ISTANBUL — Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas won in Turkey for his first victory of the season Sunday, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished second to reclaim the overall lead from title rival Lewis Hamilton.
Sergio Perez capped a strong day for Red Bull by finishing in third place of the Turkish Grand Prix. He erased Hamilton’s two-point lead and now leads the Mercedes driver by six points with six races left in a thrilling title battle that could go all the way to the season finale in Abu Dhabi.`
Defending champion Hamilton lost valuable points by finishing fifth after coming in for a late tire change, despite telling his team he wanted to stay on track when still in third.
Hamilton, who won the pole but started 11th because of a grip penalty for an engine change, increasingly grew agitated as he fell behind Leclerc and with Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri gaining on him.
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“Just leave it alone,” he snapped to his race engineer when informed of Gasly’s gap.
Bottas finally got the winning feeling again when he overtook Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with about a dozen laps left, clinching his first victory since the Russian GP in September last year.
“Haha, yes!” Bottas shouted after his 10th career win and a much-needed one during a frustrating last season with Mercedes before joining Alfa Romeo next year.
To cap it off he clocked the fastest lap on the 5.3-kilometer (3.3-mile) Istanbul Park circuit beneath a gray sky amid persistent drizzle.
Hamilton finally came in for new tires on Lap 51 but did not agree with the decision.
“Why did you give up that place?” a frustrated Hamilton barked on team radio using an expletive.
Leclerc came in earlier than Hamilton and placed fourth, missing out on a 14th career podium.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo started from the back after complete engine changes.
Sainz Jr. managed to finish a commendable eighth.