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Monday, October 18, 2021

10 issues we discovered from F1’s 2021 Turkish Grand Prix

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Formulation 1’s return to Istanbul Park for 2021 might have lacked the slipping and sliding of final yr, but it supplied one other intriguing, strategy-filled race.

Valtteri Bottas scored his first win in over a year with a controlled display at the front of the pack in damp conditions, guaranteeing Max Verstappen by no means had a sniff of victory for Purple Bull.

However Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton had a harder day, preventing again from his 10-place grid penalty to complete fifth after frustration emerged over his technique. The choice to pit eight laps from the tip initially irked Hamilton, who made his emotions clear over the radio.

It has swung the factors benefit again in Verstappen’s favour, however it was a weekend that Purple Bull struggled to place up a battle to Mercedes, probably marking a swing in energy on the head of the sphere.

Listed below are 10 issues we discovered from the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix.

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The Mercedes crew cheer as Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, 1st place, takes victory

Photograph by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

1. Bottas reminded F1 of his high quality with a dominant drive

One yr on from a galling, troublesome race wherein he spun six instances in damp circumstances, Bottas atoned himself in emphatic style with what he described as the best win of his F1 career to date.

The Finn inherited pole from Hamilton after the latter’s grid penalty, however was then in a position to management proceedings on the entrance. He rapidly opened up a small margin to Verstappen that he constructed on by the opening stint, and Mercedes lined Purple Bull effectively within the swap to a second set of intermediates, guaranteeing Bottas would by no means be in hassle.

PLUS: Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings 

For good measure, he put within the quickest lap on every of the final two laps, proving simply how a lot tempo he had in hand. Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin mentioned after the race Bottas’s drive “nearly went unnoticed” as a result of it was “so achieved and easy from him”.

It was an vital reminder of the sort of drive that Bottas is able to, and the standard he’ll carry to Alfa Romeo subsequent season. It additionally confirmed the essential function he nonetheless has to play for Mercedes this yr in each championships. With out him, Verstappen can be 11 factors clear as an alternative of solely six.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, in the pits

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, within the pits

Photograph by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

2. Mercedes made the best name pitting Hamilton when it did

Hamilton may have been frustrated at the time, however Mercedes made totally the best name to pit him late on as an alternative of operating the chance of retaining him out all race.

Toto Wolff conceded after the race that the optimal time to bring Hamilton in would have been 10 laps earlier, round when the opposite automobiles got here in. However Mercedes was attempting to open up choices to get Hamilton within the thick of the battle on the entrance. Had slicks been required late on, saving a cease would have modified his end result fully.

Esteban Ocon’s late drop in tempo confirmed simply how risking it was to go the entire race with out pitting. Ocon himself thought yet one more lap would have resulted in a puncture on his front-right tyre, which was “fairly broken” by the tip.

Hamilton was prone to have misplaced locations to not less than Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc – the 2 positions he gained by staying out and rising to 3rd anyway – and would even have been in danger from Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris behind.

Much more regarding would have been the potential of a puncture or a DNF that will have been pricey within the title battle. Pirelli reckoned it was doubtful that Hamilton could have finished without a change.

All issues thought-about, to have taken the penalty and solely misplaced eight factors to Verstappen is an efficient return, particularly as Hamilton may solely achieve seven when Purple Bull took its personal energy unit hit.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, with Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, with Toto Wolff, Group Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photograph by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

3. Hamilton’s radio calls want reviewing for risk-reward steadiness

Wolff disregarded Hamilton’s radio frustration surrounding his pit cease on Sunday, saying Mercedes’ pitwall has a “thick enough skin” to understand frustration being vented.

Hamilton took to Instagram on Monday to make clear that he was not “livid” with the decision, and that you shouldn’t “count on to be all well mannered” on the radio, which may be very true. It’s naturally straightforward for drivers to get labored up within the warmth of competitors.

The larger factor for Mercedes to do will likely be to evaluation the communications and the way it weighs up not solely the chance and reward, but in addition the steadiness of the driving force versus the crew by way of making such essential selections.

Hamilton mentioned after the race that he’s a “danger taker”, so was appreciative of the prospect to go for it. And whereas the bottom misplaced to Verstappen was minimal, all issues thought-about, Mercedes will inevitably go over issues to attempt to easy out the decision-making course of the place potential.

PLUS: The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton’s bid for shock Turkish GP glory

“I believe we simply have to work on the communication to belief one another, and in a means have the ability to describe what we’re aiming for,” mentioned Wolff.

“We’ve got no downside in any respect with robust conversations on the radio earlier than you’ve gotten full data. Clearly we wouldn’t communicate like this to Lewis, as a result of he’s driving a automobile at 320 km/h. However that’s all OK, completely.

“We’re completely aligned, we’ve been on this collectively eight years, and we now have thick sufficient pores and skin to know {that a} driver within the automobile is pissed off in regards to the state of affairs, that he’ll perceive afterwards.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, battles with Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, battles with Sergio Perez, Purple Bull Racing RB16B

Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

4. Purple Bull’s efficiency affords warning indicators for the run-in

Verstappen felt happy with second place in Turkey, and rightly so. Purple Bull lacked Mercedes’ tempo all through the weekend, that means victory, even within the moist, was by no means actually on the playing cards.

However that in itself is a giant warning signal for Purple Bull. After having fun with a tempo benefit over Mercedes by the summer season months, the height coming with Verstappen’s sweep of the Austria races, it appears the tables have now turned.

“We’ll should analyse in fact why we weren’t aggressive right here,” Verstappen mentioned. “I do suppose they in all probability stepped it up a bit extra. So yeah, even with the factors lead, it’s not going to be straightforward.”

Purple Bull crew boss Christian Horner made specific be aware of Mercedes’ straight-line speed advantage in Turkey, an space his crew appeared to have the upper-hand on earlier this season.

“Their straightline pace has taken a major step just lately,” Horner mentioned. “I believe that whereas we may match them with smaller wings beforehand, now we will not get close to.”

However Mercedes additionally has its personal issues. Wolff defined that the crew was engaged on containing a difficulty on its ICE that pressured Hamilton’s change in Turkey till the tip of the season, coming on account of pushing the efficiency boundaries a lot.

It leaves each groups with niggles to resolve within the run-in. Austin has usually been a cheerful searching floor for Mercedes by the years, whereas Mexico might swing extra in direction of Purple Bull. However the image does look very completely different to a few months in the past.

Toyoharu Tanabe, F1 Technical Director, Honda, congratulates Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, 3rd position,

Toyoharu Tanabe, F1 Technical Director, Honda, congratulates Sergio Perez, Purple Bull Racing, third place,

Photograph by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

5. Perez’s strong cost got here at simply the incorrect time

The reduction was clear in Perez’s voice after taking the chequered flag in Turkey and securing solely his third podium end of the season.

It was a well-earned end result, having fended off Hamilton brilliantly simply earlier than the pit stops earlier than coming in on the proper time and getting his tyres into a superb window, permitting him to catch after which move Leclerc.

It made good on the Mexican’s declare he was feeling good with the Purple Bull RB16B automobile in Turkey, seemingly extra upbeat than he’d been on newer weekends. He might have solely been seventh in qualifying, and bought some assist early on with the Gasly/Fernando Alonso conflict, however it was nonetheless a well-executed drive.

The draw back for Purple Bull and Perez is that one among his higher weekends additionally coincided with Bottas’s better of the season. A double-podium wasn’t sufficient for Purple Bull to make up any floor within the constructors’ championship.

Nonetheless, it was a superb confidence builder for Perez after a reasonably barren run of type. He scored one level much less in Turkey than he had within the six rounds prior, however to have gone wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton – and gained – will likely be a selected increase.

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A521

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A521

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

6. Sainz’s cost exhibits the nice form Ferrari is in

To have watched McLaren declare a 1-2 in Monza and are available near successful in Russia, and to solely path by 7.5 factors within the championship is testomony to Ferrari’s current good work.

Carlos Sainz Jr admitted after follow on Friday that he was a bit unhappy to see team-mate Leclerc end so extremely on the timesheets – not for any rivalry motive, however as a result of it was clearly a superb weekend for the crew whereas he’d be beginning final due to an engine penalty.

Sainz put in a foot-perfect weekend show, the one slight blot on his copybook being his bump on Sebastian Vettel as he handed throughout his cost by the sphere. He knocked Daniel Ricciardo out in Q1, inadvertently serving to Ferrari, after which gave Leclerc a mega tow in Q2 to assist him clamber up the order.

The style with which Sainz scythed by the sphere confirmed simply how attached Ferrari was in Turkey, grabbing some hard-fought factors regardless of the gradual pit cease resulting from a signalling difficulty.

Equally spectacular was Leclerc’s potential to maintain tempo with Bottas and Verstappen by the vast majority of the opening stint. Leclerc admitted he was shocked to have carried out so, notably after operating a decrease downforce set-up than anticipated.

Once more, it speaks to the power of Ferrari proper now – and contrasts with McLaren…

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M

Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

7. McLaren’s type seems to be more and more track-specific

Ricciardo remarked on Thursday that he doubted McLaren can be taking the battle to Mercedes and Purple Bull regularly, and that its form would be more track-specific.

His prediction proved bang-on in Turkey, which was a troublesome weekend for McLaren. Norris got here residence a good seventh, however by no means actually regarded like hassling Gasly forward – explaining that the MCL35M was struggling in the circuit’s long corners.

Ricciardo’s personal struggles after dropping out in Q1 and taking a brand new energy unit contrasted tremendously with Sainz’s cost.

“I noticed Carlos minimize by the visitors and I simply couldn’t,” he mentioned after the race. “As quickly as I bought behind somebody, I simply misplaced the entrance after which it began to get {dead}.”

Within the battle for third, McLaren might want to maximise the alternatives that come its means within the closing six races, a lot because it did at Monza and so almost did in Russia. It seems to be set to take pleasure in greater highs than Ferrari within the closing levels, however consistency could also be what settles the battle to be better of the remaining.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02, Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, and the remainder of the field at the start

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21, Sergio Perez, Purple Bull Racing RB16B, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02, Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, and the rest of the sphere firstly

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

8. Penalty consistency is within the highlight as soon as once more

Alonso’s current feedback about F1’s penalties and stewarding brought about a little bit of a stir, notably on Thursday when the double world champion mentioned reaction to his move in Russia proved there were “different rules for different drivers”.

It was subsequently considerably ironic that Alonso himself was then caught up in two in-race incidents on the primary two laps: at Flip 1, when he was spun in touch with Gasly; and on the second lap when he bumped into Mick Schumacher.

The five-second time penalty handed to Gasly was harsh. The stewards argued that he was wholly to blame (albeit after updating their doc) as he was not in a sandwich of automobiles at Flip 1 – but with Perez lurking behind him on the within, it’s laborious to know the place else Gasly may have gone.

Alonso had little to say about that conflict, and was apologetic for operating into Schumacher. However the Gasly incident does once more elevate the subject of inconsistency in relation to penalties. Alonso’s race might have been ruined, however the final result of an incident will not be one thing that ought to actually be accounted for in defining the sanction.

George Russell, Williams FW43B

George Russell, Williams FW43B

Photograph by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

9. Istanbul Park was again to its finest this yr

As thrilling as final yr’s chilly, slippery Turkish Grand Prix might have been as drivers struggled on the resurfaced asphalt, we didn’t get to see this great observe at its absolute best.

Drivers have been left tip-toeing round corners, and the problem of Flip 8 was considerably nullified as these fantastic automobiles – the quickest ever in F1, which have simply six races now remaining – struggled round.

Fortunately the problems with the observe have been resolved for this yr. Drivers actually noted there was perhaps too much grip, way over they’d simulated, after the water-blasting therapy had labored completely forward of this yr’s race.

The race may need been damp and qualifying all the time confronted the specter of rain, however it was nice to see the automobiles correctly tackling one among Hermann Tilke’s finest circuit designs. Juan Pablo Montoya’s lap file from 2005 was crushed in FP1, exhibiting simply how a lot circumstances had improved.

It could be unclear when, if ever, F1 will return to Istanbul Park – having as soon as once more stepped into the breach to fill gaps left within the calendar by cancelled season regulars. However we’ll all the time have the reminiscence of watching this technology of automobiles correctly going for it right here.

Red Bull mechanics prepare the car of Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, on the grid

Purple Bull mechanics put together the automobile of Max Verstappen, Purple Bull Racing RB16B, on the grid

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

10. The 23-race calendar goes to push F1 to its restrict

The World Motor Sport Council will this week give its approval to the provisional calendar for the 2022 season, which is ready to function a record-breaking 23 races.

The calendar was a daily matter of debate by the weekend in Turkey as groups thought-about the human price of staging so many occasions – a salient level of debate with Sunday being World Psychological Well being Day.

AlphaTauri crew boss Franz Tost mentioned that staff “should go” if they cannot handle the pressures of such a schedule, however Wolff provided a very completely different view. He instructed Autosport in an interview that F1 should consider putting something in the regulations to encourage rotation, serving to make working life extra sustainable.

Perception: How F1 teams manage their mental health 

Triple-headers and packed runs of races have been a necessity in current instances as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. And whereas the riches of a bumper calendar could also be engaging for F1, there does should be some steadiness. We can’t proceed to ask extra of everybody within the paddock yr on yr, as there’ll come a tipping level.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, on the grid with his engineers

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, on the grid together with his engineers

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images



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