Forget Fury vs Wilder III. Hamilton vs Verstappen is the battle to watch this weekend, but who has the advantage heading into the race, and can either deliver a knockout blow in the championship fight?
This weekend sees the teams head to Istanbul Park, one of the few tracks to run anti-clockwise, as the championship battle rages on. Hamilton currently holds the cards with a 2 point advantage, but with an imminent engine penalty looming, Verstappen could see this as the weekend to retake the lead.
The battle of the second drivers will once again be key. Bottas has a torrid time in Turkey last year, but a strong couple of races would have filled him with confidence heading into Sunday. Perez on the other hand has had major struggles of late. In the last 6 rounds, he’s scored the same number of points as George Russell so will be hoping for a reversal of fortunes.
McLaren vs Ferrari is as close as ever. A recent upturn in form from Daniel Ricciardo has boosted McLaren’s chances of the much-desired P3 in the constructor championship, while Carlos Sainz will be hoping to maintain his lead over Charles Leclerc in the driver championship.
Aston Martin performed sensationally at Istanbul park last year (as Racing Point). Lance Stroll took his first-ever pole position, while Perez converted P3 on the grid to P2 at the chequered flag. The team will be hoping to build on this with the help of last years P3 man, Sebastian Vettel.
Alpha Tauri are in need of a solid weekend, as are Alpine as they fight for P5 in the championship.
Williams appear to be running away with P8 from Alfa Romeo, with Haas desperate to pick up any point they can to avoid finishing the season on 0 points.
WEATHER: There is a 40% chance of rain across all three days of action, but as F1 has proven time and time again in 2021, quite literally anything can happen.
TYRES: Pirelli have gone for the C2, C3 and C4 compounds for this weekend, the middle lot in their range. With tyre wear high at this circuit, expect a two-stop strategy to come into play.
The big question is: ‘Will anyone take turn 8 flat?’ All F1 drivers predicted it would be flat last year, but the circuit was an absolute icerink, so that was not an option. Thanks to some respraying, a flat turn 8 is a realistic bet this year.
Heavy rumours are circulating that Lewis Hamilton will be taking an engine penalty this weekend, but no official confirmation is released on this at the time of writing. If a penalty is taken, this could give Max Verstappen a golden chance to take back the lead of the championship. But, don’t count out Bottas taking what seems like his 15th engine of the season as a ‘tactical’ decision by Merc. I’m joking of course, but never say never!
The Turkish Grand Prix promises to be a thriller, don’t miss it!