Turkish delight for Verstappen as he retakes F1 championship lead

The championship lead changes hands again after Turkish Grand Prix

Monday, 11th October 2021, 9:26 am

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez celebrate claiming second and third for Red Bull in Istanbul, Turkey

While conditions looked treacherous, Max Verstappen said his race to second place in the Turkish Grand Prix was ‘pretty straight forward’ as he retook the championship lead.

The Red Bull Racing man, driving in a special liveried RB16B this weekend to commemorate Honda’s impact on F1 prior to their departure from the sport at the end of the season, spent the majority of his day in second spot behind race winner Valtteri Bottas - never really within distance to make a move on the Mercedes man.

Though the race at the front was pretty routine, most eyes were on Lewis Hamilton’s charge through the field from 11th following an engine penalty taken on Friday. Hamilton started the day in the lead in the title race, but his late pit-stop, while running third, dropped him to fifth and promoted Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez into the final podium position at the chequered flag.

“As a team, to finish second and third here was a great result,” said Verstappen, who now leads the championship race by six points. “It was a pretty straight forward race today and I think in general we had a decent day.

“The race was all about managing tyres, to make sure they lasted to the end which means it wasn’t the most fun race to drive as you always want to push hard. Nevertheless, I think we maximised the result today and it’s good to be leading the Drivers’ Championship again.

“I do wish I had a bit more pace in the car but we are still in the fight, we’ll keep pushing and we’ll see in the coming races how competitive we will be.”

Mercedes was certainly the fastest car of the weekend, with Hamilton topping the times in most sessions, but his charge through the field only came into difficulty when he came across Perez. The pair duelled for five corners, racing cleanly side-by-side before the Red Bull man came out on top heading into Turn 1 in a thrilling battle.

Perez would then pit before making a move stick on Charles Leclerc, who like Hamilton went too long before changing tyres, to claim his first podium since France in June.

He said: “Lewis was closing in really fast and at that time I was struggling quite a lot with my tyres, he had good pace and I thought he might get past me but it turned into a good fight and I came out on top. Lewis is a top driver and it was enjoyable racing with him. When

“ I was standing on the podium I saw a lot of Mexican flags in the grandstands, we are so far from home here in Turkey so it was lovely to see.

“I think there is a lot we can learn from this race, it is a good result for the team and now we’re looking forward to Austin.”