Lewis Hamilton continued to set the pace in qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix after beating his teammate Valtteri Bottas by a tenth and three hundredths. However the seven-time champion will start tenth because of a penalty for changing components on his power unit.
Hamilton has looked on the pace throughout the weekend, however the gap to Red Bull remains tight as championship rival Max Verstappen was three tenths behind in third. The question will be how far the Englishman can come through the midfield and try and limit the damage to Verstappen in the driver’s championship.
Hamilton took a different approach to Q3, leaving his garage on a new set of softs with over five minutes of Q3 remaining. He found time on his second flier to move ahead of Bottas on a 22.868, with the session’s best times in the second and third sectors. Hamilton was also fastest in all three sessions, topping Q1, Q2 and Q3.
But then regained the top spot with a second run on the same tyres while Bottas and Verstappen didn’t manage a third run. The Dutchman admitting after the session that Red Bull did not have the pace to challenge Mercedes, but the lap times were good though Verstappen didn’t show the improvement needed to challenge for pole.
Bottas looked fast on his final lap, but it fell away through the final three corners, but Verstappen losing the biggest amount of time on his second run in the third sector.
Hamilton said, “The session was really tricky. There were still some damp patches and getting temperature in the tyres for the first lap wasn’t easy. Great performance from them getting us out at the right time.”
Bottas told reporters, “The last lap I missed a bit in the last sector and started to pick up some understeer. Lewis is in the best place and I am on pole. I will focus on my own race tomorrow. Try to keep up a good pace.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was fourth seven hundredths behind Verstappen, while his teammate Carlos Sainz played no further part in qualifying after Q1 with a full power unit change means he starts at the back of the grid.
Leclerc only just made it through to the final part of qualifying after improving at the end of Q2, to push his former teammate Sebastian Vettel out. He had looked under pressure in the closing moments of Q3 from Pierre Gasly for fourth.
However, the Alpha Tauri appeared to lose time in the final sector leaving him six hundredths behind the Ferrari. Fernando Alonso put his Alpine sixth ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
Alonso has been placed under investigation for ignoring yellow flags during Q1.
Red Bull were looking to take advantage of Hamilton’s penalty by getting Perez to start near Verstappen, he will need to try and pass several cars to try and stop Mercedes limiting the damage.
Qualifying proved tricky for all the drivers as rain overnight and a wet FP3, saw drivers challenged to the limit. Although there were no red flags, drivers were still making mistakes on the mediums and softs that resulted in several spins.
Lando Norris put his McLaren eighth going four-tenths faster than Lance Stroll, the Aston Martin driver did make a late mistake at the end of Q2 which could have cost him a place in Q3. Yuki Tsunoda completing the top ten, the Alpha Tauri driver getting through to Q3 after showing decent pace.
McLaren off the back of two strong results in Monza and Sochi have appeared to struggle to find the same race winning form. Daniel Ricciardo being a surprise casualty in Q1, as conditions improved he was shuffled down the order and knocked out by Mick Schumacher.
Tsunoda and Hamilton the only drivers to use the soft tyres to get through to Q3, with the rest starting on the mediums.
Sebastian Vettel missed out on the top ten when he was pushed out by Leclerc, and he was six hundredths faster than the Alpine of Esteban Ocon. George Russell was thirteenth, however, the Williams driver had looked as he could have made it through to Q3 once again.
He had set two personal bests in the first two sectors and was up on the cut time, however, he had two slides in the last sector causing him to go wide at the final corner and then backed out of the lap. That leaves Russell thirteenth ahead of Schumacher.
Schumacher got Haas through to Q2 for the first time in his career, going fourteenth. The German arguably gaining because of a mistake by Ricciardo, who was shuffled down the order and missed out by just under a tenth.
Nicolas Latifi also looked to have the pace to get out of Q1, but the Williams driver made the same mistake as Ricciardo. Latifi looking earlier in the session to be a serious contender for Q2 and even Q3, but was left two tenths behind Ricciardo at the end of the session.
Antonio Giovinazzi was eighteenth after going over a second faster than his Alfa Romeo teammate Kimi Raikkonen. The Fin could not improve on his final lap, but hung on to nineteenth as while Nikita Mazepin improved it was not enough to move up the grid.