The Turkish Grand Prix may have been a slow, procession race, but it was also a tough game of wearing tire poker, and after it was over, the players kept trying to bully each other.
With six of the 21 rounds of the race, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leads the Drivers’ Championship by six points over Mercedes champion Lewis Hamilton.
The battle has not been so close since 2016 when Hamilton defeated Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by five points.
After the spray was over, both teams started spinning. Mental games were also internal after Hamilton ended the race blaming Mercedes Tactics for at least fifth place.
Most of the races were run under a cloud of uncertainty with the rain constantly threatening but never heavy.
Only two drivers who started with grid penalties, Hamilton and Carlos Sanz Ferrari, continued to drive aggressively.
Verstappen was content to score second and score the required points.
The Dutchman said his biggest challenge was to “stay awake”.
Mercedes won with Voltaire Botas and Red Bull won 33 of 36 points. But the Austrian team had two podium finishers, Sergio Perez third and Verstapen leading the drivers’ championship.
“I think we managed to maximize the result,” Verstapen said before suggesting he was an underdog.
“I wish my car had a little more speed,” said the Dutchman. “But we are in a fight and we keep fighting, and we will see in the coming races how competitive we are going to be.”
Hamilton was furious after changing tires late, which he thought cost him two places.
“We shouldn’t have come in,” he told Team Radio. “I told you!”
He later became a good team player.
“We win as a team and we lose as a team. Overall, the car was great this weekend.” “If we can continue to do the same in the next few races, we will be in a good position by the end of the season.”
It is difficult to decide the form for the last six races.
The next three – in the United States, Mexico and Brazil – were not held last year.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia are new and the last one, Abu Dhabi, has been redesigned to have a reputation as boring on a circuit.
“I have stopped judging whether this is a historically strong race for us,” said Tutu Wolf, owner of Mercedes.
Red Bull owner Christian Horner loved his team’s opportunities.
“We’re going to Austin, where we should be mixed, then Mexico and Brazil, where we’ve always been strong,” he said.
“We don’t know anything about Qatar, we don’t know anything about Jeddah. It’s the same with Abu Dhabi.” “So you could say it’s 50-50.”
Mercedes has dominated Austin since 2014, pulling the pole every time and winning every year except 2018.
“Austin is one of Lewis’s strongest circuits and we know he’s very fast there,” Horner said.
Engines lose performance at high altitudes in Mexico City, which has generally favored Red Bull’s improved aerodynamics.
Verstappen won in 2017 and 2018 and lost only in 2019 to Hamilton due to a penalty.
The Dutchman last won the race in Brazil in 2019, but Hamilton has won there twice.
Worstapen also won in Abu Dhabi last year, but Hamilton won the last two.
Mercedes has won seven straight drivers and constructors titles, but Red Bull and its engine supplier Honda seem to have filled the gap.
Between 2014 and 2020, the Red Bull had six pole positions. This season, Versatile has eight, while two Mercedes men have five.
“We’re fighting it and we’re not giving up, and at this stage of the championship, leading the drivers, still in touch with the constructors, it’s extraordinary,” Horner said.