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Max Verstappen Retakes F1 Lead With Second in Turkey

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Red Bull Racing celebrated Honda’s fabled Formula 1 heritage with a throwback livery in this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix, and the team’s drivers then went out and turned in a performance that would have made the team’s former World Champions proud.

Max Verstappen negotiated a wet Istanbul layout to take a strong second-place finish that, coupled with a fifth-place result from Lewis Hamilton, put Verstappen back atop the F1 Driver’s Championship with a six-point advantage. Fellow Red Bull pilot Sergio Perez put together a strong drive that included a late-race pass for third, giving the Red Bull Hondas their first double-podium since June 20.

The Scuderia AlphaTauri Hondas got back in the scoring column after being blanked in the last two races, qualifying both cars in the top 10 and getting a sixth-place finish from Pierre Gasly while Yuki Tsunoda finished 14th.

Verstappen both started and finished second and ran largely unhindered through 58 laps. The Dutchman chased racewinner Valtteri Bottas around the 3.31-mile track on a day where the circuit never dried out after morning rains, keeping the teams on the intermediate Pirelli tires.

Perez had a much more eventful race, including a move inside of Gasly and Fernando Alonso on the opening turn of the race to move into fourth. He showed his mettle on Lap 36, holding fourth place after a five-turn wheel-to-wheel challenge from Hamilton, and then made a tough pass of Charles Leclerc with four laps to go to take third.

Gasly ran well after starting fourth but received a penalty from race stewards on the opening-lap incident, getting a five-second penalty for contact with Alonso on the aforementioned pass by Perez. Undaunted, Gasly ran at the sharp end of the field and closed to within a second of Hamilton for fifth in the race’s waning laps before settling for sixth.

Verstappen regained the points lead that he yielded two weeks ago, while Perez closed to within 10 points of Lando Norris for fourth place in the championship. Red Bull Racing is second, 36 points behind, in the Constructor’s Championship, while AlphaTauri continues to run sixth in the standings. The series will have a week off before heading to the United States for the Oct. 24 event at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

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Toyoharu Tanabe
Technical Director, Honda 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 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 tire management skills, finishing 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.”

Max Verstappen – Red Bull Racing Honda
Start 2nd, Finish: 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 tires, 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 maximized the result today and it’s good to be leading the Drivers’ Championship again. I do wish I had a bit more pace in but we are still in the fight, we’ll keep pushing and we’ll see in the coming races how competitive we will be.”

Sergio Perez – Red Bull Racing Honda
Start: 6th, Finish: 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 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 tires, he had good pace and I thought he might get past me but it turned into a good came fight and I 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.”

Pierre Gasly – Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Start: 4th, Finish: 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.”

Yuki Tsunoda – Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Start: 9th, Finish: 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 tire 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 tires, but I’m disappointed as I was really hoping to get points to help the team in the championship.”