Qualy: Hamilton fastest but starts P11, Bottas on pole
Lewis Hamilton qualified fastest for the Turkish Grand Prix, but a 10-place grid penalty will give Valtteri Bottas pole position.
It was the best possible scenario for the World Champion, whose penalty will see him drop down to P11 come the race start on Sunday, while Max Verstappen will line up alongside Bottas on the front row.
It was a frantic qualifying session in changing conditions in Turkey, and it sets up what will undoubtedly be an exciting race on Sunday.
Pretty much the entire grid queued up at the end of the pit lane, with a supposed 100% chance of rain allowing just one opportunity to get a flying lap in the dry under their belt.
This led to what could have been disaster for Hamilton, who jostled his way through the traffic, only to run wide of track limits at Turn 1 – adding extra pressure for him to get a lap right next time around, duly doing so a couple of minutes later.
Turn 1 proved costly for Verstappen too, who spun his Red Bull all the way around before getting back on track – and Carlos Sainz followed suit seconds afterwards.
But as the tyres warmed up, lap times began to look more representative as the entire field pounded round for lap after lap, as the rain was anticipated.
With that, drizzle started to hit the circuit in the final sector and the start/finish straight. With that, Yuki Tsunoda was another driver caught out at Turn 1, spinning off and going onto the grass, but he was able to get going again.
Rather than intensifying, Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase reported that the bad weather would dissipate in the final few minutes of Q1, allowing for times to improve.
Turkish Grand Prix qualifying…
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With that, the frantic action continued – as the drivers looked to better their previous benchmarks, and every driver was on track in the final moments of the session.
As a result, Ricciardo was the man in the wrong place at the wrong time as the track improved. He was one of the first over the line as the session ended, and he was nudged out in P16 in another disappointing moment for the McLaren driver.
Schumacher, on the other hand, caused jubilation in the Haas garage when he put in a barnstorming lap to go above Ricciardo – winner at Monza two races ago – to put himself through to Q2, and going almost three whole seconds faster than team-mate Nikita Mazepin in the process.
Q2 began in similar fashion, as the remaining drivers (bar Carlos Sainz, who will drop to the back of the grid through a power unit change), took to the track immediately.
Sergio Perez quickly became Turn 1’s latest victim as he spun his Red Bull around on the exit of the downhill left-hander, with a snap of oversteer.
While extremely quick in practice, Charles Leclerc appeared to struggle in Q2, spinning his Ferrari around on the exit of the final corner as he looked to get into the top 10 on medium tyres – mirroring the approach of most of the other drivers in the second part of qualifying, as the medium will be the preferred race tyre.
As the drivers wound up for their final flying runs, Lance Stroll botched his last attempt by locking up into Turn 1 and running off the track, but he got off lightly as Sebastian Vettel, Esteban Ocon and George Russell eventually dropped out alongside Schumacher and Sainz.
Out in front though, Hamilton looked in imperious form – going 0.497s clear of anyone else in Q2, with the World Championship leader needing as strong a performance as possible with his 10-place grid penalty looming over him.
After the first runs in Q3, however, Bottas nudged his way in front of his team-mate by only 0.022s, with Verstappen looming large in the mirrors of the Mercedes pair.
However, Hamilton went out earlier than his competitors as he geared up for two flying laps, and put himself back ahead of Bottas, but Verstappen could not improve enough to jump past the Finn – which would give the Mercedes driver pole, but the Red Bull will line up alongside him.
With the penalty hanging over him, this was the best possible result for the seven-time World Champion.
The second row will comprise of Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly, in a sterling afternoon for both drivers, ahead of Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez in what will become P5 and P6 respectively.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:22.868
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.130s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.328s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.397s
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 0.458s
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine 0.609s
7 Sergio Perez Red Bull 0.838s
8 Lando Norris McLaren 1.086s
9 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1.437s
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1.500s
11 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:24.795
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine 0.047s
13 George Russell Williams 0.212s
14 Mick Schumacher Haas 0.405s
15 Carlos Sainz Ferrari NO TIME SET
16 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:25.881
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams 0.205s
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 0.549s
19 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 0.944s
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas 2.568s
Shocks and surprises in chaotic Turkey GP qualifying
A frantic qualifying session took place at the Turkish Grand Prix, with some surprising results.