Lap 4/58 Hamilton is really almost there! Does he try to win the race – he’s 19.866 behind Stroll now – or at least make the podium? Or does he take is nice and easy, spending the next hour or so party-planning?
Lap 4/58 We see the start again, this time from above, and there really was all sorts going on. I thought Verstappen got a bad one, but actually he got a good one then a dreadful one, losing all of his tord grip.
Lap 3/58 Verstappen skids onto the kerb and slinks even further back! Albon is really close to him now! Stroll leads by 5.187s, Vettel is 12.142 behind.
Lap 2/58 It is nasty out there!
Lap 1/58 Have a look! Stroll leads Perez leads Vettel, and Verstappen comes back to take Hamilton, then Hamilton’s brakes lock! He’s skating like you can’t believe, and Albon takes him out!
Lap 1/58 Verstappen crawls off the track, but Hamilton gets a decent one, Vettel too, while Stroll and Perez power away!
Bottas spins out! He’ll be back, but if Hamilton stays on the track, this is done!
Lap 1/58 They inch off the line and Bottas spins out!
The formation lap is underway. It’s pretty clear now, but probably not for long – and there’s still plenty of shpritz.
We see some lovely drone shots of Istanbul. The sun is shining and it’s really nice.
Hamilton looked very chilled – or “chill” as we now have to say – says Johnny Herbert. The ability of sportsfolk to handle the maelstrom is absolutely insane. I get excited after completing a tricky parallel park.
I’ve covered a lot of sports over a lot of years, but I’ve not covered many as potentially momentous as this, with a competitor set to become the (joint-) greatest ever. I know Hamilton has talked about calling it quits, but I can’t help but wonder what kind of mark he can set. It’s almost unfathomable.
Suddenly everyone dives for cover, fingers in ears – there’s a fly-by. Eesh.
Stroll plans to be aggressive and attack from the start. It’s obviously a huge advantage to have no one in front – always, but especially in these conditions – but does he have the pace to get away from Verstappen?
Stroll, apparently, noted that as a child of “the north” – this sounds like Westeros – he’s used to driving in the rain, especially on the circuit his dad owned. Same here, old mate. Same here.
Hamilton, in BLM t-shirt, takes a knee along with some of his colleagues.
It’s stopped raining, but the radar shows another heavy shower arriving in about half an hour. I guess we’ll probably see a regular start, in that case.
George Russell has a problem that I guess developed when my computer had its moment. It should be fixed in time for the start.
Hamilton has won a third of all the grands prix he’s started. That is absolutely rrrrrridiculous.
Hamilton says he’s not been thinking about his seventh title – course you haven’t sweetheart – but he says that when he’s racing he just tries to focus on the now. He wants to know everything about the car, focus on his strategy and make sure he enjoys himself. He then says he’s got to find a way to win the trickiest conditions – “That’s what I live for”. Me too, old mate. Me too.
Apologies, my computer crashed, but we’re back now. It’s absolutely nasty out there, and I wonder if we’re going to see a safety-car start.
As you might expect, everyone is on wets. I daresay the aforementioned Schumacher would’ve fancied this one.
The front side of his left wing could well be damaged, and he might be out of the race before it’s even started! I daresay we’ll see some safety car situations today.
Daniil Kvyat spins off in the practice lap! He’s stuck in some gravel!
It’s really wet out there. The rain is stopping and there’s some blue sky, but it’s expected to start again and EXCUSE ME WHILE I INTERRUPT MYSELF!
The last time there was no Williams, McLaren or Ferrari in the top 10 was in 1963.
So it’s not good for Hamilton but pretty good for Hamilton – Bottas will have to go some to get by him, never mind in the rain. All Hamilton has to focus on is shutting the door, except some people aren’t built like that. At the front, Verstappen is a 4/6 favourite – not gonna lie, I had a tickle on him at 4/1 after the first practice – while Lance Stroll, at the top of the grid, is still 16s. I don’t know, is what I’m trying to say.
There are lots of incredible sportsfolk out there, and Lewis Hamilton is already enshrined among them. But today, given a fair wind – or rain – he’ll elevate himself one step further, by joining Michael Schumacher as F1’s, er … most winningest driver.
As the great man has noted, though, it’s not just about that. Of the aforementioned incredible sportsfolk, some stand for simply being incredible at sport – Roger Federer, Lionel Messi, Michael van Gerwen – others for being incredible at sport but also for a way of being – Diego Maradona, Ronda Rousey, John McEnroe – and others still who stand for being incredible at sport and for a way of being, but ultimately for making the world a better place – Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, Marcus Rashford – and Hamilton.
Those of us who are not champions cannot imagine what it takes to be a champion, and what it has taken for Hamilton to become a champion, in the sport of F1, is a whole nother thing. But what he’s doing now, so that there will never have to be another him, is very very special. He is an absolute hero, we are in absolute awe.
Back to today, if Hamilton wins, he’s champion; if he finishes above Valtteri Bottas, he’s champion; if he comes second to Bottas and Bottas doesn’t take the fastest lap bonus point, he’s champion; if Bottas doesn’t finish eight points ahead of him, he’s champion.
This is going to be epochal (probably).
Lights out: 1.10pm local, 10.10am GMT