The battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen continued during the Turkish Grand Prix. Partly due to a combustion engine change for Hamilton and a late tyre stop, the Briton finished no further than fifth, while Max Verstappen finished just behind Valtteri Bottas in second.
Verstappen got off to an excellent start and stayed in second place behind the Finnish Mercedes driver. Hamilton meanwhile tried to drive forward from his eleventh starting position, which he succeeded in doing at lightning speed. However, overtaking Sergio Pérez proved a more difficult task. “Pérez was defending great there which of course provided a spectacle,” Michael Bleekemolen responded in an exclusive interview
“But that is of course what a second driver is for. He just wanted to show that he is still part of the Red Bull team. On the other hand, with the world championship in mind Lewis didn’t dare take the full risk. In that respect it was a bit of everything.”
Hamilton did eventually manage to get past Pérez, after which he moved into third place. However, the world champion continued to drive on the same intermediates, leaving the driver to fear a blowout.
It was only at the end of the race that Mercedes decided to call him in. “Of course it was late, on the other hand Carlos Sainz showed that going in too early was not the solution either. He didn’t make any progress with his change, which of course woke up other teams. It remains difficult to make the right decision with these weather conditions.”
Bleekemolen sees Bottas as the big winner of the weekend. “It seems like he is starting to perform better and better since he knows he is leaving Mercedes. He was just the best and fastest in Turkey,” he stated about Bottas, who helped Hamilton in the world championship.
Indeed, the Finn kept Verstappen behind him, which prevented the Dutchman from taking the full number of points. “I’m sure Hamilton is more afraid of Verstappen than the other way around.”
Verstappen’s chances in America
In two weeks’ time, the GP of the United States is on the programme. Once again it seems to be a circuit that favours Mercedes, but Red Bull have shown their ability to deliver craftsmanship on more than one occasion this season.
“Every time we think on tracks like this that Red Bull has no chance, but Verstappen always manages to surprise. So let’s hope for an exciting race where Mercedes and Red Bull are close.”