After a disappointing qualifying, Hamilton used every ounce of his skill and experience to bounce back and claim his seventh World Championship in style by winning round 14 at Istanbul Park. Sergio Perez managed to secure second with the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel just behind to join Hamilton on an historic F1 podium.
- Early Stages
After Saturday’s qualifying session, all the drivers were anticipating a difficult race as the mixture of fresh track tarmac and the wet surface made it almost impossible to keep their cars in a straight line.
This was revealed at the start, as the field moved off of the line tentatively and crucially for the Championship, Valtteri Bottas spun at turn one along with the Renault of Esteban Ocon.
Hamilton’s start was a mixed bag, he made up places in the first few corners but dropped back down the pack after going wide, struggling to get grip into his Mercedes’ tyres. The Championship still looked possible but it was going to be a difficult path ahead for the race win.
The two Racing Points had an excellent getaway and as Max Verstappen’s sluggish start saw him drop back, the two pink cars cruised ahead with pole sitter Lance Stroll maintaining a narrow lead over his teammate.
It was also an incredible start from both Ferrari’s, with Vettel in particular climbing up from eleventh to third by the end of lap one after profiting from Hamilton’s struggles.
- On Edge Battles and Costly Mistakes
There was plenty of action on track with the drivers pushing to the limits of available grip in the treacherous conditions. This was exhibited by Red Bull’s Verstappen, who could have challenged for the win today but made costly mistakes, most noticeably spinning off the track when battling hard with Perez for second on lap 18. He dropped down to sixth behind Vettel and Hamilton, with Sky F1’s Martin Brundle describing the move as, “not the smartest thing Max has ever done”.
Elsewhere, Hamilton was trying to push through the field but got caught behind the strong defence of a flying Vettel, who seemed to have finally found his groove in the prancing horse. Hamilton tried with all his might but could not find a way past, he was losing time and the race win was slipping away. It wasn’t until Vettel pitted that he managed to get past by opting to stay out on his intermediate tyres.
There were incidents of plenty elsewhere on the circuit, with Alex Albon spinning on lap 34, allowing Hamilton to sneak past into third and once leader Stroll pitted, the Brit kept composure to get past Perez for the lead a few laps later.
Meanwhile, Mercedes’ second driver was having a race to forget. After an awful start, Bottas was racing outside of the points after losing control of his car and spinning on multiple occasions in the testing conditions. It seemed that unless something miraculous happened, his Championship challenge was well and truly over.
- Later Stages
After the pitstops, Hamilton’s tyre management skills came into play towards the end of the race as he chose to go against his team’s strategy and stay out on intermediate tyres that were over 50 laps old.
As it turned out, those who did stay out profited massively as driver’s who pitted struggled to warm-up their tyres and fell back, including Stroll who finished ninth after leading half of the race.
Perez managed to hold on to second despite the advances of the two Ferrari’s including Charles Leclerc’s last lap dive around the outside of the final chicane, which proved costly for the Monegasque as he compromised his own defence and conceded third to who else but his teammate Vettel.
Ultimately though, the man of the moment was Lewis Hamilton, who exerted every last piece of grip from his tyres to win a race he arguable should not have been in contention for, judging from the performance of the Mercedes’ car this weekend.
In a race where after an awkward first lap, he made no mistake and even lapped his teammate on the way to take an astounding 94th victory and a record equaling seventh World Title. Emotions ran high at the chequered flag as the man from Stevenage made history once again.
No matter what your opinions are of Hamilton, it cannot be denied that what he continues to achieve inside and outside of Formula 1 is remarkable and an inspiration for anyone with a dream. He is a true all-time great, a true champion, Lewis Hamilton - Seven-Time Champion of the World.