Hamilton is fastest but takes grid penalty. Bottas on pole for Turkish Grand Prix

Championship points leader Lewis Hamilton ended up quickest in qualifying but due to a power unit change, teammate Valtteri Bottas will instead start on pole position with Max Verstappen joining the Mercedes driver on the front tow.

In a session that was overcast throughout, with spots of rain falling in Q1, the drivers were able to run slick tyres for the duration, with all the top ten runners except for Yuki Tsunoda getting through Q2 on the more durable medium compound, which they will all start Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix.

Hamilton had come into the session knowing he would drop ten positions from wherever he qualified, with Bottas leading the way for Mercedes after the first Q3 runs had been completed on a one minute, 23.071 seconds, with Hamilton second 0.022 seconds adrift.

Hamilton then took an unorthodox approach to the rest of the final part of qualifying, leaving his garage on a new set of softs with over five minutes of Q3 remaining.

He found time on his second flying lap to move ahead of Bottas on a one minute, 22.868 seconds, with the session’s best times in the second and third sectors.

Hamilton then back off ahead of completing a third Q3 flier, before which Bottas and Verstappen had their second goes and sole attempts to depose the world champion at the head of the times.

Bottas was 0.005 seconds ahead of Hamilton by the end of the second sector, but he lost time in the final third and wound up 0.13 seconds adrift.

Verstappen went through the second sector 0.134 seconds down on Hamilton and he too lost time in the final corners and finished 0.328 seconds down on the best time.

That remained Hamilton’s second Q3 flier, as although his third attempt started with the fastest time in the final sector he lost time through the rest of the lap, at the end of which he was already confirmed at the top of the times.

Charles Leclerc’s final Q3 lap bumped him up to fourth, knocking Pierre Gasly down one spot as the AlphaTauri driver was left to rue time lost in the final sector on his final Q3 lap.

Fernando Alonso took sixth ahead of Sergio Perez and Lando Norris, with Lance Stroll, who made it through to the shootout despite a late off at Turn 1 in Q2, and Tsunoda completing the top ten.

Leclerc’s late jump at the end of Q2 meant Sebastian Vettel was shuffled out in P11 after his personal best at the end of the middle segment was only good enough for briefly slotting into P10.

Behind Vettel came Esteban Ocon and George Russell, who rued a wild slide off the track at the final corner on his final lap.

The Williams driver had just set two personal bests in the opening two sectors and was on to challenge for another Q3 berth, but his successful attempts to catch the slides still put him too wide and he back off after returning to the track for the final run to the line.

Mick Schumacher scored a first on-merit Q2 appearance of his Formula 1 career, with the Haas driver ending up P14 – his best qualifying result so far – ahead of Carlos Sainz, who did not post a time as he will start Sunday’s race from last following his engine-change grid penalty.

Sainz did appear right at the end of Q2 to complete sectors on an out lap, where he was able to tow Leclerc down the hill out of Turn 8 on the lap that elevated the Ferrari driver into the top ten.

Q1 began with the cars queuing at the end of the pitlane well before the session began, the teams concerned the rain that fell throughout the morning at Istanbul and at the start of FP3 would return.

Spots of rain did fall during the opening segment, but not any intensity that would require intermediates and so the drivers stayed on the softs throughout Q1, which was topped by Hamilton.

He was one of many drivers to have off track moments and times deleted for running too wide out of the first corner, with Verstappen, Sainz, Tsunoda and Nikita Mazepin all spinning through the demanding, downhill left-hander.

Once the rain threat had receded, Sainz’s late improvement at the death in Q1 knocked out Daniel Ricciardo, who had completed his final flier well before the chequered flag came out and so was shuffled down the order and into danger as others improved behind him,

The same thing happened to Nicholas Latifi, who had been running near the top of the order during the early stages, and Antonio Giovinazzi – the pair knocked out in P17 and P18.

Kimi Raikkonen could not hit a personal best on his final Q1 lap as he was eliminated in P19, only ahead of Mazepin, who did produce his best time on his last effort, which was nevertheless the slowest lap in the opening segment.

So an excellent team effort from Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton looks very quick and even though he was the fastest in qualifying, the grid penalty will drop him in the mid pack but the pace looks good for the championship leader to recovery. As for Valtteri Bottas, he has a job in going for his first win this season and preventing Max Verstappen in scoring a top result for Red Bull. Bring on the race.

Qualifying positions, Turkish Grand Prix:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:22.998
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:23.196
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:23.265
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:23.326
5 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:23.477
6 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1:23.706
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.954
8 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:24.305
9 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1:24.368
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:24.795
11 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’22.868*
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1:24.842
13 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:25.007
14 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1:25.200
15 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.881
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:26.086
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari 1:26.430
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari 1:27.525
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:28.449
20 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari No time
*Ten-place grid penalty following power unit change

6 thoughts to “Hamilton is fastest but takes grid penalty. Bottas on pole for Turkish Grand Prix”

  1. Turkish Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton went fastest in qualifying for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix but will take a 10-place grid penalty for his Mercedes engine change, meaning P2 qualifier Valtteri Bottas will start on pole position on Sunday ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

    The 100% risk of rain predicted ahead of the session manifested in the form of light drizzle in Q1 but the clouds soon dissipated and the track matured to see Lewis Hamilton take top spot in that session, just 0.007s ahead of Max Verstappen. Q2 saw Hamilton repeat the feat, and he delivered again in the final session with an ultimate effort of 1m22.868s – a new lap record at Istanbul Park.

    Bottas was 0.130s off in P2, which will be pole when Hamilton’s engine penalty demotes him to P11 – while Verstappen was 0.328s off top spot in third.

    That left Charles Leclerc fourth on the grid for Ferrari ahead of Pierre Gasly, the AlphaTauri driver within half a second of pole.

    Fernando Alonso outqualified Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, and the Alpine driver will have a tough task to keep not only the P7 qualifier behind him but also Lando Norris of McLaren (P8) away too.

    Lance Stroll of Aston Martin and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top 10.

    Mick Schumacher made it to Q2 for Haas for only the second time. He qualified a career-best 14th behind Williams’ George Russell, whose Q3 hopes were dashed with a late off at the final corner in Q2. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was a shock elimination from Q1 in P16 having set his fastest lap before the track rubbered in sufficiently.

    Qualifying 15th was Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, but penalties for his new engine mean the Spaniard will start last alongside Nikita Mazepin of Haas.

    Q1 – Hamilton ends up just 0.007s ahead of Verstappen, Ricciardo suffers a shock

    Light drizzle in the air, drivers struggled for traction at the start of Q1, Max Verstappen’s early spin serving as proof while Lewis Hamilton’s first flying effort was ruined as he struggled to stay on track. The Briton was naturally eager to get pole, a 10-place grid penalty for his new Mercedes engine only adding to that desire.

    The rain soon retreated, and the championship rivals traded blows for the top time. It was Hamilton who emerged from Q1 in P1, his time of 1m 24.585s putting him 0.007s clear of Verstappen – while Pierre Gasly took third for AlphaTauri ahead of fourth-place Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, grip levels rapidly rising.

    Sergio Perez (Red Bull) rounded out the top five ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in P6, McLaren’s Russia polesitter Lando Norris in seventh, and Fernando Alonso in eighth for Alpine. Despite a back-of-grid penalty looming for Carlos Sainz thanks to his new Ferrari engine, he emerged for qualifying and spun to ruin his first flying effort, before improving to P9.

    Yuki Tsunoda swapped ends at the exit of Turn 1 to jeopardise his chances of making Q2 but shot to 10th with a late flying effort, finishing ahead of Williams’ George Russell in P11 and 12th-place Esteban Ocon of Alpine.

    Improving conditions paid dividends for the likes of Mick Schumacher (P14) – who reached Q2 for Haas for the second time in his career – and Aston Martin compatriot Sebastian Vettel (P15), who profited while McLaren’s Monza winner Daniel Ricciardo (P16) and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi (P17) were eliminated.

    Behind them were the two Alfa Romeos and Haas’s Nikita Mazepin, who suffered two excursions off the track at Turn 1 – but it’ll be Sainz who starts last on Sunday.

    Knocked out: Ricciardo, Latifi, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Mazepin

    Q2 – Hamilton and Bottas go clear while Schumacher stars

    Ferrari’s Sainz sat out this session with that penalty in his mind, so 14 drivers took to the track for Q2 – which began with a Perez spin at Turn 1. All the drivers bar Tsunoda, Russell and Schumacher equipped mediums.

    And it was Hamilton who set the early pace of 1m 23.595s, despite his complaint that “it takes too long to get [tyre] temps” on the challenging surface. He improved to 1m 23.082s to go half a second clear of second-placed Bottas, with Verstappen third and 0.650s away.

    Fourth was Gasly, the AlphaTauri driver joined in Q3 by his team mate Tsunoda (P8), the rookie making the final session for the first time since Austria. Between them was Alonso in P5, Perez in P6, and Leclerc – whose first effort was aborted with a last-corner spin – in seventh for Ferrari.

    Ninth-place Stroll survived to make Q3 despite a Turn 1 lock-up on his flying lap, and it was Norris who completed the top 10 to leave Vettel in P11 and Ocon in P12, the Frenchman having suffered a snap of oversteer at Turn 4 on his final lap.

    Russell swapped softs for mediums, but his final flying effort was ruined when he ran wide at the final corner, leaving him frustrated and out in P13. Schumacher finished two-tenths off in P14 – his best F1 qualifying yet – having backed out of his flying effort to slow for Stroll.

    Knocked out: Vettel, Ocon, Russell, Schumacher, Sainz

    Q3 – P1 for Hamilton but Bottas ensures pole

    The track still had more to give, and so did Hamilton. He managed an opening lap of 1m 23.093s to go second, just 0.022s behind early leader Bottas – but 0.2s ahead of Verstappen. Curiously, Hamilton emerged alone after the first laps had been completed to do another run, which saw him improve to P1 with a time of 1m 22.868s and a lap record.

    Hamilton would not improve, but team mate Bottas would – eventually going 0.130s off his team mate – for P2 and what will be pole position on Sunday. Verstappen, over three-tenths off the pace, will still start on the front row when Hamilton’s 10-place grid penalty kicks in.

    Ferrari’s Leclerc managed P4 – his late run giving him a second-row start for Sunday – ahead of AlphaTauri’s Gasly in P5, while Alpine’s Alonso took P6 to ensure there will be five different teams in the top five grid spots on Sunday.

    Perez could only manage P7 for Red Bull, with Norris P8 as the highest-placed McLaren – while Stroll and Tsunoda rounded out the top 10, swapping positions after their first Q3 laps.

  2. Toto Wolff reckons Lewis Hamilton’s Turkey progress will be “tough” after FP2 traffic issues. Motorsport.com has the full details.

    Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff believes it will be tough for Lewis Hamilton to move up in Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix after being alarmed by traffic issues in free practice.

    Hamilton took pole on Saturday ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, but a 10-place grid penalty for a new engine means he will cede the front row to his teammate and to his title rival respectively, and start from 11th.

    While Mercedes appears to enjoy a considerable pace advantage at Istanbul Park, Wolff thinks that it will be hard for Hamilton to move up after witnessing the championship leader being stuck in traffic in Friday practice and he believes the team will have to bank on a clever strategy instead.

    “Yesterday in the long run at a certain stage we were behind a Haas and also a Williams and it was very difficult to even come close,” Wolff explained to Sky.

    “I guess that strategy is more going to be the one that’s going to help tomorrow.

    “You need to look at the positives that the car is very quick, and we can start from pole.

    “On the negative side, it’s a weekend where we could have had a front row lockout and we haven’t, we need to go to the back and it’s not going to be easy with all the cars running on medium in front of him apart from [AlphaTauri’s soft tyre running] Yuki Tsunoda. Progress will be a tough one.”

    Asked if Bottas will be required to help Hamilton, Wolff said that the best thing the Finn could do is to simply hold off Verstappen and win the race.

    “We have to look after ourselves,” he said. “Valtteri wants to win the race, and this is the best opportunity, and it’s helping Lewis.

    “The Red Bulls have been so competitive this weekend and over the long runs, it was worse than on a single lap.”

    Hamilton was also wary of traffic issues in the race but said his goal to still try and win the race is “not impossible”.

    “My eyes are still solely set on winning the race,” Hamilton told Sky. “It’s going to be very hard from 11th, but not impossible.

    “I don’t know what the weather is going to do tomorrow also, so just staying on my toes and making sure that we deliver maximum attack tomorrow.

    “I honestly have got to take it one step at a time tomorrow. It’s a long race.

    “If I can be higher up early on, then great, but I’ve got to stay out of trouble of course, and that will be my priority initially, and see if it’s possible to pick them off one by one.”

    He added: “It’s not the easiest overtaking at the moment and we’re all on the same tyre as well, so I imagine tomorrow is going to be difficult to move up.”

  3. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc managed to grab P3 came despite “tricky” set-up gamble. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Charles Leclerc says his surprising third place on the grid for Formula 1’s Turkish Grand Prix came despite a low downforce set-up gamble that made things tricky for him in qualifying.

    Although Saturday’s track action took place in damp but drying conditions, Ferrari elected to commit to a race biased set-up on Leclerc’s car that will help boost his straightline speed in Sunday’s race.

    That choice made it harder for Leclerc to get temperature into his rubber through Saturday’s qualifying sessions though. But, after a helpful tow from teammate Carlos Sainz, he got through to Q3 and then grabbed the fourth fastest time right at the end.

    With Lewis Hamilton dropping back from pole to take 11th on the grid, it means Leclerc will start third and be in good shape as long as things stay dry.

    Speaking about the wing level choice, Leclerc said: “I knew it was going to be a tricky session for us because we decided to go for a low-downforce set-up for this qualifying for tomorrow.

    “Eventually I think it is the right choice, but for today it was going to be tricky.

    “So in Q2, thanks to Carlos obviously for the tow, otherwise I think it would have been a bit tighter to get to Q3 with the traffic I had in the last three corners.”

    Ferrari’s strong pace – as he ended up just 0.267 seconds slower than pole man Valtteri Bottas – has been a surprise with the leading Mercedes and Red Bull teams often well clear in front.

    Asked why he felt the Ferrari was working so well in Istanbul, Leclerc said: “I’m not completely sure to be honest.

    “As well as this, it’s a bit strange to be honest, because also the midfield seems to be working quite well. We are very close to pole position , everyone is, so it’s good to see that.”

    While he is bullish about his prospects for the race, Leclerc said he would not try anything stupid against the title battling Mercedes and Red Bull cars ahead of him.

    “I won’t take too many risks with the two first,” he said. “We are not fighting with them in the championship. The starts are always tricky, but I won’t take too many risks.”

  4. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen doesn’t think the team has the pace to win the Turkish Grand Prix. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Max Verstappen does not believe Red Bull has the pace to beat Mercedes in Formula 1’s 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, where he will start second alongside Valtteri Bottas.

    Verstappen’s title rival, Lewis Hamilton, topped qualifying at Istanbul, but will start the race from 11th as a result of the grid penalty he will receive for taking a fourth engine of the season ahead of Friday practice in Turkey.

    After qualifying third, 0.328s slower than Hamilton and 0.198s adrift of Bottas, Verstappen was asked if he thinks his team has enough performance to win the Sunday’s race, to which he replied: “No, but we’ll of course just try to follow and see what we can do. And see what happens in the race in general.”

    Verstappen has had a frustrating opening two days of track action at Istanbul – struggling with understeer and then random snaps of oversteer during FP2, spinning in the wet-to-dry FP3 session, and also going around at the start of Q1.

    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner stated after Friday practice that his team had “a busy night [ahead] burning the midnight oil with the engineers and back in Milton Keynes as well” to try and fix Verstappen’s “balance mish-mash”.

    Verstappen said that as a result of that work, Red Bull had “made some decent improvements compared to yesterday, where we were struggling a bit more to understand how to be quick around here”.

    He added: “[The team was] just trying to work on that and I think in qualifying again it was a little bit better, but of course still not perfect.

    “I was still quite happy with the result at the end and the lap itself. Can’t really be too disappointed about that.”

    Verstappen will move up on spot on the grid as a result of Hamilton’s penalty, with his title rival set to start outside the top 10 – although on the same medium tyres as Verstappen and Bottas.

    But Verstappen is pessimistic about starting from the left-hand side of the grid, away from the racing line, alongside Bottas – the same spot where he made a poor getaway in last year’s wet race.

    “I don’t think that’s a great place to start – on the inside,” said the Dutchman. “Because there is no grip on the inside line. We’ll see how that goes.”

  5. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was “fully going” for Turkey Formula 1 pole, not asked to help Lewis Hamilton. Motorsport.com provides the details.

    Valtteri Bottas says he was “fully going” in his bid to top qualifying at Formula 1’s 2021 Turkish Grand Prix and was not asked to lift to help Lewis Hamilton.

    Bottas will start Sunday’s race from pole position as a result of his Mercedes teammate’s grid penalty for taking a fourth engine of the season ahead of proceedings getting underway at Istanbul this weekend.

    He finished 0.13s down on Hamilton’s best time in Q3, with Bottas only completing the typical two flying laps in that segment while Hamilton took three goes – his second effort producing qualifying’s fastest time (and another new Istanbul track record).

    Bottas was 0.005s up on Hamilton’s fastest lap after two thirds of his final Q3 flier had been completed, but a slow final sector – where the Finn slid deep at the Turn 12 left-hand hairpin at the end of Istanbul’s main straight – meant he lost out.

    When asked if the late time loss was part of a plan to ensure Hamilton qualified ahead and therefore starts 11th and not 12th in the grand prix, Bottas, who was speaking in the post-qualifying press conference, said: “No, I wasn’t asked to slow down and I was definitely going for it.

    “I started to struggle a bit with the front end in the last sector, so I just had some understeer in Turn 12 and 14.

    “I could feel that I was losing a bit of time – probably used the tyres a bit more earlier in the lap. So yeah, I was fully going for it, for sure.”

    Bottas also stated that the way qualifying had turned out for Mercedes was “the ideal” and “perfect in a way” because of “the situation we have with Lewis’s penalty”.

    He added: “But the session itself – Q1 was tricky with the damp conditions and to be honest, even at the end of Q3 there was still a couple of spots that there was small damp places and you needed to be a bit cautious to find the best way around them.

    “But I enjoyed it. The grip level was still decent and from the start of the weekend the car has been in a pretty good window in terms of the set-up.

    “So, didn’t need to make massive changes. I enjoyed it.”

  6. George Russell felt “disappointed in myself” after a mistake on his final lap in Q2 for the Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix cost Williams another “special Saturday” result.

    After starring in damp conditions to take second on the grid at Spa and third in Sochi, Russell hoped to excel after drizzle through the afternoon left the track damp for the start of qualifying at Istanbul Park.

    Russell made it through to Q2, but an error on his final lap at the end of the session cost him time that meant he could only take 13th on the grid.

    Russell felt he should have been “well inside of Q3” with his last lap time, having fallen four tenths short of Lando Norris’s cut-off time in 10th place.

    “It’s very frustrating because that lap would have probably been good enough for P5, a good six or seven tenths inside the Q3 cutoff,” Russell said when asked about his qualifying by Motorsport.com at Istanbul Park.

    “I was really pushing my limits and went over it twice today, which is two too many mistakes on my behalf.

    “I’m a bit disappointed in myself, you know, we need these conditions to offer these opportunities. Today was an opportunity and I missed out.”

    Russell said that it was “really difficult” for drivers to judge where they could and could not push in the damp conditions after running on slicks throughout qualifying, but still felt he could have produced another impressive result for Williams.

    “All the drivers are in the same situation, and it’s where I sort of pride myself to try and make a bit of a difference,” Russell said.

    “Today we had the opportunity, and we were one corner short of having another one of those special Saturdays.”

    Russell felt that Williams made a step forward in performance compared to his running on Friday, and while he doubted a repeat of a Spa or Sochi result would have been possible, he was frustrated not to be starting higher up the grid

    “The pace of the car was not there yesterday we were very slow, but today we got it fired up in these difficult conditions, [could have] made the most of it,” Russell said.

    “But here we are, starting P13 tomorrow rather than potentially inside the top 10.

    “Starting inside the top 10, if you make a good start you can easily find yourself top eight, top seven, after the first lap everything’s different.

    “With a stellar first lap tomorrow we’ll be top 10 at best, and with the inherent car pace, it’s not enough.

    “It’ll be a long race tomorrow, I don’t know if anybody knows what the correct strategy will be so it’ll be interesting.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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