A wet Turkish Grand Prix full of jeopardy was brilliantly handled by Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri as three Honda-powered cars finished in the top six.
Morning drizzle eased but never fully stopped and under grey skies the low temperatures meant the track did not dry up. So the race started with the entire field on intermediate tyres, Max starting from second ahead of Pierre in fourth, Sergio in sixth and Yuki in ninth.
While Max retained P2 at the first corner, Sergio had the best getaway and was attacking for fourth place down the inside of Turn 1. Pierre was caught in the middle of a sandwich with Sergio on his inside and Fernando Alonso on his outside, and the AlphaTauri tapped the Alpine into a spin, earning Pierre a somewhat harsh five-second time penalty.
Yuki ran eighth after a clean start and then provided some excellent defensive driving to keep Lewis Hamilton at bay for a number of laps. Unfortunately, after finally being overtaken he then suffered a spin at Turn 9 on Lap 22 and dropped out of the top ten.
Max looked after his tyres and pushed to close up on Valtteri Bottas in the lead but couldn’t quite get close enough to attack, instead keeping a safe gap to Charles Leclerc behind him.
The race entered a bit of a holding pattern with Max second, Sergio fourth and Pierre sixth after being passed by Hamilton, with everyone waiting to see if the track would dry enough for slick tyres. As it became clear that wouldn’t happen, the pace picked up and Sergio fought an epic battle with Hamilton, holding off the Mercedes driver after going wheel-to-wheel through a number of corners.
Yuki was first to make a pit stop for another set of intermediate tyres on lap 35 and was followed by Max one lap later and Sergio a lap after that. Pierre came in on lap 39 and took his time penalty, rejoining in sixth place.
Max remained in second while Sergio closed up on both Leclerc and Hamilton ahead who had tried to stay out on intermediates to the flag, but in the end both made pit stops and Sergio managed to clear the Ferrari for third place into Turn 12.
Both Red Bulls - in the special tribute white livery to mark what would have been the Japanese Grand Prix weekend - ended up on the podium for the second time this season, while Pierre recorded his fourth top-six finish in the past six races.
The result also gives Max the lead in the drivers’ championship once again, earning a six-point advantage with six races remaining.
Technical Director, Honda Racing F1
"It was nice to see both Red Bull Racing Honda drivers on the podium in their special livery race suits. Of course we always want to win, but given how quick Mercedes were all weekend, we got the most out of our package and ended up with a good result. Max drove brilliantly as usual to finish where he started and Checo showed his tyre management skills, overtaking those ahead of him to finish on the podium thanks to a very good performance. This result was very important for the title fight from now to the end of the season.
After a couple of difficult races for Scuderia AlphaTauri, Pierre fought back very well today to finish sixth. Yuki might have also finished in the points if he had not made a small mistake. But in the early stages he kept Lewis behind him for many laps, driving well under pressure from the world champion.
This was originally meant to be the Japanese Grand Prix weekend and so both our teams were very motivated. We hope that our Japanese fans enjoyed seeing Honda powered cars finish with a double podium and three drivers in the top six. It was a very good result. There are now just six races to go, split between the Americas and the Middle East and we will keep pushing to do our best and end the year on a high."
Red Bull Racing Honda
Race : 2nd
"As a Team, to finish second and third here was a great result. It was a pretty straight forward race today and I think in general we had a decent day. The race was all about managing tyres, to make sure they lasted to the end which means it wasn’t the most fun race to drive as you always want to push hard. Nevertheless, I think we maximised the result today and it’s good to be leading the Drivers’ Championship again. I do wish I had a bit more pace in the car but we are still in the fight, we’ll keep pushing and we’ll see in the coming races how competitive we will be."
Red Bull Racing Honda
Race : 3rd
"This podium is very special because it was not an easy race for me, it was hard and exhausting at times, so I am very happy this evening. It has been a while since I have been up there, I think the last two or three races we should have been on the podium, but we have been so unlucky. I got a good start, I think there was some contact between Fernando and Pierre into turn one so there were three cars, including me, and I thought we weren’t going to make it but in the end, it was a good result for me. After that I didn’t feel comfortable in the first stint with the car and I lost a lot of ground but then the second stint was all about pushing at the right time and using my experience to get a podium for the Team. Lewis was closing in really fast and at that time I was struggling quite a lot with my tyres, he had good pace and I thought he might get past me but it turned into a good fight and I came out on top. Lewis is a top driver and it was enjoyable racing with him. When I was standing on the podium I saw a lot of Mexican flags in the grandstands, we are so far from home here in Turkey so it was lovely to see. I think there is a lot we can learn from this race, it is a good result for the Team and now we’re looking forward to Austin."
Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Race : 6th
"I’m really happy to be back finishing in the top six, I think this is probably one of our best performances this season, particularly in these difficult conditions. To be finishing just 10 seconds from the podium, after a five second penalty, is really good for us. The turn one incident was a bit unfortunate, I was sandwiched between Sergio and Fernando, we touched a little bit but it was just enough to spin Alonso, so I want to say sorry to him. After that though, the pace was really strong, and I’m pleased with the performance of the car this weekend, it feels nice to have been fast straight from Friday again."
Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Race : 14th
"It’s a real shame today, as I think I could’ve been in a position to finish in the top 10. I used too much tyre early on, battling with Hamilton, and after that it was really hard to keep up the pace. Unfortunately, I then had a spin, and this ruined my whole race. Today was another big learning curve for me, completing so many laps on the Intermediate tyres, but I’m disappointed as I was really hoping to get points to help the team in the championship."