Hamilton claims seventh title in style


Last week the Pitpass team watched Doctor Sleep, which is described as the sequel to Stephen King's excellent book turned movie, The Shining.

The team was glad that it had been informed, for in reality this extremely silly movie had little to do with the 1970s classic.

We say this because thus far this weekend the Turkish Grand Prix has been as far removed from the norm as it could possibly get and at times almost - we stress almost - as silly as said Doctor Sleep. (A curious name for a movie which could seriously be considered as a cure for insomnia).

Washing a track that has been resurfaced after Pirelli had made its tyre choices we can just about handle, but the unseasonal temperatures, dogs, cranes and just about everything else have threatened to turn this event at which Lewis Hamilton could secure his seventh title into a laughing stock.

Even overnight, ahead of today's race, AlphaTauri stripped down Pierre Gasly's car ahead of an engine change, before changing its mind and putting the whole thing back together again, leaving the hapless Frenchman facing the threat of starting from the pitlane.

Then there's both Alfas getting through to Q3 and starting ahead of the Ferraris, not to mention the Points starting from pole and third, ahead of World Champion-elect, Lewis and his teammate.

In other words, this is one of those weekends where one is almost tempted to resort to the full range of Murray Walkerisms in terms of F1 being If backwards and this being one of those weekends where anything can, and probably will, happen.

Indeed, heading into today's race nothing would surprise us, so with that we feel that rather than make any predictions we could come to regret we will simply sit back and 'watch the show'.

That said, clearly miffed at losing pole, Max will be keen to dispose of young Lance as quickly as possible, though his cause will not be helped by having to start on the 'dirty' side of a track that has proved consistently problematic.

Despite yesterday's warnings it appears that this will be a dry race with no threat of rain. Indeed, as the drivers wake to sunny skies for the first time this weekend, even the predicted overnight showers failed to materialise. However, let's not forget that even in the dry grip was minimal, so expect a hairy opening lap and possibly a few 'incidents'.

Pirelli admits that this is one of the hardest races to predict a strategy for, owing to a number of different factors. The asphalt is extremely slippery, with rapid evolution, but how much grip it will ultimately offer remains unknown.

On paper, a two-stopper is quicker - but teams always prefer a one-stopper, especially if they can somehow manage to do it on the two softer compounds this weekend. Right now, that seems almost impossible if graining on the soft stays the same as it's been so far, but some teams might still try it.

Alternatively, they might still go for a one-stopper using the hards, if they can get it to work.

In theory, a two-stopper is quickest: with two stints of 16 laps on the softs plus a medium stint of 26 laps (perhaps as the middle stint). Another way of doing it, if there's graining on the softs, is just one 14-lap stint on the red tyres with two 22-lap stints on the mediums.

If it's warm enough to switch on the hard compound, the teams could try a one-stopper with 30 laps on mediums and 28 laps on hards. Alternatively, 20 laps on softs and 38 laps on hards.

At which point... an hour before the start... it starts to rain. Seriously, where did that come from? If Bernie was still in charge, we'd be looking for the sprinklers.

At which point... all bets are off.

While Gasly is facing the prospect of starting from the pitlane, which in fact be a benefit under the circumstances, Sainz was handed a 3-place grid drop for impeding Perez and teammate Norris was given a 5-place drops for not respecting the yellow flags following Latifi's Q1 off. Russell, who was due to start from the back of the grid following an engine change, was also handed a 5-place grid drop (!) for committing the same offence as Norris.

The pitlane opens and the drivers begin to head out... on full wets.

And if anyone needs proof of how difficult conditions are, Giovinazzi aquaplanes off track and hits the barriers. Not hard, but enough to damage his front wing and leave him stranded in the gravel.

Russell spins into the pit lane entrance, breaking his front wing in the process. "I was at walking speed," he reports, "it's ridiculous".

At this point the stewards confirm that Gasly has to start from the back of the grid.

Ahead of the national anthem it stops raining, however there is a 60% chance of further rain.

Air temperature is 12 degrees C, while the track temperature is 15 degrees.

Both Williams are to start from the pitlane, Latifi having (appropriately) had his car changed to a wet set-up, and Russell having missed the cut-off deadline following his pitlane mishap.

Hamilton is advised that it will be a 'normal' start as opposed to behind the Safety Car.

All are starting of full wets bar the Williams pair who are both on Inters.

The field heads off on the warm-up lap.

Stroll arrives on the grid and awaits the arrival of his rivals who are taking their time.

They're away. Stroll gets away well both Red Bull are fighting for grip and barely able to move. Verstappen, who initially got off the line well, then almost came to a standstill as he struggled for grip, is passed by both Mercedes, both Renaults and Vettel before he's even got to Turn 1, while Albon is also looking for a way past.

In Turn 1, Ricciardo has to avoid Hamilton, who has the inside, and clips Ocon who spins, leaving Bottas to spin also in a bid to avoid the Renault.

Both Bulls take advantage of the situation and subsequently pass Ricciardo, while just behind Magnussen and Raikkonen appear to touch.

Now back in control, Verstappen is all over Vettel.

No problems for the Points, with Stroll leading his teammate who is comfortably ahead of Hamilton. The Briton runs wide in Turn 9, which allows Vettel and Verstappen to close in, and subsequently pass the Mercedes.

Adding insult to injury Hamilton is subsequently passed by Albon in Turn 12, as the world champion fight to keep his car on the black stuff, clearly unable to fire up his tyres..

At the end of lap 1, it's Stroll, Perez, Vettel, Verstappen, Hamilton, Albon, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Sainz and Magnussen. Bottas is 18th.

Ocon pits at the end of lap 1, the Renault driver switching to Inters, as Verstappen is all over Vettel.

Verstappen has a big moments as he goes over the kerb, losing ground to Vettel while allowing Albon to close in.

Out front, Stroll is 5.3s ahead of his teammate, who is 7s clear of Vettel.

Stroll continues to set a blistering pace as things begin to settle down. Verstappen complains that he is unable to follow Vettel.

"Don't give me new tyres again," warns Hamilton, "this is not the right idea."

At the rear of the field, Ocon passes Latifi as the Williams pair struggle on the Inters which will take another couple of laps to come into their own.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Istanbul, here.

Lap 5 sees Perez post a new fastest lap (53.215), as Hamilton complains that his front brakes are not working very well.

Bottas is all over Norris, who is harrying Leclerc, but the Finn's tyres are not working for him.

Gasly, who started at the back of the grid, is up to 13th.

Leclerc pits at the end of lap 6, the Ferrari driver switching to the green-banded Inters. He rejoins in 19th.

As he pursues Vettel, Verstappen posts a new fastest lap (52.899), but this is immediately beaten by Hamilton (52.562).

Bottas pits at the end of lap 7, the Finn, who also switches to Inters, rejoins in 19th.

Next time around Vettel pits, which leaves Verstappen in clear air. Hamilton also pits.

Vettel rejoins in 7th and Hamilton 8th as Raikkonen and Magnussen also stop, as does Kvyat.

Stroll pits at the end of lap 9, as Verstappen goes quickest (51.091). The Canadian rejoins in 4th.

"Let's not go too early on the Inter," warns Verstappen.

Leclerc sails past a struggling Russell for 12th.

Perez pits at the end of lap 10, thereby promoting the Bull to a 1-2. Ricciardo and Sainz also pit.

Hamilton is currently lapping at 1:45 compared to Verstappen's 1:48.

As Gasly and Ocon pit (again), Verstappen is told that he will pit.

Sure enough, the Dutchman peels off into the pitlane, remerging in 4th, ahead of Vettel and Hamilton and only 1.5s down on Perez.

Albon, now leading, is the only driver on wets, the cat-loving Thai stopping at the end of lap 12.

A lock-up from Vettel allows Hamilton to close in. The German recovers in time to hold off the Briton.

Albon rejoins in 6th.

Out come the yellows, as Giovinazzi parks by the side of the track having clearly encountered a problem. Indeed, the Italian was told by his team to "stop immediately".

The VSC is deployed.

After 15 laps, it's: Stroll, Perez, Verstappen, Vettel, Hamilton, Albon, Ricciardo, Sainz, Leclerc and Magnussen.

The VSC is withdrawn, and at the restart Vettel struggles in Turn 6.

Hamilton is all over Vettel, he makes a move in Turn 10 but runs wide and in the process loses position to Albon, who goes on to pass the German also.

As Hamilton closes on Vettel again, Bottas spins and drops to 15th in the process.

No sooner has Perez gone quickest than Albon posts a 45.092. The Thai driver is 9s down on his Red Bull teammate. Leclerc subsequently posts a 44.173.

In 10th, Magnussen leads a train of cars that includes Russell, Norris, Raikkonen, Gasly and Bottas.

Albon posts a 43.350, but moments later Leclerc fires in a 42.570.

Verstappen wants to know why DRS hasn't been enabled.

A mistake by Perez sees Verstappen close in. The Mexican recovers but in his determination to make another move the Dutchman spins down the straight. He subsequently pits. "Flat spot, flat spot," he cries.

As Verstappen rejoins in 8th, Hamilton, who is still harrying Vettel, is appraised of the Dutchman's situation.

"I'm losing so much time, I just can't get by," moans Hamilton.

On fresh rubber, Verstappen goes quickest (41.990).

The Dutchman is under investigation for crossing the line at the pitlane exit.

Bottas' nightmare continues, another spin - this time in Turn 1 - drops him to 17th. Barring a miracle recovery, his (admittedly ludicrously slim) title hopes are at an end.

Perez is now just 5.2s down on his teammate, but with Albon all over his rear.

Another bit of cross-country for Verstappen as he pursues Sainz for 7th.

Told he needs to keep his tyres in a "decent state" and wait for the transition to dry, Hamilton replies: "That's going to be a long, long way away."

As Albon hangs on to the rear of Perez, Stroll is just 3.4s ahead.

Meanwhile, Hamilton has dropped 3.8s behind Vettel.

Norris barges his way past Russell, who claims he was forced off the road. Indeed, by the looks of it, he was.

Albon drops back and is clearly seeking damp patches in a bid to cool his Inters.

Verstappen's white line incident will be investigated after the race.

A great scrap between Magnussen and Norris for tenth. However, the cameras miss the moment when the Briton passes the Dane.

As Verstappen is told that no further rain is expected, the leading 5 - Stroll, Perez, Albon, Vettel and Hamilton - are covered by just 9.716s.

"There's so much wear," sighs Stroll. "We're just trying to get to the dry," he is told, "we're just trying to get to the dry."

At which point, on lap 29, DRS is enabled.

As Vettel, when told that there will be no more rain, suggests another stop for Inters, teammate Leclerc pits... for fresh Inters. Raikkonen also stops.

The Monegasque rejoins in 9th and the Finn in 17th.

Hamilton runs wide in Turn 4 as he and Vettel laps Raikkonen.

On his fresh Inters, Leclerc is setting a blistering pace.

Meanwhile a mistake in Turn 11 sees Ricciardo lose position to Sainz, while Verstappen closes in also. The Renault driver subsequently pits.

A new fastest lap from Leclerc (40.962). Ricciardo rejoins in 9th, behind Leclerc.

Vettel pits at the end of lap 33, there a slight issue - once again - this time with the rear-right, and as a result he rejoins in 6th.

A spin for Albon in Turn 4, allows Hamilton through, as Sainz pits.

"Don't box me, man," warns Hamilton.

Albon pits at the end of lap 34, his old Inters almost slicks now. He rejoins in 6th.

"How long can I go on for," asks Hamilton. "We don't know," comes the reply.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Istanbul, here.

"We're going to put another set of Inters on," Stroll is told. "When he asks "why", he is told to stay out.

Meanwhile, Magnussen has stopped at the end of the pitlane. Replay suggests a loose wheel. Another unsafe release?

Stroll pits at the end of lap 36, the Canadian rejoining in third, but subsequently dropping to fourth when he is passed by Verstappen.

Though they have yet to stop again, Perez leads Hamilton by 0.293. The Briton makes short work of the Mexican, passing him in Turn 12.

"They're graining already," warns Stroll. For the first time today there is a sense of panic in his voice. To add to his frustration he is now running behind a very slow Magnussen who has rejoined following his earlier issue.

Leclerc is all over the back of Albon.

In no time at all, Hamilton is 5s clear of Perez who has Verstappen 12 behind.

Vettel catches Stroll napping and passes the Point, however, the Canadian subsequently retakes the position, only to lose out to the German again and his Ferrari teammate.

"There could be some rain with 8 laps to go," Sainz is warned, "but we're not sure yet."

Leclerc sweeps by Vettel in what appears an almost choreographed move.

Another spin for Bottas, who is about to be lapped by his teammate.

Stroll's day goes from bad to worse as he is passed by Albon.

Synchronised spins for Grosjean and Latifi as they touch in Turn 1.

"It's getting darker, will there be more rain," asks Hamilton. Again, the answer is non-committal.

Stroll drops to 8th as he is passed by Sainz, the Canadian never at ease since his last stop.

As Hamilton posts a PB (39.999) one has to wonder how he is finding the grip he has when so many others are clearly struggling.

Leclerc passes Verstappen with ease, as the Dutchman subsequently peels off into the pits, as does Russell.

The Dutchman rejoins in 7th, 6s down on Sainz.

A seemingly endless stream of expletives from Grosjean but it's unclear what he is unhappy about - is it ever clear? Asked if he wants to pit, he replies; "I don't know, you tell me".

In 13th, Bottas is ignoring the blue flags that warn of the impending arrival of his Mercedes teammate.

Sainz passes Albon for 5th, as Stroll is running in 8th, the Canadian insisting that his pace is slower now than it was at the starts.

As he posts a 39.706, Verstappen suggests that it is time for slicks. The Dutchman is 1.6s down on his Red Bull teammate.

Bottas makes his second stop of the afternoon.

After 47 laps, of 58, Hamilton leads Perez, Leclerc, Vettel, Sainz, Albon, Verstappen, Stroll, Ricciardo and Norris.

Grosjean spins in Turn 12, dropping to 17th in the process.

A lock-up is followed by a spin for Ricciardo, which allows Norris through to snatch 9th.

Leclerc manages to hold his position despite a mistake that almost sees him go off.

Raikkonen spins in Turn 4, and while Albon is able to avoid the Alfa despite a wobble, Verstappen spins also in a bid to avoid his own teammate.

Norris posts a new fastest lap (38.471), as Vettel is told of "heavy rain for the last lap of the race".

None the worse for that spin, Verstappen passes his teammate for 6th.

Grosjean has retired as Norris posts another fastest lap (38.097).

After 53 laps, Hamilton leads Perez by 23s, with Leclerc a further 6s behind the Mexican. Vettel is 3.2s down on Leclerc, but 5s clear of Sainz who has a 3s advantage over Verstappen.

"I wish it was less," responds Bottas when told there are four laps remaining.

Another off for Verstappen who complains he cannot work around his oversteer.

Hamilton is told that the rain will hit at the exit to Turn 8. In the pitlane, the Mercedes crew prepares a set of tyres.

Stroll runs wide at Turn 8 and allows Norris through to claim 8th.

"I'm gonna stay out," says Hamilton, "I hear you, but I'm gonna stay out."

Hamilton begins his final lap, as eyes look to the heavens.

The Briton crosses the line to take his seventh title, but behind a mistake in Turn 9 sees Leclerc pass Perez. However, in passing the Point the Ferrari driver is on the marbles and locks-up heading into Turn 10 thereby allowing Perez back through. In the process Vettel also passes the youngster to claim third spot on the podium.

Sainz finishes fifth, ahead of Verstappen, Albon, Norris, Stroll and Ricciardo.

Ocon is eleventh, ahead of Kvyat, Gasly, Bottas, Raikkonen and Russell.

Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher's record of seven titles with a masterclass, even Toto Wolff is unable to understand how he survived on that set of Inters.

As Hamilton sits in his car, clearly in a very emotional state, the first to congratulate him is Vettel. "You've made history," says the German.

A fitting way to secure a historic title, not for the first time the Briton proving to be the class of the field.

A great result also for Perez, a result which screams out for somebody to sign the Mexican. Quite how the guy is facing the 'F1 scrapheap' when he is capable of such a great drive is a genuine mystery.

While Lewis is understandably emotional, Seb can allow himself a little chuckle, as he signs off with a podium, despite the seeming best efforts of his team, who managed to mess up his pit stop for the second successive race.

Another classy performance from Carlos, who will fill Seb's seat at Ferrari next year, while Max and Alex will no doubt be glad to get away from Istanbul.

If it is a mystery how Lewis got his tyres to work so well, spare a thought for Lance who was never happy with his second set of Inters, his approach changing almost from the moment they were fitted.

However, today belongs to one man, the Stevenage Rocket, who has today secure another title in epic style. How sad that Michael can't be here to congratulate him for congratulate him he surely would.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Istanbul, here.

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 15/11/2020
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