Formula 1 returned to Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix at the weekend and it was Valtteri Bottas who enjoyed it more than anyone else, as he took victory on Sunday afternoon.
The Mercedes was clearly the fastest car over the course of the weekend and with teammate Lewis Hamilton shunted down to 11th on the grid with an engine penalty, the way was clear for Bottas to earn his first victory of the 2021 season. That, then, is where we kick-off our two winners and two losers piece this time around…
Winner – Valtteri Bottas
It was nice seeing Bottas back on the top step after what has been a largely trying campaign for him and, in fairness, he did a very professional job on Sunday afternoon.
He never looked too at risk of losing out on the victory, even when Charles Leclerc threatened a different tyre strategy for a few laps, and brought the Mercedes home in testing conditions thanks to a very measured drive.
A real confidence boost for Bottas and a reminder of the talent he does have when it all comes together for him.
Loser: Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton felt he had a shot at third place in the closing stages but Mercedes brought him in and the best he could get from there was fifth.
He will feel a little underwhelmed by that, though the argument the other way is had he stayed out on badly worn tyres he might have lost positions through a decrease in pace or a blowout before the end.
He is, though, now back behind Max Verstappen in the standings as the title race continues to swing to and fro.
Winner – Sergio Perez
Similarly to Bottas, it was good seeing Perez back on the podium – the first time it had happened since the French Grand Prix back in the summer.
A nice duel with Lewis Hamilton showed all his racecraft and willingness to play the team game during the Grand Prix, whilst he showed his natural ability at looking after tyres to secure a strong third place.
He was eyeing a podium at the start of the weekend and managed to get it come the chequered flag, so fair play to Checo.
Loser – Sebastian Vettel
Vettel and Aston Martin rolled the dice to go onto slick tyres midway through the race and had it worked they would have been sitting very pretty.
About ten seconds after making the switch, though, it was clear that it was not the play to make and Vettel spent a lap sliding around the Istanbul Park circuit before trundling back into the pits to get back onto intermediates.
That completely ruined his race and from there it was just a case of going through the motions – a shame.