16 places gained overall and a third podium finish of the season, as well as the best team result of the year. Today, Scuderia Ferrari delivered the perfect antidote to yesterday’s very disappointing qualifying in the Turkish Grand Prix.
The result was down to a great job from everyone at the Istanbul Park track as well as from those back in Maranello, including Team Principal Mattia Binotto and especially from Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc who had started from 11th and 12th respectively. They went on to finish third and fourth and brought home 27 points. It means that while the team is still sixth in the Constructors’ classification it is now just 24 points off third place. This was Seb’s first podium of 2020 and follows on from Charles’ in Austria and Great Britain.
Vettel’s result owed much to his first lap when he jumped all the way up to fourth, then third next time round after Lewis Hamilton made a mistake at turn 11. Drivers starting on the right hand side of the grid had a clear advantage in terms of grip and Seb made the most of it. Charles, like the others starting on the left, got away badly, losing two places.
The early stages saw Sebastian fending off the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon, while out in front were the Racing Point duo of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez. Charles however was losing time in the pack and so the team decided to bring him in early, changing from the wets to the intermediate tyres. He immediately had a great pace, moving into the top ten in the space of just five laps.
On lap 32, Stroll and Perez still led, while Albon had got past Seb. Charles had just pitted for his second set of intermediates and was ninth ahead of Lando Norris in the McLaren. On lap 34, Vettel pitted for new intermediates, rejoining ahead of Albon but losing places to Hamilton and Verstappen. On lap 40, Seb passed Stroll for fourth place but shortly after, he had to give best to Charles who was coming back at a stronger pace on newer rubber.
Charles caught and passed Verstappen, who then pitted, which handed fourth place back to Seb. In the closing laps, the Scuderia pair rapidly closed on Perez in the Racing Point. They pounced on him on the very last lap. Perez made a mistake at turn 11 and Charles got past but Checo stuck with him and tried to get the place back. As Leclerc tried to defend by braking late, he went wide at turn 12. Sebastian made the most of the scrap to get ahead of his team-mate, crossing the line just three tenths behind Perez, with Charles fourth. The race was won by Hamilton who took his seventh world title, thus equalling Michael Schumacher’s record. Congratulations to Lewis for a very well deserved championship win!
Statistics. This was Sebastian’s 121st podium, his 55th with Ferrari and the Scuderia’s 773rd. Formula 1 now has its final short break of the year before the Bahrain Grand Prix kicks off the final season-ending triple-header of 2020.
Sebastian Vettel: “There are some races that are special, where anything can happen. I think today’s race confirmed that I have a special relationship with Istanbul Park. One could say my Formula 1 career began here and here again, in what has so far definitely been a difficult season, I have managed to finish on the podium for the first time.
“The first lap was incredible. I got away well and with the heavy wet tyres, I had great grip. Then, when we switched to the intermediates, I struggled a bit more. I think the fact there was less water on the track helped and so, in the closing stages I was really quick. In the last few laps I caught Charles and Perez who were fighting.
“Charles overtook the Racing Point, but locked up at turn 12, so I went inside and I only just missed out on getting second place too. I am sorry for him and I can understand he is very angry about what happened, because in many ways, I see myself in him. But he is so strong that very soon, this day will be completely unimportant in his mind. He drove a great race.”
Charles Leclerc: “I am extremely disappointed with myself. I messed it up in the last corner and there’s not much else to say really, because in the end it’s the result that counts.
“My start was bad, from the dirty side of the track, but then things went better and in the middle part of the race we were extremely quick and I did a good job of catching up with the leading group that had been several seconds in front, but then I threw everything in the bin at the end.
“I am sorry for the team, as we could have finished second today. On the other hand, I am pleased for Seb as he has had a difficult season so far and completely deserves this first podium.”
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal: “After a very difficult Saturday, it’s great to end up as the team that scored the most points on Sunday. We knew that, in these conditions the race would come to those who made the fewest mistakes. Overall, as a team, we did a good job, particularly in terms of strategy. We made brave choices at the right time. It’s also worth noting that we might have done even better, getting both drivers on the podium. Overnight, we worked very hard at the track and back in Maranello to work out why we hadn’t got the tyres to work yesterday and today, that collective effort paid off, as could be seen with both the wets and the intermediates.
“It’s particularly pleasing that Sebastian finally got into the top three. He drove a very strong race, especially that fantastic start. Charles was very quick for long parts of the race. If it had not been for the start and that final slip on the last lap, he would have finished second, but he still had a great race. We’ve made up a bit of ground in the Constructors’ classification, but the gap to those ahead of us is still significant. Here in Istanbul, we confirmed that we have been making progress since Monza and we want to continue doing that in the final three races of the year in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
“Finally, I wish to congratulate Lewis for this very well deserved Drivers’ title, which means he equals the number held by Michael Schumacher.”