Double podium for Red Bull Racing Honda in Turkey
While Max enjoyed a solid, though slightly lonely drive to the second step of the podium behind race winner Valtteri Bottas, Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez found himself duelling with Hamilton for fourth place soon after half distance.
And when Hamilton attacked on lap 42 it looked like the Mexican driver might not hold him off. But while Checo was forced wide at the final corner in a furious tussle with the Mercedes driver, he stayed calm and held his line to push in front again at the start of the following lap and hold his position. And when Hamilton pitted late and dropped back to P5, Checo was able to close in and pass Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the final laps to claim an excellent 13th career podium finish and seal the Team’s second double podium of the season.
On his podium finish, Max Verstappen commented: “As a Team, to finish second and third here was a great result. It was a pretty straight forward race today and I think in general we had a decent day. The race was all about managing tyres, to make sure they lasted to the end which means it wasn’t the most fun race to drive as you always want to push hard. Nevertheless, I think we maximised the result today and it’s good to be leading the Drivers’ Championship again. I do wish I had a bit more pace in the car but we are still in the fight, we’ll keep pushing and we’ll see in the coming races how competitive we will be.”
A race highlight was on lap 34 when Checo defended his position against Hamilton. The pair went wheel-to-wheel for the second half of the lap and as they battled hard Sergio was forced to go inside the bollard at the pit entry. That allowed Hamilton to pull ahead as they crossed the line to start lap 35, but Checo stayed calm and held his line to move back to fourth as they went through turn one.
Max then made his sole pit stop of the race and took another set of intermediates in a quick 2.1s stop. Checo followed and he too took on intermediates.
At the chequered flag, Bottas crossed the line to take his first win of the season. Max followed to take his 54th career podium finish ahead of Checo. With Leclerc fourth ahead of Hamilton and Gasly, seventh place went to Norris. Sainz completed an excellent recovery drive with eighth place at the flag, while Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll took ninth. The final point on offer went to Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.
Discussing his third place, Sergio Perez said: “This podium is very special because it was not an easy race for me, it was hard and exhausting at times, so I am very happy this evening. It has been a while since I have been up there, I think the last two or three races we should have been on the podium, but we have been so unlucky.
“I got a good start, I think there was some contact between Fernando and Pierre into turn one so there were three cars, including me, and I thought we weren’t going to make it but in the end, it was a good result for me.
“After that I didn’t feel comfortable in the first stint with the car and I lost a lot of ground but then the second stint was all about pushing at the right time and using my experience to get a podium for the Team. Lewis was closing in really fast and at that time I was struggling quite a lot with my tyres, he had good pace and I thought he might get past me but it turned into a good fight and I came out on top. Lewis is a top driver and it was enjoyable racing with him.
“When I was standing on the podium I saw a lot of Mexican flags in the grandstands, we are so far from home here in Turkey so it was lovely to see. I think there is a lot we can learn from this race, it is a good result for the Team and now we’re looking forward to Austin.”
To celebrate the teams’ race-winning alliance with power unit supplier Honda, Red Bull Racing Honda raced with a special Japanese livery, on what should have been the occasion of the Japanese GP at Suzuka.
Throughout the season, ExxonMobil supports Red Bull Racing Honda on and off the track. In round one, ExxonMobil developed a new fuel upgrade in collaboration with Red Bull Racing Honda and Honda. Esso Synergy Race Fuel maximizes the power, while protecting the engine. It combines with an advanced Mobil 1 lubrication package to ensure maximum efficiency and performance of the car.
At the end of round 16, Verstappen retakes the lead in the championship on 262.5, only six points ahead of title-rival Hamilton, Perez’s remains fifth in the Drivers’ Standings on 135 points. The team is second in the Constructors' Standing’s on 397.5 points, 36 points behind first position.
Commenting on the race, Team Principal Christian Horner said: “A double podium for us was a great result to come away with this weekend. Max has regained the lead in the drivers’ championship at a track that has traditionally been strong for Mercedes, we limited the damage and it was a great team job with lots of constructor points, so we’ll keep fighting.
“The lead for the championship keeps changing hands and the rest of the year is going to be incredibly tight, we have some big races coming up and it’s good to be putting Mercedes under pressure. For us the crucial moment today was when to pit Checo, we could have kept him out to keep holding up Lewis, but we decided to pit him because we didn’t believe Hamilton’s tyres were going to make it to the end of the race. Checo did an amazing job today, he raced Lewis just as hard as Max does. He went wheel to wheel with him and he actually ended up in the pit lane when Lewis ran him out there, and then it was a drag race down the start-finish straight and he just stuck with it.
“The next race in Austin has been a Hamilton strong hold so we are going to have to be at the very top of our game, it’s great to be in this fight and the whole team is really enjoying it.”
The paddock now heads to the Americas, beginning with Austin for the USA GP on 22nd October, followed by the Mexican GP on 5th November and Brazilian GP on 12th November.