Championship leader serving 10-place grid penalty on Sunday’s race for changing engine component
By Yuri Coghe
Lewis Hamilton did as best as he could have in Turkey on Saturday – enough for him to start Sunday’s race in the 11th position.
The seven-time world champion set the fastest lap in the qualifying session on Saturday with a 1.11:868s lap time, dropping 10 places back for having added a new component to his Mercedes engine.
Valtteri Bottas, who came second in the timesheet just 0.130s shy of his teammate’s time, inherited first place and the chance to claim a 10th career win. Championship contender Max Verstappen will start the race in second – and in a good position to regain the top of the driver’s standings.
Currently, the Dutchman who recently turned 24 is two points behind Hamilton in the driver’s championship. Verstappen completely renovated his power unit in the Russian GP two weeks ago, storming from last to second in a great damage limitation result. Tomorrow will, therefore, be Hamilton’s turn to do the same.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly claimed third and fourth starting positions, respectively, to capitalize on strong performances this weekend. Leclerc made it to the Q3 with his final attempt in the Q2.
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso took his Alpine to fifth in the grid to add a fifth constructor to the top-5 and grab his first top-5 start since 2014.
Sergio Perez took the other Red Bull in the grid to sixth, after Hamilton’s penalty. The Austrian team is using a one-off white and red livery this weekend to pay homage to Honda, their engine supplier since 2019, as the Japanese company is leaving Formula 1 at the end of the season.
McLaren’s Lando Norris will start the Turkish GP in 7th place, one position ahead of Canadian Lance Stroll, who claimed his first career pole in the same circuit in 2020.
AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda and Stroll’s Aston Martin teammate Sebastian Vettel rounded up the top-10, respectively.
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Saturday started with rainy conditions in Istanbul Park in the FP3 led by Gasly but eventually allowed drivers to use slick tires for all of the qualifying session – even though the track still presented wet spots. The tricky conditions saw Verstappen and Leclerc spin in the Q1 and Q2, respectively.
“The track is absolutely awesome. The team did a really great job getting us out at the right time,” said Hamilton after the session. “We’ll see what we can do tomorrow (after the 10-place grid penalty) and hopefully give the fans an exciting race.”
Bottas’ P1 on Sunday will represent a chance for the Finn to claim his final Mercedes win. He’s still winless this season and is moving to Alfa Romeo for the 2022 season.
“Not easy conditions, especially Q1 it was a bit on the edge with the damp parts,” said Bottas. “Lewis (Hamilton) with his penalty, that’s the minimum penalty he can have, I’m on pole, so that should be good.”
Verstappen, who claimed eight pole positions in 2021 and 11 overall in his F1 career, said he didn’t have the pace to keep up with the Mercedes and add another one to his campaign.
“Conditions were tricky but overall the laps were quite good,” said Verstappen. “We didn’t have enough to fight for pole but I’m pretty happy. Let’s see how the weather is tomorrow and how competitive we can be.”
Schumacher makes Q2 for 1st time
Haas’ Mick Schumacher made it to the Q2 for the first time in his F1 career and will start the race in 14th. The rookie will start behind Esteban Ocon, 12th, and George Russell 13th.
Russell was looking like he would proceed to yet another Q3 but left the track in the third sector of his final Q2 attempt.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz didn’t bother taking part in the Q2 since he’d be starting from dead last anyway due to an engine-related grid penalty.
Daniel Ricciardo, who was knocked out in the Q1 by Sainz at the very last possible moment, inherited the Spaniard’s 15h place, with Canadian Nicholas Latifi following in 16th.
Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen took the two Alfa Romeos to 17th and 18th, respectively, after Sainz’s penalty. Rookie Nikita Mazepin will start Sunday’s race in the 19th position.
The Turkish Grand Prix at the Istanbul Park circuit is set for Sunday at 8 AM EST, 5 AM Pacific Time.
See the full qualifying results: