Gary Anderson: Hamilton made it happen while others just moaned - The Race
Formula 1

Gary Anderson: Hamilton made it happen while others just moaned

Nov 16 2020
By Gary Anderson

The thing to remember when looking back on the weekend of chaos that was the Turkish Grand Prix is that the cream somehow always rises to the top.

Lewis Hamilton didn’t have an easy weekend, but battled through to take another win and with it his seventh world drivers’ championship.

There is no better way to win a championship than with a race victory and Hamilton will remember this one for a long time.

Meanwhile, his team-mate Valtteri Bottas – the only one left who could, mathematically at least, do anything about that seventh world title – fell by the wayside.

Actually, let’s rephrase that. Bottas tugged around for the whole race spinning numerous times after picking up damage with his error at Turn 9 when he hit Esteban Ocon’s Renault. He never looked like offering any sort of competition to anyone. He was lapped – yes, lapped – by his winning team-mate.

Let’s not forget there that they were both driving a Mercedes. We often say Hamilton only wins because he is in the best car and that is correct, he is in the best car.

But he wins, and has earned the best car, because when the chips are down he gets the job done.

On the way to ‘another Hamilton win’ it was great to see the underdogs getting one over the big boys.

Valtteri Bottas Mercedes F1 2020

Watching Lance Stroll sitting on pole position with Racing Point team-mate Sergio Perez third was great, it brought back many happy memories.

Then for both of them to make faultless starts and disappear into the distance was fantastic.

The big question was could they hang on and for quite a while it looked like it was going to be possible.

I was tweeting from lap one that they needed to keep the wet tyres cool. I know the big problem over the weekend was getting any heat into the tyres, but when it comes to the race and repetitive laps once the heat is there, it’s about making sure they don’t overheat – or, more importantly, wear out.

Once Charles Leclerc pitted for intermediates and showed that they were faster, everyone more or less followed suit.

The only major change caused by the timing of those tyre changes was Max Verstappen leap-frogging Sebastian Vettel for third by staying out longer on wets.

Vettel had a fantastic first lap to come from 11th on the grid to third and in these conditions he was right back in it.

The big decision, and the one that dictated the outcome of the race, was do you stop for a second set of inters, wait to see if it dried enough for slicks or just stick it out and see what would happen?

In the end, first and second stuck it out and Hamilton, once in the lead, disappeared up the road.

Sergio Perez Racing Point F1 2020

Perez, who knew his battle was not with Hamilton, did the best he could to look after his tyres and hold onto that coveted podium position.

Vettel and Leclerc both stopped for a second time and were right in the battle with Perez for second at the last corner of the last lap.

The fact that ultimately both strategies worked to a degree shows that as long as the driver buys into what they need to do then a good end result is possible.

Some of the other drivers, like Max Verstappen who made too many mistakes this weekend, spent too much time complaining.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy in those conditions and all the driver can do is relate to the team what is happening to them.

But as the driver, you are the only one that can do anything about your situation. There is no magic wand in the pits waiting to sprinkle fairy dust over your car and fix everything.

Verstappen missed out on what he thought should have been his pole position by not being able to get the intermediate tyres working correctly.

Both he and the Red Bull team should have reacted to that and known that the problem was still going to be there come race day unless they came up with a solution or he drove differently.

That didn’t happen, and his race went awry too.

Lance Stroll Racing Point F1 2020

As for Stroll, he did his fair share of complaining about understeer and front tyre graining.

That was very understandable as he was driving exceptionally well in the early stages while comfortably leading.

After the race, the team discovered the reason for his slide backwards when it found damage to the underside of his front wing that was a significant contributor to the severe graining issues that he experienced during his second and third stints on the intermediate tyres – from lap 17 onwards in the 58-lap race.

When you fit new inters and the track is drying, you will pick up bucketloads of rear grip. You can accelerate much earlier, but that leads to much more understeer and front tyre graining.

To try to overcome this, you need to add some front wing to put some load into the front axle. It’s a brave move because too much will turn to oversteer later the tyre’s life, so it’s a gamble.

But that’s why I say the driver needs to find solutions to these sort of problems. Everyone is having them and that is why Hamilton was very slow early on with fresh tyres. But as I said at the outset, the cream has a habit of rising to the top.

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes F1 2020

Hamilton overruled his Mercedes team when it wanted to stop again two laps from the end and fit a second set of inters, mainly for safety reasons as the talk was of heavy rain on the last lap.

But he decided no, he remembered China 2007 and the error that cost him that title.

The pitlane was very slippery and it would have been easy to make a mistake and, what’s more, the cars that had stopped were all complaining about understeer.

Hamilton decided if it did rain again he would have to just deal with it.

He was right in saying after the race that his worn-out inters were keeping the heat in them.

Even when the tread is just about disappearing, they still have more rubber on them than the slicks so more mass to retain the heat. Also, as they were worn both front and rear they still kept a reasonable balance.

Basically he was on slicks which were probably a softer compound than what Pirelli had brought as a soft slick, so as long as the white stuff didn’t start to appear he was home and dry. Well, just a bit damp.

Anyway, that was the Turkish GP. It was a fun race and I’m really surprised that we still had 17 cars finish it.

There were lots of spins but only three retirements and they were all mechanical retirements, no safety cars and only one VSC (for Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo suffering a gearbox failure). That’s impressive all round.

Nov 15 : Turkish Grand Prix review
Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Turkish Grand Prix Race Day Istanbul, Turkey

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