Despite all the difficulties encountered in this anomalous Formula 1 season, the championship continues its journey and makes a stop in Istanbul, home of the Turkish Grand Prix, the fourteenth round of the 2020 season. Initially the race was not scheduled on the calendar, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the cancellation and postponement of many races, the FIA was forced to redraw the dates of the season. Only on August 25, 2020 the final calendar, which includes seventeen appointments, is confirmed. Among these, after nine seasons of absence, is the Turkish Grand Prix. The race is held at Istanbul Park, an autodrome that has already hosted all previous editions of the race, between 2005 and 2011. Among the drivers of this season who have already disputed world championship races on this track are Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Pérez, Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel. Daniel Ricciardo had only one free practice session in the last edition, in 2011. In addition, Nico Hülkenberg was engaged for three races in this championship by Racing Point in place of one of the regular drivers, before Sergio Pérez in the British Grand Prix and the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix both held at Silverstone, and after Lance Stroll, in the first edition of the Eifel Grand Prix held at the Nürburgring. This was the first race of the season to be held outside Europe: never in the history of the Formula 1 World Championship had the first non-European race been held so late, nor after such a large number of previous races. Despite the problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Grand Prix was open to the public, with 40.000 tickets sold.
However, afterwards, the authorities were forced to announce that the event would be held behind closed doors, as was the case between the Austrian Grand Prix, the inaugural race of this season, and the Italian Grand Prix, and as was the case with the first edition of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. The Tuscan Grand Prix, introduced by the FIA to replace races previously cancelled or postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russian Grand Prix, the debut of the Eifel Grand Prix and the return of the Portuguese Grand Prix, remain the only races of the season with spectator attendance in the grandstands. The Grand Prix is sponsored by DHL, as in the last edition of the race in 2011. Alfa Romeo Racing celebrates its 500th Grand Prix in Formula 1, including races held between 2006 and 2010, under the name BMW Sauber. The debut took place in the 1993 South African Grand Prix, with Karl Wendlinger and JJ Lehto at the wheel. It achieved victory in the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, with Robert Kubica. Red Bull Racing, on the other hand, is contesting its 300th Grand Prix in the world championship. Since 2005, the Milton Keynes-based Austrian team has collected four constructors' titles between 2010 and 2013, four drivers' titles with Sebastian Vettel, 63 victories, 61 pole positions and 180 podiums. Approaching the race weekend on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff confirms the use of the black livery on the single-seaters again next season, as a sign of closeness to the Black Lives Matter movement supported by world champion Lewis Hamilton.
"We're going to wear black again in 2021. I think black is great. In 2022 there will be a drastic regulatory change and at that time we will once again claim our Silver Arrows heritage, but the strong anti-racist spirit will still remain very important to us. We have also renewed our commitment by signing the new Concord Pact, although now you will be able to leave at the end of each season. This, however, will not be a problem. As Ola Kallenius said, it would be like Bayern Munich deciding to quit soccer. Motorsport is in our DNA".
Two days later, on Thursday, November 5, 2020, the International Automobile Federation announced the debut of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on the following season's calendar. The Grand Prix, the fourth in the Middle East after those of Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Sakhir, and to be run in November, will be held on a night-time city track through the streets of Jeddah, the country's second most populous city. Saudi Arabia becomes the 33rd state in history to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix. On Saturday, November 7, 2020, the organizers of the last three races, the Bahrain Grand Prix, the Sakhir Grand Prix, which was introduced in this championship to deal with the emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in order to ensure a certain number of races, and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, announce that the races will be held behind closed doors, as already occurred for the Austrian Grand Prix, the opening race of the season, and the Italian Grand Prix, along with the first edition of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, another event introduced in this championship to replace races which had previously been postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic.
"I sincerely thank the Crown Prince for his leadership and support during the preparations for Formula 1 in Bahrain, in what will be a very different event for all participants".
States the circuit's CEO, Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa.
"While we will not be able to accommodate many fans at our events this year, we are pleased to have the opportunity to recognize the bravery and efforts of our frontline health workers and first responders by awarding them all participation in person. We are determined to put on a show for the hundreds of millions of people who will be watching from home around the world".
Two days later, on November 9, 2020, it is announced that the Vietnam Grand Prix, scheduled to take place on a street circuit in the streets of the capital Hanoi, which had its scheduled debut this season, is removed from the calendar for the following season, due to the arrest of the President of the Hanoi People's Committee, who played a major role in the organization of the Grand Prix. Nevertheless, the FIA released the draft of the 2021 season's races, which consist of twenty-three rounds. Never in the history of Formula 1 has there been such a high number of races in a single year. All races cancelled in this championship due to the Covid-19 pandemic would make their return to the world championship. It would start on March 21, 2021 with the Australian Grand Prix, and end on December 5 with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The exclusion of the Vietnam Grand Prix in Hanoi, originally scheduled already this season, but first postponed and then cancelled due to the pandemic, as the fourth round of the championship on April 25, 2021, will be replaced by another Grand Prix to be announced later.
The return of the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort, already scheduled for this championship, but first postponed and then cancelled due to the pandemic, is set for September 5, 2021, while the debut of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah is scheduled for November 28, 2021, before the final round in Abu Dhabi. Finally, on November 12, 2020, it was announced that the contract for the new Sao Paulo Grand Prix, to be held on the Interlagos circuit, previously home to the Brazilian Grand Prix, was signed until the 2025 season. Making this known is the governor of the province of São Paulo, Joao Doria, who states:
"I am proud to reveal, together with the mayor of the city Bruno Covas, that Formula 1 has just renewed the contract for the race in São Paulo until 2025. The contract will be signed by the city and Liberty Media. It is a great victory for the State, for the city and for Brazil".
When there are only three rounds left to the end of the championship, Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers' standings, with an 85-point margin over his teammate Valtteri Bottas. The championship now seems largely in favour of the British driver, who in order to win his seventh drivers' title already in Turkey, the fourth in a row, and equal the number of titles held by the former German Formula 1 World Champion, Michael Schumacher, should: win; finish second, with Bottas winning but no fastest lap; finish third or fourth, with Bottas second; finish fifth, with Bottas third; finish sixth, with Bottas third but no fastest lap; finish seventh, with Bottas fourth; coming eighth, with Bottas fifth; coming ninth, with Bottas sixth; finish tenth, with Bottas sixth but no fastest lap; not finishing in the points, with Bottas seventh but no fast lap. Mercedes, however, has already secured the constructors title, the seventh consecutive, a new record in the history of Formula 1, breaking the record held by Ferrari, with six, established from 1999 to 2004, in the previous Grand Prix, in the first edition of the Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna. In anticipation of the Turkish Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole supplier of tires, announces the use of C1, C2 and C3 compound tires, the hardest of the range among those available, not only because of its layout, but also because the track has recently been resurfaced. There are two zones indicated by the International Automobile Federation where drivers can use the Drag Reduction System: the first zone is located between turn 11 and turn 12, with the point for determining the gap between drivers placed before turn 9; the second zone is established on the pit straight, with the detection point set after turn 13.
The Federation thus adds a second DRS zone that can be used unlike the 2011 Turkish Grand Prix, when DRS was introduced in Formula 1 that season. On that occasion the mobile device could be used only the section between Turn 11 and Turn 12. In addition, the Federation places sensors outside the first and the last corner, to make the drivers respect the limits of the track, causing the cancellation of the lap time and of the next one in case they exceed the limits on the last lap (at the end of the first free practice session on Friday, an additional area of the track where the drivers will be forced to respect the limits will be added, at the exit of the sixth corner). Former Formula 1 driver, Briton Derek Warwick, is appointed assistant race commissioner for the race. Warwick has already performed this function in the past, most recently at the first Eifel Grand Prix. On November 7, 2020, Williams replaces the staff provided for this race. Some team members have been placed on self-isolation after coming into contact with personnel who tested positive for Covid-19 at the last two Grands Prix in Portimão and Imola. As a team note reads:
"While we will not provide proven details of any individual, we can confirm that all cases have been handled in line with the FIA guidelines on Covid-19: working closely with the Federation to ensure the safety of our staff is a top priority. In order to ensure compliance with these guidelines, several members of our team engaged on track are in fiduciary isolation as they have been identified as close contacts of the individuals who tested positive. In accordance with our internal Covid protocols, a number of factory team members will therefore fill vacant roles for the upcoming weekend in Turkey".
On Friday, November 12, 2020, Simon Roberts, the team principal of the team since the first edition of the Tuscan Grand Prix, will also test positive to the swab carried out at the end of the Italian Grand Prix by Claire Williams, so much so that he will not be present at the event. His place will be taken by the team manager, Dave Redding, and the project manager, Adam Carter. Ahead of the next round of the world championship, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff returns to talk about the recent win of the World Constructors' Championship:
"Seven consecutive constructors' titles is something we can be proud of. An unprecedented achievement in Formula 1 and in the sport. We made sure everyone could take a moment - safely - to celebrate this, some at home and some at the factory, and to reflect on this fantastic achievement. The result at Imola tells us that now only Lewis and Valtteri are in contention for the drivers' title. We have a duty to give our drivers the best car and our fans a season finale in style. We will continue to push hard in the last four races. Formula 1 returns to Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix after nine years, which means we will once again be dealing with uncertainties this weekend. We showed in both Portimao and Imola that we can learn quickly, which is important on tracks we have never visited. The Istanbul track has great corners, like the famous 8, and I am curious to see how the 2020 single-seaters will lap here".
On the other hand, Sebastian Vettel is happy to be back racing at Istanbul Park, after so many years of waiting:
"I am happy to be back at Istanbul Park, a circuit on which I have very fond memories. Here, for example, you can say that my career in Formula 1 began, because in 2006 with the BMW Sauber I got the best time in the second free practice session on Friday. I then won here in 2011, the last time we came for the Turkish Grand Prix. It is a very interesting circuit and nice to drive. There are several changes in elevation that are much more pronounced than it appears on television, some passages, then, are really exciting. I'm obviously referring to turn 8 with its multiple radius, but on this track at a technical level there really is a bit of everything. I think that even those who have never driven on it will like it right away".
Among the drivers who have never raced on this track is Charles Leclerc, who comments:
"For me it will be the first time at Istanbul Park. I've seen some videos and I've heard about the track from people who have already raced there and I've only had positive feedback. I know that it is a very varied track, with changes in gradient and spectacular curves. In particular, I'm expecting good sensations from turn 8: we'll see what it's like to drive around it with today's cars. This will be new for everyone".
And for Lando Norris, the Turkish weekend will also be a new experience:
"Istanbul Park will be a new challenge for me this weekend, as I've never raced there; I'm looking forward to it. From what I've seen on the online videos, I'd say it has everything to make for an exciting race. Obviously when people talk about this track they mention Turn 8; with this year's cars it's going to be fun to take that kind of turn, with various apexes. The battle in the middle of the pack is so close that three teams are separated by just one point. I know everyone in the team will give their all to do our best this weekend. Hopefully this circuit will give us more overtaking opportunities than Imola, so we can try to rack up some important points".
Carlos Sainz Jr., on the other hand, talks about the open fight in the constructors' championship, which McLaren, Racing Point and Ferrari are contending:
"We have managed to collect important points in the last few races and the fight for third place among the Constructors is extremely tight, as only one point separates us from our rivals. In recent years I don't remember such a close challenge between the teams in the middle of the pack. We can't miss any opportunity and every session of the weekend is important. Being able to extract the maximum from the car already on Friday and then in qualifying can make a big difference in view of the race. Every little detail is important and with only four races left we have to stay focused. I doubt that anyone, at the beginning of the year, could have predicted that we would be racing in Istanbul, but it is fantastic to be here. It's a new track for me and for many others, very interesting at first sight and definitely old school, which should provide good overtaking opportunities. Hopefully we can put on a good show for the fans and bring home a good result".
James Key, technical director of McLaren, talks about the pitfalls of the Turkish circuit, in view of the challenge that awaits the teams until the end of the championship:
"It's great to travel to a different circuit than the ones we've visited in recent years. The last time we raced in Turkey was in 2011, so it's been a long time. It's one of those very technical tracks that is fantastic to drive and requires a lot of attention, especially at turn eight. This is a track that has a mix of high and low speed corners, with long straights as well. Choosing the best wing level will be one of the challenges. Since 2011, the regulations have changed a lot, so even though it's a track we know quite a bit about, with today's cars it will be very different. We expect lap times to be several seconds faster and some of the slower corners in 2011 will become medium speed corners. There is a lot to learn. In addition, we will have to understand the new asphalt well; it is often smooth but also with low grip and, during the weekend, it can evolve a lot. It will be fundamental, as in the last outings on circuits that are new to us, to find the balance between tires and set-up. In a compressed and particular season like this one, we are approaching the season finale very quickly. Returning to or visiting new circuits has been a great technical challenge. With four races to go, everything is still in play. We are in a challenging period, in which we have to close 2020, turn to 2021, where we will change power unit supplier, and of course also focus on our 2022 project. Credit goes to the entire team, which continues to work hard this season despite the circumstances everyone is facing".
And James Key is right, as on Friday 13 November 2020 the track conditions are very difficult. The asphalt, recently laid, is very slippery, and in addition the track is wet in several places.
The organizers, in fact, in order to remove more oil on the asphalt, have decided to clean the track. The fastest driver in FP1 is Max Verstappen, who sets a time of 1'35"077 on Hard tires; a time more than thirteen seconds faster than what was estimated in the simulator by the team. The Dutchman completes twenty-nine laps, using part of the time to perform aerodynamic tests, so that he snatches the best performance, which belonged to his teammate Alexander Albon, only at the end of the session. Behind the Red Bull duo is Charles Leclerc, who precedes Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel. The first five drivers are within a little more than five tenths, while Daniil Kvyat, sixth, is over a second and a half. The two Mercedes cars were disappointing, with Valtteri Bottas ninth and Lewis Hamilton fifteenth. Carlos Sainz Jr. runs only a few laps, before an electrical problem on his McLaren forces him to retire from the tests. Max Verstappen is confirmed as the fastest even in the second free practice session. The Dutchman clearly lowered his morning time, completing a lap in 1'28"330, and he proves to be competitive also in the race simulation. In the afternoon the track is partially warmed up by the sun. Behind Verstappen appears Leclerc, 0.4 seconds behind. Behind Leclerc are the two Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton focusing more on the research of the set-up for the race. At the end of the practice Ferrari will be fined 1.000 euro by the FIA as Charles Leclerc exceeded the speed limit in the pit lane. Hamilton, at the end of the first day of practice, will heavily criticize the track conditions:
"It's terrible, a bit like there are wet patches a bit in every corner. We have slick tires, we accelerate and it's a moment to go into power oversteer. This also happens because we are far below the operating window of the tires, which are also very hard and do not work when it is ten or twenty degrees lower. The new asphalt then is also very smooth and the oil is thrown off the surface. It's crap, but with a capital M. This track is fantastic and I really don't understand why they wanted to spend all these millions to resurface it... I know it was unused for a long time, but maybe they could have simply cleaned it rather than wasting their money. So it's even worse than Portimao, which also had new asphalt. Our tires don't work and it's like driving on ice, so it's impossible to enjoy the turns as we normally would on a ride on the ups and downs of Istanbul. Of course, softer tires would have helped us for sure... The Hard are useless, the Medium so-so, while the Soft are already starting to work a little bit better. With softer choices it would have been easier, even if it is a very complex circuit and we don't know what would have happened in turn 8 with softer tires".
And Sergio Perez is also of the same opinion:
"It was really complicated today and not because of the low temperatures... the absence of grip is another important factor. When I did the track walk yesterday it was like walking on a marble floor, like the ones you find in the kitchen. It's really slippery and I think it will be like that all weekend. It's a shame we weren't able to try a really fast lap because this track is really great. I'm confident that we'll have a satisfying weekend here and that there are plenty of opportunities for us. From what we learned today, strategy will be a key element and guessing it can make a big difference. The battle in the middle of the pack will be very close and I hope we can be up front as early as tomorrow".
An idea practically shared unanimously by all the drivers, as demonstrated by the words expressed by Charles Leclerc:
"At the beginning of the tests the very poor grip of the track did not convince me at all and I thought the day was going to be very bad, but after a few laps I really enjoyed lapping with so little grip. A Friday like that is obviously not very profitable, because you don't learn much, but in terms of driving it was a lot of fun and we were also competitive. I don't know how much better the track conditions are going to get over the weekend, so it's good that we did a lot of miles today to get a better understanding of the conditions. Hopefully we can maximize the result tomorrow. I don't think I've ever had such low grip on slick tires before: it really feels like being on ice. The weather forecast doesn't look good for tomorrow and I really don't know how things could go in the rain, so tomorrow will be a very complex day. However if we do everything perfectly we could be quite competitive and there could be some good opportunities for us".
Sebastian Vettel, who is wearing a special helmet in Istanbul depicting the rainbow flag to support the FIA and Liberty Media's #WeRaceAsOne campaign, added:
"Today was a very special day since the asphalt is very recent and consequently really slippery. Obviously at the end of the day the situation has definitely improved and I think that progressively we will have a better and better performing track. We have been able to be quite consistent in terms of performance, although it's too early to say that we have a clear picture of the forces on the field. Today it was mainly a matter of finding the rhythm and lapping as much as possible because we gradually gained confidence, both with the car and with the track. In the final part of the second session we were all getting faster and faster. However, I don't think that everyone's potential emerged as some seemed to have struggled more than others to get the tires working. Tomorrow the third free practice session will be very important because the track will evolve further and there could also be rain".
The one who doesn't talk about the circuit conditions in a negative way is Max Verstappen, who was comfortable with his Red Bull:
"I think it was a pretty positive day for us and the car is behaving well, so I'm satisfied. I think the preparation we did before we got here was good, but afterwards we were good at reacting to the track conditions. It's very slippery but eventually it's like that for everyone, so we have to adapt. I think we are still five seconds slower than what the times should be here. I hope it's not raining because otherwise we will need studded tires! I don't think softer tires would have made a difference, we went faster going from hard to soft but it's all down to the asphalt. Surely Mercedes will be back in front tomorrow, so I hope we can have a good qualifying and then in the race we'll see what can happen".
And his teammate, Alex Albon, is also enthusiastic at the end of the first day of practice:
"It was a positive day and it's always fun to try out a new track. In both FP1 and FP2 it was almost like driving on an ice rink and it's a bit strange because it's not normal to be driving something that feels like a drift car. You keep sliding all over the place, which is fun, but it's not like driving a Formula 1 car. To get the tires up to temperature you have to push beyond your comfort zone and it's complicated, but in the end that's how it goes. We expected the soft tires to make things a little easier in terms of grip, but they didn't help much, so I don't know what the teams will do for qualifying. It looks like we're all going to have to use the softs, plenty of fuel like it's a race stint and keep rolling. Tonight we will look at all the data, tomorrow we will see how the conditions will be and what can happen".
Unlike his teammate, Valtteri Bottas does not complain too much about the track conditions, and indeed analyzes the various behaviors of the tires:
"When I first went on the track it felt like a rally, it was something very far away from a Formula 1 standard. But I had fun driving around experimenting a bit with the car. In the end it was actually fun. The asphalt is new and very smooth, making it difficult to warm up the tires. It is crucial in these conditions to get them up to temperature. We had these problems during winter testing, but not to this extent. The Soft tires were the best, they give the most grip even though we had a bit of graining on the front. There is a lot to learn from today, it is difficult to make the right decisions, not only in terms of setup but also in terms of strategy for the race".
Speaking of tires, at the end of the first day of testing Pirelli announced the need to increase the pressure of all the tires by one psi, as the cars are showing more aerodynamic load than expected.
As for the dry tires, the pressure is increased to 24 psi in the front and 21 psi in the rear. Saturday 14th November 2020 the track conditions worsen, due to the heavy rain that hits the track, and the drivers face the difficulty of getting the extreme wet tires up to temperature. In addition to this, there is also less grip, compared to Friday, due to Pirelli's decision regarding tire pressure. For the third time, Max Verstappen gets the best time of the session, ahead of Charles Leclerc by almost a second. The Dutchman gets the time on intermediate wet tires, as in the first part of the session the intensity of the rain is still weak. The Monegasque, on the other hand, crashes into Ocon at low speed, but luckily both drivers manage to complete the session. Antonio Giovinazzi, on the other hand, loses control of his single-seater, ending up against the barriers. In third place is Alexander Albon, ahead of Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel. Eighth is Valtteri Bottas, who runs only four laps, while Hamilton does not set a good time, as well as the two Williams drivers. The situation on track, at the beginning of the qualifying, is still rainy, so much so that all the drivers are on wet tires, some choosing the intermediates and others the extreme rain tires. Max Verstappen is the first driver to join the track, but is also the author of a driving mistake. The first driver to complete a lap is Lando Norris, in 2'07"947, forty seconds slower than the time set in the third free practice. After that, Sergio Pérez, Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas take turns at the top of the timesheet. The announcement of the arrival of heavy rain leads all the drivers to immediately look for a time. The two Ferrari are close to the elimination zone, while Ocon and Bottas manage to lower significantly their reference time, despite the rain. Shortly after, Ocon takes the lead again, with a time of 2'06"115, after the cancellation of Valtteri Bottas' time for exceeding the track limits. As there are just under seven minutes to go before the end of the session, the race direction shows the red flag due to excessive rain. The eliminated drivers, when the session is interrupted, are Charles Leclerc, Romain Grosjean, Pierre Gasly and the two Williams. At 1:55 p.m. the session resumes, thanks to the improvement of the weather conditions. The track conditions are still difficult, however, so much that Kimi Räikkönen leaves the track and risks contact with Leclerc, while going for an overtake.
The Mercedes cars restart late, trying to keep the tires on for longer with the thermocover, in an attempt to warm up the compound as much as possible. Leclerc also goes off the track, at the first corner, as does Romain Grosjean. After the Frenchman's exit from the track, the session is interrupted again, this time only for five minutes, given the danger that, with the prolonged interruption, visibility on the track for the drivers will be lacking. Q1 resumed with just over three minutes to go. The track conditions have now improved and the classification situation becomes very fluid. Verstappen improves the time of the first sector by two seconds, Daniil Kvyat is the author of a spin, while Leclerc remains far from the top times; the Dutchman closes in 1'57"485, eight seconds better than Ocon's time. Albon is second, but two seconds behind Verstappen. Räikkönnen is third, four seconds behind. Giovinazzi is also up to eighth, while Ocon does not improve, but remains sixth. The two Mercedes also enter Q2 at the last attempt. Kevin Magnussen, Daniil Kvyat, George Russell, Grosjean and Nicholas Latifi are eliminated. Q2 is restarted while a rescue crane is still picking up Latifi's car, which was stationary at turn 8. In the meantime, the race direction puts under investigation the times obtained in Q1, during the yellow flags display, following Kvyat's exit from the track. McLaren drivers opt for intermediate wet tires, appearing slower than Kimi Räikkönen who, instead, uses extreme wet tires. The other Alfa Romeo driver, Giovinazzi, is third, then overtaken by Ocon and Gasly. It was Daniel Ricciardo's turn to take second place, before the arrival of Max Verstappen, who stopped the clock at 1'57"125. Stroll was second, two tenths behind the Dutchman, before being beaten by the other Racing Point driver, Sergio Pérez. The Mercedes are not competitive: Bottas is fourth, while Hamilton is fifth, two seconds behind the Finn. In the following minutes the track is again improving: first Albon (1'56"721) and third Räikkönen. Lance Stroll beats again Albon, while Räikkönen regains the second place. Verstappen lowers the time from 1'53"486 to 1'52"036. The Mercedes cars go up, with Bottas second, but one second and seven tenths behind. But the Dutchman of the Red Bull obtains times unreachable for the opponents: he files again his time, up to 1'50"293. The moment of glory for Red Bull is confirmed by the second time obtained by Albon. In the end, the access to Q3 is for pairs of cars: the two Red Bull, the two Mercedes, the two Racing Points, the two Alfa Romeos and the two Renaults.
The drivers of McLaren (Lando Norris eleventh, and Carlos Sainz Jr. thirteenth) and Ferrari (Sebastian Vettel twelfth, and Charles Leclerc fourteenth) are eliminated, as well as Gasly, fifteenth. In the final phase, the drivers use rain tires, except for Ocon and Pérez. Max Verstappen closes his first attempt in 1'52"326, a time that appears less fast than the best of Q2. Albon and Räikkönen are four and five seconds behind, respectively. Then comes Valtteri Bottas, who is second, but more than four seconds behind, while Hamilton is only fifth, almost five seconds behind the Dutchman. Lance Stroll beats Bottas' time and is second, before the arrival of his teammate, Sergio Pérez who, on intermediate tires, is first with a time of 1'52"037. The Mexican is the author, shortly after, of a spin. The choice of the type of tires is very delicate: the two Mercedes opt for intermediate tires, but Kimi Räikkönen gets the third position with extreme wet tires. Verstappen, who complains about the low grip of his tires, is called back to the pits during his fast lap, which could have given him pole position. Pérez, still on intermediate tires, lowers the limit to 1'49"321. Verstappen recovers the second position, but is still 1"3 behind Pérez. Meanwhile Daniel Ricciardo is fourth and the other Renault driver, Ocon, is sixth. Lance Stroll takes the pole position, with 1'47"765. Not competitive Hamilton, who is only sixth; worse Bottas, who is ninth. The first row is completed by Verstappen, while the second is conquered by the teammates of the first two, that is Albon and Pérez. Lance Stroll takes his first career pole position, becoming the hundredth driver to achieve this result. Also for his team, Racing Point, it is the first pole position start, 40th different manufacturer. Under the previous name of Force India, the last pole position was achieved with Giancarlo Fisichella, in the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.
Stroll took the front row from the second position in the 2017 Italian Grand Prix and is the first Canadian to capture pole position since the 1997 European Grand Prix, when Jacques Villeneuve started from pole. He is also the first Canadian to take pole position outside of the Villeneuve family. It is the first pole position for a car equipped with a BWT Mercedes power unit, the name of the engines available to Racing Point. For a car with the number 18 it's the first pole position since the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, at that time conquered by Pastor Maldonado on Williams. This marks the end of a string of fourteen consecutive starts in first position by Mercedes. At the end of qualifying, Sergio Pérez and Carlos Sainz Jr. are summoned by the stewards because the Spaniard has obstructed the Mexican driver during a phase of Q2. The stewards decide to penalize the McLaren driver with three positions on the grid, and to take away one point on his Superlicence. Lance Stroll, Lando Norris and George Russell are also summoned for not slowing down enough under yellow flags, during Q3 for Stroll and during Q1 for Norris and Russell. No action is taken against the Canadian Racing Point driver, as the times of the individual sectors - as explained in the official document - do not show this clearly because the track was drying quickly and each lap was faster than the previous one, while the British McLaren and Williams drivers are both penalized by five positions on the grid, and both are deducted three points on their Superlicence. No further action was taken against Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly, despite both passing through turn eight when a single yellow flag was shown, and for Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas, Daniil Kvjat, Lance Stroll, Sergio Pérez and Lewis Hamilton, who were shown a double yellow flag at the same turn in both cases during Q1. Still in a state of disbelief at the end of qualifying, Lance Stroll spoke about his emotions at achieving his first career pole position:
"I have no words, I'm in shock. I didn't expect to be here. After FP3 there were a lot of doubts and uncertainties. Before qualifying we didn't seem so competitive but I'm really happy now. I put together a great lap at the end. I had a lot of pressure, I only had one attempt because from wet tires we switched to intermediates. Then I had traffic, Valtteri spinning in front of me. I did one lap at the end, I only had that to hit the target but I felt good in the car. I got every corner right, I put everything together well and it's a nice way to get back on track after difficult weeks. Since Mugello everything was going wrong for me, now I feel good, great. We knew we were ahead, but in these conditions there's no time to think about what's around you, you just have to think about the corner in front of you. Once I mounted the intermediates we knew we were in a good condition. This is one of the highest moments of my career. As a kid you dream of moments like this. Tomorrow? Now let me go to sleep happy, we'll think about it tomorrow for the race".
After dominating the entire weekend so far, Max Verstappen is incredulous to have lost pole position in the last moments of Q3:
"Even before with the intermediates we had little grip. The track was better in Q3 but the intermediates were terrible for us. With the extreme wet tires we were doing very well, I felt comfortable. But in the end it didn't go well. Race optics? At the moment I'm disappointed, it's obvious. Tomorrow we can do well, but when you're first all the time and then you finish second it's not what you want. But the points are awarded tomorrow, we hope to have a good race".
And a little later in the press conference, he will add:
"For the first time this season I'm sitting here angry, that says it all. To be second is very disappointing. You can't look at what others have performed to judge yours, you have to look at yourself and clearly in Q3 it didn't go well. That's why I'm pissed, because when it counts it's not going well. It's extremely disappointing when you're first in every round and then not when it counts, that's not what I like. With the intermediate tires it was difficult, while with the extreme wet tires we were very comfortable, without any big problem. Something is clearly not working for us on that tire. Overtaking here is difficult because there is only one line and if you go outside of that, then you lose grip. We will have to manage that".
It's big celebration at Racing Point, as Sergio Perez is going to start third on the grid:
"It's a great day for the team and I'm very happy. In Q1 I had to abort my best lap due to yellow flags and this almost cost me access to Q2, especially because others did not slow down with double yellow flags. Luckily, we barely made it through. Once in Q3, we decided to go out on intermediate tires because I was confident we could get them up to temperature and make them work. It paid off and lap by lap we improved by being fast. I think I could have been on pole today, but on my final lap with the best tires Giovinazzi was ahead of me in turn 5, went off the track and then came back in front of me forcing me to slow down. Despite this, I'm very happy with the third position, especially because we will start from the clean side of the track compared to the second pitch. We can be proud of how we improved from one day to the next, we were really strong in the wet. We will have to see what is possible in the race tomorrow, anything can happen. We know Mercedes will come back up and Max will be strong, but we hope to have a good first lap. I expect a tricky start because it will be difficult to warm up the tires quickly, but I hope we can get an advantage from our position and bring home important points for the team".
Alex Albon, fourth in qualifying, is not only unhappy with his position, but he also lashes out at the FIA, which he says allowed qualifying to take place in extreme conditions:
"I too would have enjoyed myself in front of the television. But I can assure you that losing grip in sixth or seventh gear suddenly without any warning is anything but fun. Formula 1 was lucky today that there wasn't a serious accident. Every time we drove through Turn 2 and approached Turn 3 it was a sort of coin toss. We even came back onto the track with a crane on the track that was removing Latifi's Williams. I think we could have afforded a five-minute wait. Evidently, though, the race officials were particularly afraid of the arrival of the sunset and the sudden drop in visibility".
Valtteri Bottas, still virtually in contention for the World Championship title, will start ninth on the grid, while Lewis Hamilton will start ahead of him in sixth:
"It's all a very challenging weekend, but today was really challenging. We have a great single-seater, but at the end of the day it's the tires that connect the car to the track, and if you can't get the tires working and you don't get grip, it doesn't matter how strong your single-seater is. The team that was able to make the tires work ended up in front, but clearly we didn't do a good enough job. I really struggled with the Intermediates in Q3, they weren't warming up at all. It's not the grid position I wanted, but I'm looking forward to racing, I have nothing to lose".
It went even worse for Ferrari's drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, twelfth and fourteenth respectively:
"I have no explanation, normally I like to be optimistic but this time I really don't understand what happened. This morning it was raining and I was very confident with the car. In qualifying I don't know what happened, but it was a disaster. I couldn't stay on track, we were taking six seconds while this morning we were equal to Red Bull. I don't have anything to explain it; I definitely wasn't perfect, but six seconds seems like a lot. We have to work and understand why we struggle in the rain and with extreme wet tires. It's not the first time, it happened in the past, but the gap today is really big. There is no explanation".
Declares the Monegasque, while the German driver adds:
"Our problem today was being able to get the tires up to temperature, and in a situation like today even a few degrees can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, we weren't able to exploit the car's potential and in this sense I think Wet tires were the worst compound for us. For sure today the car was worth more than twelfth place, but not in similar track conditions. Tomorrow however, even if we are in the middle of the group, the race will be interesting because of the characteristics of the asphalt that I think are unprecedented, even if in Austin in 2012, with the newly resurfaced track, we saw something similar. Yesterday's dry sessions were very difficult but also fun. It's clear that it won't be easy for us, but I'm convinced that there's a chance to recover from the position from which we started".
Laurent Mekies, who replaces Ferrari's team principal Mattia Binotto, having him remained at Maranello, says:
"A very disappointing qualifying, no use hiding it from us. We practically never managed to reach the best operating window for the tires except for the last run of Q1. It had already happened at the beginning of the season in Austria that we were struggling in wet conditions but this morning we were competitive on intermediate tyres and so we hoped we could repeat this in qualifying. Instead, especially with the extreme wet tires, the drivers never had the chance to push as they would have liked. Throughout the session we saw big fluctuations in performance, confirming how difficult it was for everyone to get the most out of the tires. It's a pity because until this morning it seemed that our package could be competitive in the fight in the middle of the group but now it will be hard to recover. Having said that, as always we will do our best to bring home as many points as possible. The race will be very long and full of unknowns, also related to weather conditions, and we will try to take advantage of every possible opportunity".
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto, who remained in Maranello, comments from Italy on his absence in the pits and the disappointing results obtained in Istanbul:
"Clamorous not to be in Turkey? I think we have to play our role at our best. There is not only the race weekend, which is the final part. Here in Maranello there are thousands of people to manage and this is also in the role of the team principal. It will happen again next season with the twenty-three races. It will be a special year, there are still important weeks of development".
About the track conditions in Istanbul, he states:
"You can't criticize Formula 1 for the conditions in Istanbul, it's a difficult situation. I take my hat off to them for organizing the race, I think the show is there and I think the drivers are enjoying themselves, even though it is not easy for them. The more confidence they have, the better, because they could find the same conditions in qualifying. We are focused on the temperature of the tires, to drivers like those in F1 there is little advice you can give. They know what to do, we are focused on all the other aspects. Yesterday everyone lapped and today too. Conditions at the limit but the same for everyone. Today the rain makes everything more complicated. We have to concentrate on the car and on the qualification and it will give the driver a car to are the right confidence".
However, about the team’s improvements, the team principal admits:
"The improved Ferrari was seen in Portimao and also in Imola, except in qualifying there. And I believe that here there can be a confirmation. If it can be a good weekend? Yes, our goal is to do better and better. From here to the end of the year as much as we can do in terms of development we will do. Replace the wind tunnel with virtual simulation only from 2030? We are going more and more in this direction, also because it costs less. But we are still not far enough ahead of the technology today. I'm not saying no, but the discussion deserves further study".
Sunday, November 15, 2020 rain falls on the track until a few minutes before the start. The track is very wet, so much that all drivers except the Williams duo are on wet tires. Due to the violation of the parc fermé by Scuderia AlphaTauri’s mechanics on Pierre Gasly's car, the French driver is penalized with twenty positions on the starting grid. George Russell is also penalized with twenty positions on the starting grid for the replacement of several power unit components. Before the start, Antonio Giovinazzi ends up in the gravel during the formation laps, but manages to reach the starting grid and take part to the race regularly. George Russell, at the moment of returning to the pits after some installation laps, hits a wall, damaging the front wing. He is able to take the start, but only from the pit lane. At the start Lance Stroll comfortably keeps the lead, while Max Verstappen has a bad start and is overtaken by several cars; Sebastian Vettel is author of a very good start, going from eleventh to fourth. At the first corner Esteban Ocon, pushed by his teammate Ricciardo, and Valtteri Bottas touch each other: both go into a spin. During the first lap, Lewis Hamilton makes a mistake at turn 9, being passed by Vettel, then by the Red Bull duo. Then Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Räikkönen, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Kevin Magnussen follow. At the back of the field, Valtteri Bottas spins again while trying to overtake Esteban Ocon at turn 9. The French driver returns to the pits, due to a puncture, mounting again wet tires. In the first laps, Stroll extends his lead to six seconds on Sergio Pérez: the Racing Point duo is still very competitive, so much that they are now more than fifteen seconds ahead of the third driver, Vettel, pressured by Verstappen.
Due to the low temperatures, the track dries slowly, but on lap 6 Charles Leclerc, who was in fourteenth position, is the first to mount intermediate tires, returning to the track in nineteenth place. Leclerc is immediately competitive with the new tires, to the point that Vettel, Hamilton, Räikkönen and Magnussen come into the pits on lap eight. On lap nine Stroll, the leader of the race, pits, while Pérez, Ricciardo and Sainz Jr. on the following lap. On lap 11 it's Verstappen's turn, who was very comfortable with the extreme wet tires, having previously set several fast laps. The Dutchman is able to get back on track ahead of Vettel, who is approached by Hamilton, who sets the fastest lap. At the twelfth lap also Albon opts for the intermediate tires; shortly after Antonio Giovinazzi has to park his Alfa Romeo at the trackside, and the race direction decides to impose the virtual safety car regime. After several tire changes, the Racing Point duo is still in the lead, ahead of Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Alexander Albon and Daniel Ricciardo. On lap 16 Hamilton attacks Vettel in turn 12, but goes long due to a brake problem and is passed by Alexander Albon.
On the following lap the Thai driver overtakes the Ferrari driver, who is struggling to bring his intermediate tires up to temperature. Lance Stroll continues to lead the race with an eight second margin over Sergio Pérez, who is approached by Max Verstappen. On lap 20 Verstappen tries to overtake the Mexican, but ends up on the wet kerb at turn 11 and spins, being overtaken by Albon, Vettel and Hamilton. Verstappen is forced to make another pit stop, due to flat tires, and mounts another set of intermediates, re-entering the race in eighth position, behind Carlos Sainz Jr. In the following laps, when the track seems to dry up, even if not uniformly, it is the other Red Bull driver, Alex Albon, to get closer to Pérez, who - meanwhile - reduces the gap from Stroll. The pace of the Racing Points is quite slow, due to a high consumption of the tires, so that even Sebastian Vettel manages to get closer to the couple Pérez-Albon. On the thirtieth lap, Charles Leclerc makes his second pit stop, mounting again intermediate tires. Two laps later it's Ricciardo's turn. In the meantime, the race direction indicates that from this moment the DRS can be activated. On lap 33 Vettel makes his second pit stop, while Albon is the author of a spin in turn 4, which puts him back on track behind Lewis Hamilton. The Thai driver pits on lap 35. The race leader, Lance Stroll, also opts to use intermediate tyres on lap 36, leaving the lead to Sergio Perez, approached by Hamilton, who had been making a strong comeback. On lap 37 the Briton passes the Mexican driver at turn 12, with the help of the DRS, taking the first place. Third is Max Verstappen, who precedes Lance Stroll, Vettel, Albon, Leclerc and Sainz Jr. Stroll's race pace suddenly becomes uncompetitive, due to a sudden wear of the tires, and he is overtaken on lap 38 by Vettel and Charles Leclerc, who in the meantime had passed Alex Albon. During the following lap, Leclerc overtakes Vettel, moving up to fourth place. Carlos Sainz Jr. also passes Stroll and Albon. Up front, Hamilton immediately widens the margin on Pérez to over ten seconds. The two are also the only ones not to have made a second stop.
On lap 43 Leclerc, having approached Verstappen, passes him under braking at turn 12, moving into third place. The Dutchman, on the same lap, pitted for his third stop, re-entering the race seventh, ahead of Stroll. Hamilton, who told the pits that he feared a tire failure, continued to widen the gap on Pérez to over twenty seconds. In the meantime, Verstappen approaches his teammate Albon and is able to overtake him. On lap 55, Stroll gives up another position, this time to Lando Norris. In the last laps Charles Leclerc, despite some mistakes from his part, reduces the gap from Pérez; the Mexican, during the last lap, makes a mistake in turn 9 and the Monegasque moves to second place. However, at the end of the straight that leads to the braking of turn 12, Leclerc delays the braking, going long and being overtaken by Pérez. Sebastian Vettel, not far from the two, takes advantage of the situation to get the third step of the podium. Lewis Hamilton gets his ninety-fourth success in the Formula 1 World Championship: the British driver wins for the second time on this track, exactly ten years after the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix, with McLaren-Mercedes. With this result Hamilton gets his seventh world title, the fourth consecutive, equalling the record that belonged to Michael Schumacher. Sergio Pérez seizes his first podium since the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, when he finished in third place. The lowest step of the podium returns to the appanage of Sebastian Vettel for the first time since the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix. For Racing Point it is the second podium in Formula 1 after that of Stroll in Monza, while for Ferrari it is the third podium of the season after the two obtained by Leclerc in Austria and Great Britain. Charles Leclerc follows in fourth place, then Carlos Sainz Jr., Max Verstappen and Alex Albon with the two Red Bulls, Lando Norris, Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo, who closes the top ten in tenth place. Valtteri Bottas finishes only fourteenth, coming out of this weekend defeated both in the championship and emotionally. Once the race is finished, Sebastian Vettel runs to congratulate the new World Champion, who a few moments later confesses:
"I know that we often say, or rather I say, that this is beyond my wildest dreams, but I think that secretly I dreamed of this. I've always felt it so far-fetched though. I remember when Michael was winning those world championships, and we drivers do our best, and already winning one, two or three is so hard. So to get to seven, it's unimaginable. But when you work with such a fantastic group of people, and there's communication and trust in each other, and listening, there's no end to what we can do together, me and my team. I'm so proud of what we've done. And their confidence in me on the track today, that comes with experience".
"This year was so hard... I didn't go out, I didn't go out to dinner, I just stayed in my bubble. They would bring food to my room, and nothing exciting was happening, because I had to fight for the world championship. I think I sacrificed more this year than I have in my entire life. That made everything more difficult. Creating memories like these, I want to share them with my family, I want to look forward to the time when I can be with them and my friends. I am so proud of this race today. I was thinking about times when it went wrong for me instead, like in China in 2007, when I lost the world championship because of worn tires. All these things I learned along the way, I was able to put them into practice today, and that's why I got today's result and today's gap. At the same time, I feel like I'm right at the beginning, it's so strange. Physically, I feel like I'm in great shape and mentally this year has been the hardest year for so many people, for millions of people. I know things are always great from here, on the big stage, but it's not much different for us athletes. And this has been a challenge that I didn't know how to take on. But with the help of great people around me, thanks to my team, Team LH, I was able to keep myself afloat and stay focused. I'm hoping for a better year next year. I would love to stay, I feel like we still have a lot to do. I'm working to make sure that we are still reliable as a sport, to realize that we have to address and not ignore the human rights where we go and how we can deal with those countries, and how we can stimulate them to change, not in ten or twenty years, but starting now. And I want to help Formula 1, I want to help Mercedes in that journey, in being more sustainable. I hope to be part of this, at least in the initial phase, for a while".
And Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, also comments ecstatically on yet another victory achieved in this championship by Lewis Hamilton:
"Today once again Lewis showed how he is able to deal with a situation that was not in his favor at the beginning, but he made sure to stay on track, preserved the tires and let the race come to him. That made the difference today, he was as hungry as a lion. Driving on slicks at the end, with the risk of rain, led him to his ninety-fourth Formula 1 victory, and brought him his seventh world championship, an impressive achievement. This year has been very special because it is difficult for everyone in the world. Hopefully we were able to bring some joy to people, some entertainment, and to come out victorious after a race like that is incredible. Looking at Lewis, we have a relationship that has strengthened over the years; the team supports him 100 percent and he supports the team 100 percent, and this was one of the days where trust triumphed, bringing home a win against all odds. We just have to congratulate Lewis and recognize the fantastic job he's doing, setting new records in the sport. We're going home together, so we still have to see how we're going to celebrate; I'm sure we'll find a way".
Who comes out completely defeated is Valtteri Bottas, fourteenth at the end of a really tough race for him:
"This was a long race. A very long day. From the first lap onwards, everything went wrong. I don't know who it was, but someone spun in front of me at the first corner, and while avoiding him I spun too. Then I touched myself at Turn 9 and the car was never the same again. I struggled to stay on the track. I couldn't stay on the track, the steering wheel didn't work and something was missing from the front wing. Had to survive today, it didn't go well. Congratulations to Lewis. He fully deserved this title: he was the best this year and seven world titles is an impressive achievement in our sport".
At the end of the race, Sergio Perez was in disbelief that he managed to get second place, despite his tires having reached a very high level of consumption:
"It was incredible. I told my team on the radio that with one more lap the tires would have exploded. It was a really interesting race, the team did a fantastic job. Lewis was very strong today, but we managed to bring home a good result. In the duel with Verstappen I couldn't see anything because there were so many splashes of water, then he disappeared. As for the challenge with Leclerc, I didn't think he was so close: he overtook me in turn 9, I passed him in turn 11 after his long run. It was a chaotic race, but very positive for us. I can't say if this race was an advertisement for me, I keep watching weekend after weekend because I want to finish the season well".
And Sebastian Vettel, who came in third, admits:
"It was a long and very intense race. I did a great first lap, immediately climbing up to fourth position: I felt good with the full wet tyres, less so with the intermediates. I also had a great last lap, snatching the podium right at the end: Leclerc was close to Perez, in the previous laps I was making up a lot on them and as soon as I saw Charles blocking I saw that there was an opportunity for me and I took it. I almost caught Perez, he had no more rubber. At a certain point I also thought about the slicks, there would have been a chance to win, but in the end I am happy with this podium".
After that, the German commented on what happened to Leclerc, spending words of esteem and understanding towards his young colleague:
"I think, having Charles as a teammate, I often see myself in him. He's much younger, he's very fast and I'll tell him that whether or not he's on the podium is actually a bit irrelevant to him. He has so many years ahead of him and so many podiums to come, I'm sure. It's right that he's upset. He made a mistake and lost the podium like that but, like I said, in the big picture it's probably irrelevant to him. I think I'm pretty mature, I've never let this kind of thing get heated and come between us. I'm happy for everything he achieves and will achieve in the future, because he's a good guy".
And in the aftermath of the podium obtained in Istanbul, the four-time World Champion confirms his commitment as a protagonist in Formula 1.
"I'm now thirty-three years old and I'll certainly be on track for another three years. I keep saying that I don't want to race when I'm forty, so if I do a couple of calculations then I have three to seven years left to race in Formula 1. This season has been very complicated and I admit I even doubted my driving skills. We didn't get anywhere and, in addition, the relationship between me and the team was not the best... The love story is over, but I am still very motivated. I expect a lot from the races that remain and I think the move to Aston Martin opens up a lot of new opportunities. Of course, we won't be able to achieve success right away, but there will certainly be a different atmosphere and the aim is to help the team as it progresses".
Instead, Charles Leclerc is understandably disappointed, as he admits:
"I am extremely disappointed with myself. I made a mistake at the last corner, there's little to say about that, as in the end it's the result that counts and today I threw away an opportunity. My start was bad, on the dirty side of the track, but then things got better and in the middle part of the race we were extremely fast and I did a good job reaching the leading group that was several seconds ahead. But in the end I threw it all in the bin. I'm sorry for the team, because today we could have obtained a second place. On the other hand, I'm happy for Seb because he has had a difficult season so far and he completely deserves this first podium".
While Ferrari's team principal, Mattia Binotto, comments on the race from Maranello weekend saying:
"After a very difficult Saturday it is a pleasure to end Sunday being the team that has collected the most points of all in this Grand Prix. We knew that, in these conditions, it would have been a race of who made the fewest mistakes. I think that, as a team, we did a good job overall, especially from a strategy point of view: we made some brave choices and we did them at the right time. In a way, it's even more significant that we could have made an even better haul by getting both drivers on the podium. We worked hard, on track and in Maranello, after yesterday we couldn't get the tires to work and I think that today the results of this collective effort were seen, both with the wet and the intermediate tires. We are particularly pleased that Sebastian managed to finish in the top three: he had a great race, illuminated by a fantastic start. Charles was very fast for long stretches of the race: if it hadn't been for the start and the last braking of the last lap he would have finished second, but it was still a very good race. We have made up some ground in the Constructors' standings, but the gap to those ahead of us is still considerable. Here in Istanbul we confirmed the growth trend that began after Monza: we want to continue in this direction in the last three races of the season, in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. Finally, I would like to congratulate Lewis on this well-deserved world title that allows him to match Michael Schumacher".
Sebastian Vettel, who returned to the podium after more than a year of waiting, also joked in the interviews that the absence of the team principal coincided with the best result of the season:
"Maybe they should leave Mattia at home a little more often? Obviously I'm joking. Superstition? I don't know, I don't really believe in these things. We have a lot of people doing a lot of different jobs in a race weekend and one weekend is nothing but a whole picture of the job made by the whole group".
Ferrari's result could put them back in the running for third place. In this regard, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl comments:
"For us it was great to collect so many points, because in this way we can stay in the fight for an important position in the constructors' standings. But right now it's clear that we don't have the third or fourth fastest car on the track. And, considering what we've seen Ferrari do, it's clear now that the fight is between four teams for third, fourth, fifth and sixth place. It's not that I'm worried, it's simply realism. We can't be surprised that a team like Ferrari, with the resources they have at their disposal, has grown over the course of the season. We have never underestimated them, they have two great drivers and obviously a great structure. So the fact that they are fighting for third place can only be a reality. We have to focus on ourselves and extract the most out of what we have. Our car is competitive, a big step up from last year but, at the same time, our rivals are all very strong. Hopefully we can stay in the game until the last race".
Carlos Sainz Jr., who at the end of the race managed to take fifth place, comments on the result obtained in such a difficult weekend:
"A good, very good day for us after a disappointing Saturday. We managed to put together a very good race in super slippery conditions. I had a very good start, made up six positions, changed tires and kept a steady pace with both compounds. From there, I was able to do some good overtaking, finishing fifth. I consider this race as one of the most difficult ever in Formula 1 for me and I'm very happy to have recovered ten positions in these conditions. I'm very happy for the whole team, because we saved a tough weekend, bringing both cars to points. Not least, congratulations to Lewis for achieving an incredible record; seven world championships is a fantastic achievement".
While his teammate, Lando Norris, admits having been enjoying himself:
"It was a good race, a lot of fun. My start wasn't great, but a lot of people who started on the left side of the grid had a bad start. After that, everything went well, it was just very difficult to overtake. Normally that's the case in the dry, but in the wet you can only follow one line, and it was pretty much impossible to overtake. But with a clear track, we had a good race pace. We did the best possible job, and I got the fastest lap, so this shows that the car is really fast. Finally, congratulations to Lewis on his seventh world championship, it's a fantastic result".
Understandably disappointed is Lance Stroll, who started on pole and was aiming for a better result:
"I think it's really hard to understand what happened today. I got a good start from pole and in the first stint I built up a lead of around ten seconds, which gave us a comfortable margin for the second stint. Throughout the race, however, I had graining problems with the intermediates. The team called the second pit at the right time, because the graining was difficult to manage and the clear feeling was that the track would not allow to mount the slicks. On the second set of intermediates the problem reoccurred and I couldn't push to make up positions. In hindsight, I could have stayed out and waited for the tire to clear, but it's easy to talk now. Yesterday's pole was a great result, but you score points on Sunday. It was fun to lead the race for so long, but it wasn't enough. Even though I'm frustrated today, Checo got valuable points and now we'll shift our focus to the last few races".
Max Verstappen, who finished sixth, also aspired to the victory, but:
"Today's was a very difficult race. I didn't have a very good start, finding myself fourth due to the lack of grip on the dirty side of the grid. I climbed up to third position and tried to follow Checo closely, to attack him at the hairpin, but I lost control, went wide on the green and then spun. I tried to avoid the wall, but I flattened my tires and had to stop at the pits. With new tires it was easy enough to catch up with the others; passing them was a different matter. There was only one line to follow, and even that was very slippery, forcing you to follow the same line as the one in front of you. Very frustrating. In addition, the fact that the track was drying extremely slowly prevented us from switching to slicks, forcing us to stay on the intermediates, which were also quickly destroyed. As I said, it was a complicated race, with a mix of situations between following those in front of you, not having grip and trying to get to the finish line. It was not a good day".
And his teammate, Alex Albon, is understandably disappointed, as is the entire Red Bull team:
"I have mixed feelings, as everything seemed to be going according to plan, even putting me in a position to win; but it was a strange race and finishing seventh makes me quite confused. We have been competitive all weekend, so today's result is hard to accept. Both Max and I started badly, but then climbed back into the group; once we switched to intermediates, we had crazy grip and were very fast. After the second stop and the second set of intermediates, however, that great pace disappeared. It's hard to figure out, but we're going to sit down and try. This weekend went well and I'm happy with the progress we've made, with some things in my pit box helping. I'm looking forward to getting back on track in Bahrain".
At the end of the race, the Haas management was summoned by the stewards because Kevin Magnussen restarted in unsafe conditions after a pit stop: the mechanic in charge of disassembling the left rear wheel was not sure if the wheel had been properly fixed, so much that the team was forced to stop the driver outside his pit stop once he had restarted. For this reason, the stewards decide not to take any action, as it would not be possible to determine if the car was released in a safe condition or not. Max Verstappen receives no action for crossing the white line at the exit of the pits, after a pit stop. The stewards, where having examined the incident, note that they are unable to find conclusive evidence that any part of the car had crossed the white line completely. Finally, Nicholas Latifi and Romain Grosjean are summoned because of an incident between the two drivers at the ninth corner during the race: the Canadian Williams driver receives a reprimand. Lewis Hamilton leaves Istanbul with his seventh world title; with the championship now closed, the wait for the last three Grands Prix is not so high, but we must always remember that this season has reserved many twists and turns, and it is not said that in the last appointments, with Mercedes now World Champion, more unforgettable moments could not develop.