The 2020 Turkish Grand Prix may have started with a shock pole winner and a damp track, but it ended in a way Formula One fans have known to grow familiar: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes took the win—and the World Drivers’ Championship. His seventh championship equals the record-high ever scored by Michael Schumacher.
“For all the kids out there who dream the impossible, you can do it, too, man. It’s possible,” Hamilton said over the radio after he crossed the line.
The Turkey Grand Prix kicked off in damp conditions, which signaled the fact that it was going to be a wild one. Polesitter Racing Point driver Lance Stroll led the field to green and maintained his position at the head of the grid throughout the first laps. Meanwhile, the tow Renaults tagged each other, sending Esteban Ocon spinning into Valtteri Bottas and both off the track.
Within the first few laps, it was Stroll, followed by teammate Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Meanwhile, Max Verstappen had a difficult start, missing a shift before running off track trying to overtake.
Charles Leclerc kicked off pit stops on lap 7, becoming the first driver (aside from the Williams drivers) to gamble on intermediate tires as opposed to full wets. Stroll did the same, reentering the track in fourth place.
Verstappen wasn’t keen to pit for inters after struggling on them during qualifying, and when he did, he was punished further: there was tape on his brake duct, which necessitated a longer stop. He was still able to exit the track ahead of both Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.
A virtual safety car came out on lap 13 as Antonio Giovinazzi pulled off the track.
On lap 18, Verstappen lost his podium position to his teammate, losing control and spinning off track. He was able to save it come back in sixth place, but he had to pit to change tire, which dropped him to eighth.
Hamilton filtered into the lead on lap 38, immediately building a double-digit gap over second-place Perez. Rain threatened to strike with a handful of laps left, and countless yellow flags waved in various sectors as more and more drivers spun as damp spots began to reappear around the track.
There was no stopping Hamilton, though. He crossed the finish line first, taking home both a win at the Turkish Grand Prix and his seventh World Championship.
Sergio Perez nearly lost second place to Charles Leclerc, but the latter driver ran into the marbles and collected debris. Leclerc locked up, letting Perez past for second and Vettel past for third.
Vettel seemed in shock after the race. “It was quite intense, but we found a really good opening lap,” he said. “Only towards the end, I started to find the pace at the end. Very intense at the last lap, so it was a bit of a surprise to snatch the podium on the last lap
“I saw that Charles was quite close to Sergio and heard that Sergio was struggling with his tires. I could see them fight, and as soon as I saw Charles locking up, I saw it was an opportunity for me.”
Sergio Perez is currently without a seat secured for next season, so his performance was especially important today.
“I told my team on the radio, I think one more lap on those tires and I think they’ll have exploded. It also made our race, looking after them in the beginning and toward the end. The team did a really great job with the strategy for the race.”
He added a note about his future, saying, “As always, you have to be delivering weekend after weekend. you’re as good as your last race, so you always have to be finishing on a high.”
World Champion Lewis Hamilton was emotional during the post-race interview, seeming as if things were still sinking in:
I’m lost for words. Naturally, I always have to start with saying a huge thank you to all the guys here and back at the factory. This is such a huge opportunity. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I hadn’t joined this team.
We dreamed of this as kids. When I was young, watching the Grands Prix, this is way way beyond our dreams. This is so important for kids out there. Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t achieve something. Dream the impossible and speak it into existence.
Today we knew coming in was going to be such a difficult weekend. We knew we were on the back foot and did the best we could, but we learned a lot. That’s how we work as a team. It’s not a blame game, we just hash it out. You don’t always get everything perfect, but today... we had a small moment at the beginning of the race with new tires, and i couldn’t get past Seb. I could see Albon, and I thought, this race is falling away from me, it’s slipping through my fingers
...I went through the real rough phase with the graining of the tire, and then the grip was coming back. I started to pick up pace, and then Seb pitted, and that was it. As the tires got more and more slick, that was exactly what we needed. If I went out on new slicks, I wouldn’t have made it around.
He finished by saying, “I lost a world championship in the pit lane. I learned my lesson from 2007.”