Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap of Qualifying for the 2021 FIA Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix, but it’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas who will claim pole position for the race after Hamilton takes a 10-place grid penalty for taking a fourth ICE of the year. Hamilton’s chief title rival Max Verstappen will start alongside Bottas on the front row after qualifying third.
Ahead of Q1 the weather forecast predicted rain early in the opening session and desperate to bank an early dry tyre time, drivers formed a long queue at the pit exit in the final minutes before the green lights started the session.
The expected rain began to fall close to five minutes into the session but never with the steadiness predicted and as a result the 18-minute proved to be frantic as drivers pushed to get the best from their soft tyres, balancing extended running in case of running with tyre wear and the risk of pitting for new rubber.
In the end it was Hamilton who topped the opening session, with the Briton beating Verstappen who required a late flyer to climb from P12 to P2 thanks to a lap of 1:24.592. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took third place ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Pérez and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
In the crucial final moments it was Daniel Ricciardo who lost out. The McLaren driver looked less than comfortable in the session but appeared to be safe when the chequered flag was flown. However, despite a guaranteed back of the grid start due to PU penalties, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz put in a full session, completing 12 laps, and his final flyer bounced Ricciardo out of the session in P16 along with Nicholas Latifi of Williams, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen and Haas’ Nikita Mazepin.
In the second segment, the bulk of the field opted for medium tyres, looking to start the race on that compound. Hamilton was again to the fore with the Mercedes driver posting a best time of 1:23.082. Bottas again took second place, almost half a second behind his team-mate, while Verstappen was again third with a lap of 1:23.732. Gasly continued to impress with fourth place ahead of Leclerc, while Alpine’s Fernando Alonso also caught the eye with fifth place.
Eliminated at the end of the middle segment were Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Williams’ George Russell, Haas’ Mick Schumacher and Sainz who completed just a single out lap in Q2.
In the first runs of Q3, Hamilton was first on track, a full five minutes before the end of the session, with the Briton targeting multiple flying laps as he sought to minimise the damage caused by his impending penalty.
He found most time on his second flier to take P1 with a time of 1m22.868. Bottas was 0.005s ahead of Hamilton by the end of the second sector, but he lost time in the final third and wound up 0.13s behind his team-mate. Verstappen also lost time in the final corners and finished 0.328s down on Hamilton’s benchmark time.
Leclerc delievered a fine final flyer to rise to fourth place a little over five hundredths of a second ahead of Gasly. Alonso continued his good form with sixth place ahead of Perez. Eighth place in qualifying went to McLaren’s Lando Norris with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll ninth ahead of the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda.
2021 FIA Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:22.868 8 231.896
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:22.998 0.130 0.157 6 231.533
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:23.196 0.328 0.396 6 230.982
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:23.265 0.397 0.479 8 230.790
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:23.326 0.458 0.553 6 230.621
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:23.477 0.609 0.735 6 230.204
7 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 1:23.706 0.838 1.011 6 229.574
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:23.954 1.086 1.311 6 228.896
9 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:24.305 1.437 1.734 6 227.943
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 1:24.368 1.500 1.810 6 227.773
11 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:24.795 1.713 2.062 9 226.626
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:24.842 1.760 2.118 8 226.501
13 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:25.007 1.925 2.317 8 226.061
14 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:25.200 2.118 2.549 8 225.549
15 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1
16 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:25.881 1.296 1.532 10 223.760
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:26.086 1.501 1.775 10 223.227
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:26.430 1.845 2.181 11 222.339
19 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:27.525 2.940 3.476 11 219.557
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 1:28.449 3.864 4.568 10 217.264