Bottas takes Turkish pole from penalised Hamilton

Valtteri Bottas will start from pole position for the Turkish Grand Prix after qualifying-topping teammate Lewis Hamilton was slapped with a penalty for an engine change.

This article originally appeared in The Phuket News.

Max Verstappen, second in the championship just two points behind Hamilton, will line up second on the grid.

The fight for top spot in the grid-setting session was an all-Mercedes affair, the German marque having dominated the weekend from Friday morning, but reliability concerns forced the team to make an engine component change to Hamilton’s car to try to ensure he can make it to the end of the season without a potentially devastating failure.

The new internal combustion engine locked him into a 10-place grid drop, and beating his teammate to top spot in qualifying limited the damage, dropping him to 11th.

The team has had all weekend to set up his car for overtaking, but strategy is unclear given the abrasive circuit and uncertain weather forecast, and the Briton tempered expectations of a rapid recovery.

“Tomorrow’s going to be difficult, but I’ll give it everything,” Hamilton said. “It’s not the easiest, overtaking at the moment, and we’re all on the same tyre as well, so I imagine tomorrow it’s going to be difficult to move up.

“We’ll see what we can do. Hopefully we can give the fans here a good race.”

Inheriting his second pole of the season, Valtteri Bottas is eyeing his first victory of 2021.

“I’m on pole, so that should be good,” he said. “I’ll focus on my own race tomorrow. That’s the way to go when you’re starting in front.”

But Verstappen will start alongside him on the front row as his chief threat, and Red Bull Racing is feeling more confident about its chances after improving its car from a dire Friday base.

“Compared to yesterday we actually managed to turn it around quite well,” he said. “Third of course is the maximum today.

“Tomorrow lining up in second … let’s wait and see what the weather will do overnight. Overall I’m pretty happy.”

Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly will start third and fourth, with Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez following in fifth and sixth.

Lando Norris is promoted to seventh for McLaren ahead of Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda.

Sebastian Vettel qualified 11th but will start 10th as the last driver to gain a place from the penalised Hamilton.

Esteban Ocon will start 12th for Alpine ahead of Williams driver George Russell, while Mick Schumacher made his second Q2 appearance of the year for Haas, the young German excelling in the slippery conditions.

Carlos Sainz was knocked out 15th but will start at the back of the grid with a power unit penalty, having changed engines on Friday. But Ferrari sent him out in Q1 regardless in a cheeky tactical play that ultimately locked McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo into a lowly 16th place, potentially important in the two teams’ battle for third in the standings.

Nicholas Latifi was knocked out 17th for Williams ahead of Alfa Romeo duo Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen, while Nikita Mazepin was knocked out last.