The damp conditions and initial poor visibility on track at the Turkish GP at Istanbul Park on Sunday were precursors to a thrilling race that saw Mercedes' Valterri Bottas take the lead and Max Verstappen retake first place in the Driver's Championship of Formula One. Verstappen's rival Hamilton finished in P5. Verstappen and Perez podiums were a double feather in the cap of Red Bull who were sporting special white livery thanking engine partner Honda who will be leaving at the end of the season.
The first place podium for Bottas means he has avoided another winless season since 2018 and redeemed himself on the track that saw him spin out of control 6 times and finish 14 in last year's Turkish GP. Drizzling rain, high humidity and a slick track were the main challenges for the drivers this time around.
"It's been a while, but feels good. I think from my side probably one of the best races I've had ever," said Bottas.
"I'm happy to be on the podium. I think it's been close the whole year and I'm pretty sure in Austin it will be a good battle with Mercedes, so we just have to keep pushing, keep trying," Verstappen said to reporters after the race, asserting that tyre management and the pacing was the key to winning on the track that day.
Meanwhile Championship favourite Lewis Hamilton had a less-than-satisfactory GP as he made his way up from 11th position due to an engine penalty. Hamilton spent the initial part of the race behind Yuki Tsunoda and managed to make his way up to the top 5 where he was held at bay by a series of brilliant defensive manoeuvres by Red Bull's Sergio Perez. Hamilton eventually had to content himself with P5 after late pitstop laps before the end of the race meant the new tyres affected his pace.
Charles Leclerc came fourth after leading the race for several laps before dropping behind to fourth due to running wide on the last lap. The young Frenchman had an excellent race although his tyres were worn out by the end which affected his pace. Meanwhile, Esteban Ocon successfully ran the entire race on a single set of tyres, in defiance of other drivers like Sebastian Vettel who gambled with early pitstops to go on intermediate tyres.
Alpine's Fernando Alonso spun off-track on the first corner and was awarded a five-second pitstop penalty for a small collision with Mick Schumacher, while AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly was also awarded a penalty for colliding with Alonso. Carlos Sainz won Driver of the Day for his consistent and relentless climb from the very back of the grid where he started due to an engine penalty.
Verstappen now leads the Driver's Championship for Red Bull at 262.5 points with rival Hamilton moves to second place at 256.5 points. The next race will be held at the Austin racetrack in Texas.