♦ Charles Leclerc, who had qualified with the fastest time and crashed at the end of the final session but could claim pole position on the grid, lost that position as the damage to his Ferrari’s gearbox was too great. This gave Red Bull driver Max Verstappen the pole position, with Mercedes-AMG’s Valtteri Bottas alongside. Uncharacteristically, Lewis Hamilton had qualified only in seventh (and moved up to sixth).
♦ The tightness of the circuit makes passing difficult so the status quo was maintained for most of the front runners although Alpine F1’s Fernando Alonso managed to move up two positions from his grid position to 14th.
♦ Left alone to represent Ferrari, Carlos Sainz slowly took time off the gap with Bottas which was about 3 seconds with 10 laps completed.
♦ By lap 13, gaps were beginning to open up as some drivers were urged to pick up the pace. Sergio Perez, who was 20 seconds from his Red Bull team mate, was trying hard to get past Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.
♦ Nikita Mazepin (Haas F1) and Lando Norris (McLaren) were some of the drivers who got black and white flags to warn them about track limits. If they did it too many times, the Stewards would give them time penalities.
♦ With 29 laps done, all eyes were on the pits to see who would come in for their tyre changes. It was Lewis Hamilton who was the first, follow by his team mater Bottas was was around 63 seconds behind Verstappen. And then disaster struck for the Finn to make it worse as a front wheel could not come off the Mercedes-AMG. As a result, the tyre could not be changed – and it meant retirement for Bottas.
♦ Amazingly, Pierre Gasly (Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda), who was just ahead of Hamilton, came in and returned to the track still ahead of the Mercedes-AMG driver. But Vettel was quick to exploit the pit stops, passing Gasly and Hamilton to take fifth place.
♦ With half the 78-lap race completed, Verstappen was not secure yet as he had a lead of only 3 seconds ahead of Sainz. With Bottas out, there was a strong possibility of Hamilton losing his championship lead and implications for the team as well.
♦ With 30 laps remaining, Norris was in third – too far from Sainz but 7 seconds ahead of Perez. Vettel was a further 11 seconds but trying very hard with what has been an uncompetitive car.
♦ Hamilton was not giving up easily and pushed hard although, unlike other tracks where he could push forwardm difficulty overtaking held him back behind other cars.
♦ As the laps counted down, Perez was one of the more aggressive drivers, trying hard to pass Norris and be on the podium place instead of the McLaren driver.
♦ Yuki Tsunoda (Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda), who seemed to show promise at the start of the season, was the last car to pit and he was down in 16th position.
♦ As 10 laps remained, Hamilton came in for a new set of tyres, aiming to go flat out to the finish and improve his position from seventh and more importantly, try and set the fastest lap and get that one bonus point. He was the only driver to come into the pits twice – and he was also about to be lapped by Verstappen.
♦ Perez kept the pressure on Norris right till the end, coming within less than 2 seconds, but his fight could not continue as Verstappen crossed the finish line – and into the championship lead.
F1 – Turkish Grand Prix cancelled, 2 races to be run in Austria
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