Lewis Hamilton tops qualifying but will start 11th, with Valtteri Bottas on pole to ensure best-case scenario result for Mercedes; Max Verstappen third in shootout but starts on front row, with Charles Leclerc third for Ferrari ahead of Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 09/10/21 8:26pm
An on-form Lewis Hamilton topped qualifying for the Turkish GP but it is team-mate Valtteri Bottas who will start on pole due to the championship leader’s grid penalty, with Max Verstappen moved up to the front row.
In a best-case scenario result for Mercedes after Hamilton’s 10-place grid drop for a new engine, the Englishman dominated the shootout and will start Sunday’s race 11th, while Bottas beat his title rival Verstappen.
Hamilton was fastest in a wet-dry Q1 and Q2 before setting a new Istanbul Park track record in Q3 – but Bottas finished just a tenth of a second off that 1:22.868 to assume pole position.
He will start on the front row ahead of Verstappen, who finished third and showed signs of improvement in a slower-than-expected Red Bull but was still 0.3s off Hamilton, the man he trails by two points in the championship.
Charles Leclerc secured a brilliant fourth in qualifying and third on the grid for Ferrari, pipping the similarly sublime Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso on his final lap.
Sergio Perez was only seventh in the other Red Bull, ahead of Lando Norris as McLaren struggled to replicate their form from Monza and Sochi.
Daniel Ricciardo suffered a shock exit in Q1, which saw track conditions improve from wet to almost completely dry by the end of the segment. And that wasn’t the only surprise from qualifying.
Mick Schumacher made it through to Q2 for just the second time in his F1 career in the Haas, finishing 14th in the end as he was caught out by Lance Stroll’s spin on the final laps.
That error from Stroll also affected Esteban Ocon (12th). Ocon will start Sunday’s race ahead of George Russell, who looked likely to advance to the final shootout before making a mistake of his own at the last corner.
Turkish GP Qualifying Result, top 10
1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes*
2) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
4) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
5) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
6) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
7) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
8) Lando Norris, McLaren
9) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
10) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
*has 10-place grid penalty for new ICE
What’s possible for Hamilton from 11th? And why is Verstappen so down?
The words ‘damage limitation’ have been common in F1 in recent weeks. Verstappen said it often at the Russian GP – as he recovered from his back-of-the-grid engine penalty to finish second behind Hamilton – and this weekend it’s been Hamilton’s turn to talk about limiting the loss of a grid penalty.
On Saturday, Hamilton made a great start to that goal with a superb display.
Second place, like Verstappen’s two weeks ago, in the race would surely be a great result for Hamilton in the circumstances – although he insists he’s gunning for the victory.
“My eyes are still solely set on winning the race,” said Hamilton. “It’s going to be very hard from 11th, but not impossible.
“I don’t know what the weather’s going to do tomorrow so I’m just staying on my toes and just making sure that we deliver maximum attack.”
He looks to have a very capable ally in his title fight against Verstappen in the shape of Bottas, who has been faster than the lead Red Bull all weekend and looks likely to have the pace to fend him off in the race.
Verstappen cut a pessimistic figure after qualifying.
“The main problem I have is I’m starting second on the inside, and there’s very low grip in the dry and the wet, compared to the outside so I’ll probably already lose out there,” he said/ “So that’s not going to be ideal. And, of course, overall we are lacking pace compared to them so I expect it to be quite difficult to fight them tomorrow.
“Of course, Lewis will have a bit of a harder job coming to the front but I think it will be still quite difficult to to keep them behind us, the pace they showed in qualifying that also in their long runs.
We’ll try everything we can, of course, but we also need to stay realistic and I don’t think there’s a lot you can force or change, but let’s see tomorrow how difficult it is to pass, because we don’t really have a real indication.”
The race starts at 1pm, live only on Sky Sports F1, with build-up from 11.30am.
Turkish GP Qualifying Timesheet
|1) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:22.868 (has 10-place grid penalty)|
|2) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+0.130|
|3) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+0.328|
|4) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+0.397|
|5) Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+0.458|
|6) Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+0.609|
|7) Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+0.838|
|8) Lando Norris||McLaren||+1.086|
|9) Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+1.437|
|10) Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+1.500|
|Out in Q2|
|11) Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1:24.795|
|12) Esteban Ocon||Alpine||1:24.842|
|13) George Russell||Williams||1:25.007|
|14) Mick Schumacher||Haas||1:25.200|
|15) Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||No time set (engine penalty)|
|Out in Q1|
|16) Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||1:25.881|
|17) Nicholas Latifi||Williams||1:26.086|
|18) Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:26.430|
|19) Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:27.525|
|20) Nikita Mazepin||Haas||1:28.449|