincidentally lost his chance to score a point, spinning from 10th to emerge between the Alfa Romeos in P13.

    Back to Hamilton’s charge up the field: He was bearing down on Perez midway through the race, held up momentarily by Nikita Mazepin, the blue-flagged Haas driver not looking in his mirrors at Turn 11. On Lap 35, Hamilton made a move on Perez and they were wheel-to-wheel from Turns 12 to 14, side-by-side throughout the final three corners and down the main straight, the Mexican keeping P4 through Turn 1 much to his team’s delight.

    The pit window properly opened on Lap 35 when Norris pitted for new inters, Verstappen following suit to emerge third on Lap 37, triggering Bottas to stop a lap later alongside Perez, whose stop released Hamilton into P4. Lap 43 saw Hamilton called into the pits but he declined, causing his team to run back into the garage with those intermediate tyres in hand. The Briton suspected that the circuit may dry out soon, or maybe that he would be able to finish without pitting.

    In the lead, was Ferrari’s Leclerc – the driver on Hamilton’s train of thought, that he didn’t have to pit and could indeed stay out on his starting compounds if he wanted. A Lap 45 lockup put him right into Bottas’s grasp and the Monegasque had the unenviable task of keeping the Mercedes behind. He was then told to box and Leclerc agreed that the gamble wasn’t going to pay off, essentially letting Bottas by for the lead at Turn 1 on Lap 47 before his stop.

    Bottas would continue flawlessly, adding fastest lap to his accolades, to win for the first time since Russia 2020 – while Verstappen followed 14.5 seconds back in P2.

    From P3, Hamilton would end up pitting on Lap 51 at the request of his team to emerge fifth. He was left furious, asking his Mercedes engineers and strategists: “Why did we give up that place?!” That was followed by an ‘I told you so’ radio message as the Briton’s tyres went through the customary graining process and stopped him making headway past P5. Leclerc would finish ahead, in P4, having been passed by Perez on Lap 52.

    The Mexican therefore rounded out the top three and took his first podium since the French GP, Perez taking advantage of the fact that Leclerc’s intermediates were graining – as seemed to be the trend today – and slowing him down.

    Sixth was Gasly, who served his five-second penalty on Lap 40 and emerged sixth from that stop having started fourth on the grid. And in seventh was the McLaren of Norris, who pitted earlier than most on Lap 35 to finish where he had started.

    Sainz’s recovery drive was hampered by an 8.1-second pitstop on Lap 37, and he ended up eighth – losing out on the fastest lap bonus point to Bottas late on – ahead of Aston Martin’s Stroll in P9. Ocon drove steadily and without pitting to P10 for the final point as team mate Alonso and AlphaTauri’s Tsunoda spun out of the top 10.

    Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen made up four places each at the start but finished 11th and 12th at the flag, Raikkonen particularly incensed that he was eventually called into the pits as he desperately wanted to make it to the end on his starting compounds.

    In 13th was Ricciardo, the Australian struggling to make headway with a suspected rear brake issue. He found pace after his Lap 23 stop and made late progress, finishing ahead of 14th-place Tsunoda, who spun on Lap 37 and ended up well away from his P9 starting slot.

    Williams’ George Russell started 13th but ended up 15th, having lost out to the Alfa Romeos at the start. Next was Alonso, the Spaniard spinning early with contact from Gasly, then taking a five-second penalty for tagging Schumacher, in P16 for Alpine ahead of Nicholas Latifi, who could not recover from his Lap 1, Turn 9 spin.

    Intriguingly, Sebastian Vettel opted for mediums on Lap 38 and his ensuing laps saw the four-time champion head off the track multiple times, retreating back into the pits – with a spin at pit entry – for intermediates a lap later. He finished 18th – leaving Schumacher 19th and Mazepin last as the pair rounded out the standings for Haas.

  2. Mercedes driver and race winner Valtteri Bottas commented that this Turkey win one of my “best ever” Formula 1 races. has the news story.

    Valtteri Bottas hailed his victory in Formula 1’s Turkish Grand Prix as one of his ‘best ever’ races, after a dominant performance in Istanbul.

    The Mercedes driver led from pole position in the damp conditions, and edged clear in front of Max Verstappen through the opening phase of the race before drivers switched to a second set of inters.

    Although he briefly lost the lead to Charles Leclerc, who stayed out longer on his first set of inters, Bottas was able to pass the Ferrari before eventually coming home more than 14 seconds clear of Verstappen.

    Having been without an F1 victory since the 2020 Russian Grand Prix, Bottas said his clinical performance in Istanbul was exceptional.

    “I think from my side I have to say probably one of the best races I’ve had ever,” said the Finn.

    “Apart from one slide everything was under control. But, like I said before the race, the car has been really good in every condition and I had really good confidence with it, and really could control it.

    “It’s not easy to choose the strategy here with these conditions, in terms of when to stop and to which tyre and everything. But I’m glad everything went smooth once for me and that’s nice.”

    Verstappen had no response to the pace of Bottas and said that the need to extend the life of the intermediates meant he was in tyre preservation mode for much of the afternoon.

    “It was not easy today, the track was very greasy,” said the Red Bull driver. “We just had to manage the tyres the whole race so we couldn’t really push.

    “It just seemed like Valtteri had a bit more pace and could look after the tyres, maybe a bit better as well. But I’m of course still happy to finish second because, in these conditions, it’s also easy to get it wrong and you drop back.”

    Asked what was the most difficult phase of the race, Verstappen said: “[To] stay awake! It was just all about just managing the tyres. So you were never pushing, [you had] to make it to a certain amount of laps, and then you boxed for another set.”

  3. Sebastian Vettel has taken responsibility for the call to switch to dry tyres during the Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix in damp conditions.

    The Aston Martin driver was the first one to gamble for dry tyres in the tricky conditions at the Istanbul Park, opting to take on fresh mediums after 36 laps, with the track still wet in several places.

    The strategy, which Vettel said was a team decision but one he made the final call on, destroyed his race and fight for points as he slipped off track at Turn 4 and Turn 7 during his first lap on the medium tyres, before opting to pit immediately where he then suffered a half-spin at pit entry.

    Having switched to new intermediate tyres, Vettel finished a lowly 18th place only ahead of the two Haas drivers.

    Vettel explained the reasoning behind his call for dry tyres but knew as soon as he lost temperature the plan had failed.

    “Together [we made the dry tyre call] but in the end I made the decision, I wanted to try to go for it,” Vettel said after the race.

    “On the inters there was nothing left, so I thought the dry tyres could be as good but I couldn’t break them in and just had no grip and lost so much time as I couldn’t make them work.

    “It was worse than I expected, even if it was damp a little bit here and there, or wet. But the main thing was I couldn’t break the tyre in and then you are just sliding on the top.

    “It is a no-brainer [call] now but at that time I don’t know. I was tempted some laps before and the inters were not getting any better.

    “If you look at the inter tyres there is nothing left on them, they look like a slick, so I think I had reason but obviously it was the wrong decision.”

    Despite the Turkish GP circuit being treated since last year’s race, undergoing a water-blasting procedure which provided much more grip this weekend, Vettel still felt the track conditions were “strange” during the race as it failed to dry sufficiently despite the pre-race rain relenting.

    “The track is good fun but it was a bit strange today, similar to last year with the intermediates and staying out so long,” Vettel said, having finished on the podium in last year’s Turkish GP.

    “At some point I thought it was ready for dry tyres so I took the risk but it didn’t work.

    “Last year I was thinking 15 laps to go that I wanted to try the slick tyres when the track was a little bit worse so I thought it was worth a go but it proved to be wrong.”


  4. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton explains why the team’s tyre call left him ‘frustrated’. provides the full story.

    Lewis Hamilton believes he wasn’t on the best race strategy for the Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix and feels he should have either pitted earlier or gone to the end without stopping.

    The Mercedes driver had climbed up to third place from 11th on the grid, having taken a 10-place grid penalty coming into the race for an engine change, and was the last of the runners to make his sole pitstop for fresh intermediates on lap 50 – while Esteban Ocon was the only driver not to stop for the entire race.

    With the intermediate tyres, Hamilton’s performance started to fade due to heavy wear, and Mercedes called him in with eight laps to go, which dropped him to fifth place behind Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

    The majority of drivers suffered with a graining phase on fresh intermediate tyres, losing performance around two to three laps into the stint, meaning Hamilton dropped the rear of Leclerc and came under pressure from Pierre Gasly behind.

    While Hamilton was able to hold on to fifth place at the chequered flag, he let his frustration be known over his Mercedes team radio throughout his final stint about his race strategy.

    Speaking after the race, Hamilton felt Mercedes should have either pitted him earlier and in sequence to the drivers he was fighting or instructed him to preserve tyre life to make it to the end without pitting.

    “The tyres are bald, so you don’t know how far they’re going to go,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.

    “And so there is definitely the worry of the life of the tyre. But also I wasn’t really that fast at the end there. I was struggling at low grip. Not really sure why.

    “Then all of a sudden, I have not such bad place. But I was losing performance to the guys behind.

    “I think probably in hindsight, I should have either stayed out or come in much earlier.

    “Because when you come in with eight laps to go, you don’t have time to go through the graining phase of tyre on a drying track. So then I went through this whole sliding phase where I nearly lost four positions. A bit frustrating, but it is what it is.

    “It felt good to be in third and it was like, ‘if I can just hold on to this, this is a great result from 11th’. Fifth is worse but it could be worse.”

    Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff revealed the team’s strategy predicted Hamilton would have been caught by Perez and Leclerc had he stayed out until the finish and wanted to avoid the higher risk of tyre failure due to extreme wear.

    “Yeah, DNFing and you are losing all the points, that is obviously catastrophic,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

    “He would have been caught up by Perez and Leclerc in any case if we would have tried to stay out so that that would not have worked.

    “The conservative play, pitting early on track behind Perez and Leclerc and trying to overtake probably the best, but the probability was not the right thing to do.”

    With F1 world title rival Max Verstappen finishing the Turkish GP as runner-up to Valtteri Bottas, the Red Bull driver has regained the world championship lead by six points from Hamilton.

  5. Toto Wolff commented that the Mercedes Formula 1 gamble on old inters for Lewis Hamilton was worth it. has the news story.

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff thinks his team was right to gamble on trying to get Lewis Hamilton through Formula 1’s Turkish Grand Prix on a single set of inters.

    The world champion had made a strong recovery from 11th on the grid to run fifth behind Red Bull’s Sergio Perez during the midpoint of the race.

    But as a number of cars ahead of him pitted for fresh inters, Hamilton joined Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in electing to try to stick it out until the end without a change.

    Although that decision cost both drivers when it became clear that the inters were not going to last, Wolff thinks that Mercedes made the right approach in pushing for what could have been a much better result.

    “The intermediate obviously looked really scary but we thought that we could maybe hang out there and finish third with not stopping,” Wolff told Sky F1.

    “And, if a dry line appeared, maybe even going onto a soft tyre until the end. So we balanced between pitting, taking it very conservative in fighting with Leclerc and Perez on the track for P3, or taking a little bit of a gamble but either winning or finishing third.

    “But when we saw Leclerc dropping off and then Lewis started dropping off, it was clear we wouldn’t make it to the end.”

    Despite the later than ideal pitstop dropping Hamilton behind Perez and Leclerc, Wolff thinks that it was worth his team trying to go for something better – and said there would be no finger pointing at his strategists about points that were potentially lost.

    “We’ve never had any problems, and there is plenty of time to debate it here and on the flight,” he said. “But it’s clear in the car you just have a limited amount of information and overall I think that was worth the try today.”

    Wolff accepts that with hindsight a better option would have been to stop earlier – potentially when the idea was first discussed between the pitwall and Hamilton.

    “The correct call would have probably been taking it very conservative and pitting when everybody pitted for the intermediate, coming out behind Perez, probably behind Leclerc, and then fighting with them on track for P3,” he said.

    “That would have probably been the correct choice, but this is only with hindsight after the race.”

  6. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen says that the Formula 1 title fight won’t be ‘easy’ despite retaking the points lead. has the details.

    Max Verstappen knows the Formula 1 title fight against Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes is “not going to be easy” despite regaining the championship lead in Turkey.

    Verstappen moved six points clear of Hamilton at the top of the drivers’ standings after finishing second in a damp Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park on Sunday.

    Hamilton entered the weekend with a two-point advantage, but was forced to start 11th on the grid after an engine penalty. He recovered to finish the race fifth, albeit after Mercedes opted to risk keeping him out longer on his first set of intermediates to try and finish even higher, leading to some frustration over the radio.

    Verstappen failed to put up any real challenge to race winner Valtteri Bottas, who scored his first win of the year for Mercedes with an advantage of 14.5 seconds at the chequered flag.

    Verstappen felt that Mercedes was “definitely quicker this weekend” and that Red Bull “didn’t get it together”, proving that even after regaining the championship lead he would face a tough challenge to win the title.

    “In the wet, they seem to have a bit of the edge as well,” Verstappen said.

    “We’ll have to analyse of course why we were not competitive here, and I do think they probably stepped it up a bit more.

    “Even with the points lead, it’s not going to be easy.

    “I think I said it before we even started the weekend, so far we’ve had a really good year. It’s not going to change the world for me if I finish first or second at the end of the day. But I’m always going to give my best.

    “We’ll see again in Austin how it’s going to go. We won’t give up, we’ll always try to do the best we can.

    “Hopefully in the end, for the championship, it is going to be enough. But if it isn’t, I’m not going to sleep less.”

    Verstappen had sat within a couple of seconds of Bottas at points in the opening stint, and looked to gain an advantage by switching to a second set of intermediates before Mercedes came in.

    Mercedes reacted one lap later to ensure Bottas retained his lead, with Verstappen then opting against charging to try and cut the gap in the closing stages to ensure he kept second.

    “Considering our whole weekend, being a bit off-pace compared to Mercedes, I think we had quite a decent race,” Verstappen said.

    “There was no point where I could attack Valtteri, and he was just managing his race also very well and looking after his tyres.

    “Also I had Charles [Leclerc] quite close behind me in the first stint, he had very good pace as well. At one point, I said yeah, the tyres are pretty gone, they were completely work to slicks, so it was quite tricky out there when the track is like it was.

    “So we decided to box, and basically after the stop, 20 laps to go I think, just decided to bring it home. I anyway didn’t have the pace to fight Valtteri, so there was also no need to be within two or three-tenths to try and just follow him.

    “[I] just saved the tyres to the end basically.”

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