Max Verstappen has retaken the championship lead after finishing second behind Valtteri Bottas in the Turkish Grand Prix, with a late pit stop dropping his main rival Lewis Hamilton back to fifth.
Hamilton, aiming for what would be a record-breaking eighth world championship, set the fastest time in Saturday’s qualifying but was demoted to 11th after taking a 10-place grid for breaking engine regulations.
That meant Verstappen was in the driving seat to secure a good result for his title challenge as he lined up behind Bottas at a damp Istanbul Park circuit.
It was a very accomplished drive from the Finn, who is being replaced at the Silver Arrows next season by George Russell, as he won his first race since last year’s Russian GP.
While Verstappen had to settle for second place, Hamilton looked on course to finish third until Mercedes decided to call him into the pits late on.
Initially, the Briton refused to accept the decision, feeling he had enough life left in his tyres, but he eventually headed into the pits with eight laps to go.
It turned out to be an error as Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc both got past Hamilton, who expressed his anger down the team radio.
“We shouldn’t have come in, man,” Hamilton said. “I have massive graining. I told you.”
On the podium, Verstappen, who now leads the championship by six points, says the close battles will continue in the US Grand Prix in a fortnight, taking place in Austin, Texas.
“I think it’s been close the whole year and I’m sure in Austin it will be another close battle with Mercedes,” said the Dutchman.
“We just have to keep pushing, keep trying to improve and we’ll see where we are at the end – but it’s been a great season so far.”