Hamilton’s first challenge is ‘staying out of trouble’
Starting the Turkish Grand Prix from 11th on the grid, Lewis Hamilton’s first job of the day is “staying out of trouble” on the opening lap.
Although Hamilton was fastest in Saturday’s qualifying at Istanbul Park, a tenth up on his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, the championship leader has a 10-place grid penalty for taking on a new ICE.
It is his fourth of the season, exceeding his allocation and therefore meant an automatic grid penalty.
Hamilton did what he could on Saturday to minimise the penalty, but starting 11th on the grid means he’ll be in the thick of the midfield chaos – and that is often where the opening lap drama plays out.
“Staying out of trouble and trying to be aggressive from the beginning,” he told Sky Italia of his objectives for Sunday’s race.
Another super Saturday from @LewisHamilton as he finishes quickest in qualifying 🚀
The reigning champion faces a 10-place grid penalty on Sunday, handing pole to his teammate @ValtteriBottas #TurkishGP 🇹🇷 #F1 pic.twitter.com/oFGpWFrDlK
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 9, 2021
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As for his chances of doing what his title rival Max Verstappen did in Sochi and overcoming his penalty to finish on the podium, Hamilton fears that won’t be easy this weekend.
“I think it’s never easy to recover,” said the Mercedes driver. “If we look at the last race, you get stuck behind some cars that are not easy to overtake.
“But we have a good pace this weekend, which we did not expect to have so I hope I can make the most out of it.”
Hamilton will line up on the Istanbul Park grid two points ahead of Verstappen in the title race, but nine grid places behind the Red Bull driver.
While Hamilton is lining up 11th, his team-mate Valtteri Bottas will be starting from pole position.
That means Hamilton can potentially rely on his team-mate to hold up Verstappen as he tries to work his way back up towards the Dutchman.
Bottas concedes Verstappen will be his main focus, but he reckons the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc could also pose a threat as he starts P3 on the grid.
“For sure Max, that will start next to me,” he said when asked who would be his main rival in Turkey.
“Also Ferrari were very fast on the race pace. So I would say Max and then Charles.
“For sure sooner or later Lewis will get close and will try to recover as much as he can. But I have to focus on my race.”
Additional reporting from Luca Brambilla
Step one complete for Lewis Hamilton in Turkey
With a penalty coming, Lewis Hamilton knew he needed to qualify fastest in Turkey - and he did so.