Turkey may have lacked the thrills and spills of other wet races this season, but it nevertheless produced an important result in this year’s Formula 1 world championship.
A familiar face returned to the top step of the podium to become the sixth different winner in 16 races, while the title race is still finely poised in what is turning out to be a spellbinding season.
Here are our biggest winners and losers from the 16th round of the 2021 F1 season…
Valtteri Bottas felt his victory in a rain-hit Turkish Grand Prix was one of the best performances of his career, and we agree.
The Finn has typically struggled in the past in similar conditions – spinning six times in Turkey last year – but aside from a brief wobble at Turn 1, he never put a foot wrong on Sunday.
Bottas led the majority of the race and made short work of passing Charles Leclerc in the closing stages en route to taking a dominant victory. He finished nearly 15 seconds clear of Max Verstappen with his finest display in a long time.
Bottas’ appearance on the top step of the podium was a popular one as he ended his winning drought that had gone on for more than a year, stretching back to last year’s Russian Grand Prix.
Turkey may not have marked Verstappen’s greatest performance of the season, but the Dutchman was rightly happy to maximise his result on a rare day Red Bull lacked the pace to challenge Mercedes for the win.
With Lewis Hamilton recovering well from a grid penalty but left frustrated by Mercedes’ strategy on his way to fifth, Verstappen’s second place means he has moved back into the lead of the world championship by six points.
Verstappen can consider an eight-point swing in his favour a very good outcome at a venue that clearly suited Mercedes’ car more.
A really impressive drive from Sergio Perez, as he bounced back from a poor qualifying and a difficult run of form by claiming his first podium since the French Grand Prix in June.
Perez put in a convincing defence to hold off Hamilton as they engaged in an exhilarating wheel-to-wheel scrap over fourth place at mid-distance, a highlight of an otherwise fairly dull race.
An early switch onto a new set of intermediates enabled Perez to charge onto the podium as he jumped the late-stopping Hamilton and then picked his way past Leclerc with a lovely move around the outside at Turn 12.
Perez’s drive capped off a strong day for Red Bull as it celebrated a double podium.
It felt harsh to penalise Pierre Gasly with a five-second time penalty for what appeared to be a fairly unavoidable collision with Fernando Alonso on the exit of Turn 1 at the start, but the Frenchman was undeterred by his early setback.
After landing his 12th Q3 appearance of the season with another brilliant qualifying lap, Gasly turned in a really strong drive to finish just behind Hamilton in sixth.
Gasly struggled for pace at mid-distance but came alive on fresh intermediates but fell just short of mounting a proper attack on Hamilton’s Mercedes at the end as he scored more big points for AlphaTauri.
A performance worthy of winning F1’s driver of the day from Carlos Sainz.
The Spaniard used all of his wet-weather skills to cut through the field in convincing fashion as he charged from the back of the grid in an 11-place climb to take an impressive eighth.
Even a sluggish pit stop from his Ferrari crew didn’t prevent Sainz’s surge up the order with a result that keeps him ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc in the world championship.
A frustrating result for Hamilton, who was disappointed not to be able to hold onto a podium and further limit the damage to Verstappen following his engine penalty.
While the seven-time world champion ultimately produced a strong recovery drive from 11th on the grid to rise to fifth, the overriding feeling was that Mercedes had missed an opportunity to score more crucial points on a weekend he was in dominant form, especially in the dry.
Hamilton will be hoping he doesn’t come to rue those potential extra points at the end of the year given the incredibly tight nature of this title race.
A tough weekend for Daniel Ricciardo, who endured a miserable qualifying as he suffered a shock elimination in Q1 after lacking speed on the soft tyres.
Things didn’t get much better in the race. Ricciardo started at the back after an engine change but could only improve to 13th, having been the first driver to pit for a new set of intermediates.
All in all it was not a great race for McLaren, who were outscored by rivals Ferrari as Lando Norris failed to improve from seventh.
After a much-improved qualifying and rare Q3 appearance, Yuki Tsunoda impressed early on as he kept Hamilton at bay for seven laps despite having the Mercedes man breathing down his neck in tricky conditions.
Tsunoda was holding his own in the points even after Hamilton had finally found a way past his AlphaTauri, but the Japanese driver’s race was ruined by a spin at Turn 1. Without that moment, a points finish could have been on the cards.
Following an excellent qualifying that saw him line up fifth on the grid, Fernando Alonso’s race was undone in a matter of seconds by a pair of incidents in the opening two laps.
Alonso was sent spinning to the back through no fault of his own after being tagged by Gasly at Turn 1, before he rather clumsily turned around Mick Schumacher’s Haas in his attempts to recover ground on the second lap.
The two-time world champion was slapped with a five-second time penalty for the incident with Schumacher and could finish no higher than 16th, behind the Williams of George Russell.
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel was in contention for points before he became the first – and only – driver to gamble by switching onto dry tyres as he pitted for mediums on lap 36.
But it quickly became apparent that the decision was the wrong one as Vettel had multiple off track excursions with the track still too wet for slicks. Vettel immediately returned to the pits where he nearly crashed with a half-spin.
The call ultimately ruined Vettel’s race and the German held up his hands to take full responsibility.