Sebastian Vettel claimed his first podium of the year, and Scuderia Ferrari’s third, at a wet Turkish Grand Prix.
So far this season, Vettel’s highest finishing place was sixth, all the way back at the Hungarian Grand Prix in August. Vettel had a bad qualifying session, not reaching Q3 and having a starting position of eleventh.
His luck turned and an insane start from the four-time world champion, saw his car storm up to third amongst the first lap chaos. The rest of his race was mostly unproblematic but he had fallen down to fifth. Lance Stroll going backwards down the grid promoted Vettel up to fourth and a podium was becoming realistic.
Going into the dying lap, his team-mate Charles Leclerc, who was sitting in third, went wide attempting to overtake second-placed Sergio Pérez and Vettel was able to slip through and claim third across the finish line.
Vettel said: “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”
Charles Leclerc was evidently disappointed with himself when his last lap lunge on Pérez lost him his third podium of the year. He was unable to control his car when attempting the move which let Vettel by him.
Despite this, he should be really proud of the performance he put in. Like Vettel, he failed to make it through to Q3 and started in twelfth place meaning both drivers had gained eight places each by the time they crossed the line.
“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,” said Leclerc.
“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:m “Overall, as a team, we did a good job”
Team Principal Mattia Binotto missed the weekend at Turkey, deciding to stay at Ferrari’s headquarters in Maranello and focus on the plans for 2021. Despite this, he was able to watch in on all the action and is very pleased on how well his driver duo did.
Binotto said: “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.”