Lewis Hamilton was fastest in qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix, although the world champion will not start from pole position because he has a grid penalty for taking on a new engine. His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who was second, will be on pole with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at his side. Hamilton has a 10-place penalty, so he will start from eleventh. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was in fourth place, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in fifth.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team was concerned about the potential reliability of the engine to last the remaining seven races and chose to install the new engine, the fourth, one more than the regulations allow, on a track where they hope their championship leader will be able to. overcome the field and minimize the potential loss of points against his rival for the title, Verstappen.
The British have every chance to do it. He has been clearly fast here all weekend, at the top in the first two practice sessions, and in 2006, in a GP2 race here, he came back from a spin that left him in 19th place to claim second place.
In the final round in Russia, Verstappen successfully minimized the damage from installing a new power unit by clinching second place after being last on the grid, and Hamilton took a slight lead of just two points. Red Bull, which led the constructors’ championship earlier in the season, is 33 points behind Mercedes.
With the Hamilton-Verstappen fight so tight, Bottas is expected to play a team game to make sure it is the world champion who secures as many points as possible. Team orders may well be employed in case they are needed, but the Finn’s main role is to make sure he stays at the helm of Verstappen.
Pole is a boost for Bottas, who will be replaced at Mercedes by George Russell of Williams next season. It is his first pole since the third race of the season, in Portimão, and the 18th of his career. He hasn’t won in Turkey before, but Hamilton did take victory here to claim his seventh title last year.
On a cold but dry track, after a wet morning in Istanbul, Bottas set the pace on his first fastest lap in Q3. Last season, the newly repaved track lacked grip; this year, having aged and water-jet polished, it got a lot better, but with the surface still wet it remained testing. Particularly strong in the first and third sectors, Bottas set a score with a time of 1min 23.071sec, two hundredths ahead of Hamilton.
In his second race, the pressure increased, with the sun shining and conditions in the best they had been all day. Hamilton left early with the track all to himself and immediately flew off. The fastest in the three sectors set a time of 1.22.868. He was on provisional pole, but ran one lap before doing a second race on the same tires. It wasn’t necessary, as no one could match the first time you hooked it up perfectly. Bottas was a tenth of a second behind, with Verstappen three tenths down.
Earlier, with the track still wet from heavy rains earlier in the day, conditions were tough when the session opened, with several riders spinning laps and times eliminated for running wide. However, the threat of rain did not materialize during the first quarter and times began to drop rapidly as the runway dried. Hamilton was fastest in Q1 just seven thousandths above Verstappen and once again on top in Q2.
Fernando Alonso was sixth for Alpine, Sergio Pérez of Red Bull in seventh and Lando Norris was eighth for McLaren. Lance Stroll was ninth for Aston Martin and Yuki Tsunoda was tenth for AlphaTauri.
Carlos Sainz was 15th with Ferrari, but the team did not race it competitively in Q2 as he will start from the back of the grid having taken on a completely new power unit. Mick Schumacher put in an excellent performance to reach Q2 and finished 14th for Haas. Sebastian Vettel was 11th for Aston Martin, Esteban Ocon 12th for Alpine and Russell 13th for Williams.
Daniel Ricciardo was a disappointing 15th for McLaren. Nicholas Latifi was 17 for Williams. Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen were 18th and 19th for Alfa Romeo, with Nikita Mazepin 20th for Haas.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism