Hamilton and Verstappen return to thrilling battle in Turkey
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will renew their thrilling battle for the Formula 1 world title at the Turkish Grand Prix this week.
The Mercedes driver is two points ahead of rival Red Bull, the smallest margin between the top two after 15 races since 2006, when Fernando Alonso had the same narrow lead in his famous fight with Michael Schumacher.
This week will mark five years since Nico Rosberg took his last pole position and race victory.
He is the last person other than Hamilton to win the Drivers’ Championship, but the Briton knows he still has a lot of work to do if he is to prevent Verstappen from finishing this race with seven races to go.
The final installment of the rivalry will take place at Istanbul Park during an event that returned to the F1 calendar after a nine-year absence last year.
Verstappen is looking to win his eighth race in 2021. Other than Hamilton’s loss to Rosberg in 2016, every other driver who won that number of races has been crowned champions.
It was an incredible race in Russia, with Hamilton ultimately claiming his 100th Formula 1 victory, having failed in his previous four attempts to reach the cap.
Lando Norris had secured pole position and was aiming for a first victory, but came off the track with three laps to go after opting out of new tires as the rain began to wreak havoc in Sochi.
This allowed Hamilton to capitalize and McLaren was heartbroken as Norris limped to a seventh place after coming so close to following teammate Daniel Ricciardo’s victory in Italy with one of his own.
The drama up front meant Verstappen regained important ground to finish second, an unlikely bonus after he started from the back of the grid when Red Bull had a new engine installed.
Carlos Sainz took the last place on the podium, with Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and Alonso completing the top six.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN TURKEY
Turkey is one of four of the 34 F1 venues where Hamilton has yet to take pole position, but has won there twice, including a famous win in the rain last year that clinched his seventh championship. .
His chances of repeating the feat this week may depend on whether he chooses to receive a grid penalty for taking on a new unit of power, which Toto Wolff believes could be a possibility.
If Hamilton triumphs, he will equal Felipe Massa’s F1 record with three wins in Turkey.
But other teams are getting involved up front, which could complicate championship contenders further.
McLaren won at Monza and nearly repeated the feat in Russia, with them and Ferrari – who recently introduced an improved powertrain with a new hybrid system – achieving impressive results.
After serving his penalty and impressively limiting the damage last time around, it’s Verstappen who enters the race weekend as the narrow favorite for the win.
TOP FIVE OPTA FACTS
Shelf position key – Seven of the eight winners in Turkey came from the front row of the grid, with the sole exception of last year when Hamilton took sixth place. It was only in Germany three years ago that the Briton recorded a victory in F1 from a worse starting position (14th).
Nice track for Ferrari – The Italian team won most of the races in Turkey (three), achieved eight podiums, set three fastest laps and landed three pole positions.
red bull race – With eight wins this year, the team is one win away from matching its third best season (nine in 2010). They only overtook him in 2011 (12) and 2013 (13), when they have already equaled their best pole position total (eight).
McLaren impresses – After completing two fastest laps in a row (Ricciardo in Italy and Norris in Russia), the team were able to complete three in a row for the first time since 2011 when Hamilton and Jenson Button were their drivers.
Hamilton could level up – If the seven-time world champion wins without being on pole, he will tie his pole winning record at 101 for each category – this would be the first time they have been the same since 2007, when he went 2-2 at the Grand United States prices.
CLASSIFICATION OF CHAMPIONSHIPS
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 246.5
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 244.5
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 151
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) 139
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 120
1. Mercedes 397.5
2. Red Bull 364.5
3. McLaren 234
4. Ferrari 216.5
5. Alpine 103