Hamilton limits the damage in qualifying, Bottas on pole position in Turkey

09-10-2021 14:00
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Hamilton limits the damage in qualifying, Bottas on pole position in Turkey

Lewis Hamilton has limited the damage as much as possible by recording the fastest time in qualifying on Saturday afternoon in Turkey. The British driver will start the race from 11th place because of the 10-place grid penalty he incurred when Mercedes added the fourth ICE to his car. Therefore Valtteri Bottas qualifies on pole position and for Mercedes, is crucially ahead of Max Verstappen who rounds out the top three. 

Bottas starts on pole position for the 18th time in his career and for the second time in the 2021 season after managing the feat in Portugal.

Ahead of the first free practice session, Mercedes confirmed they installed a fourth internal combustion engine (ICE) to Hamilton's car. Each driver is allowed to use three ICEs throughout the 2021 season, and any additional ICEs result in ten-place grid penalties. Friday running was completed in dry conditions, whilst FP3 on Saturday morning was completed on a wet circuit. 

When F1 arrived in the paddock for the 2020 edition of the Turkish Grand Prix, the track had an extremely low grip level. Over the last 11 months, Istanbul Park has been washed vigorously and is now one of the grippiest tracks on the calendar. Though patches of rain made it difficult for qualifying in 2021. 

By the time Q3 started, most of the track was dry. Bottas put it on provisional pole with his Mercedes teammate just 0.022 seconds behind. Verstappen had 0.227 seconds to find. Hamilton went out on the circuit alone with five minutes remaining. He went purple in sectors one and two, but yellow in the third and final sector as traffic played a little role and the tyres reduced in performance ability. The top three order didn't change in the second part of Q3.  

Q1 

The session started with a dry racing line and wet patches. With the rain forecast imminently, drivers formed a queue at the pitlane to get a lap completed under the best conditions. With cold temperatures, many drivers struggled. Hamilton had a small moment at turn one, whilst Verstappen spun 360 degrees. The second time around, the two title rivals made it around without issue and took the top two places. 

The rain held off and lap times continued to fall with the track conditions improving. This produced a changeable leaderboard, and at one point six different constructors found themselves in the top six places. With five minutes remaining, the two Alfa Romeo cars were joined by Lance Stroll, Yuki Tsunoda and Nikita Mazepin in the drop zone. 

Stroll and Tsunoda managed to escape and were replaced by Daniel Ricciardo and Nicholas Latifi. The McLaren driver didn't get his timing right with an improving track. In contrast, Mick Schumacher timed it to perfect and the German was quick enough to reach Q2. 

Out - 16th Ricciardo, 17th Latifi, 18th Giovinazzi, 19th Raikkonen, 20th Mazepin 

Q2

Red Bull and Mercedes emerged from the pits with the medium compound tyres. With the track being abrasive, the yellow marked tyre is the best to start on for the Turkish Grand Prix. Perez had a major spin on his first push lap which ruined his set of tyres. He was pretty lucky to avoid the barrier. 

After the first run, Schumacher was joined by the two Aston Martin's and George Russell in the drop zone. Carlos Sainz opted not to run in Q2 because he will start from the back anyway after Ferrari needed to apply a new power unit to his car. His teammate Leclerc was on a strong lap but spun at the last corner. Similar to Lecler, Russell pushed for Q3 but made a mistake in the final corner. 

Leclerc escaped the drop zone, as Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon fell the wrong side of the elimination mark. Hamilton sat at the top, half-a-second quicker than Verstappen. 

Out - 11th Vettel, 12th Ocon, 13th Russell, 14th Schumacher, 15th - Sainz

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