Berlin: World champion Lewis Hamilton topped qualifying for the Turkish Formula One Grand Prix but a grid penalty means that Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas will have pole position on Sunday.
Hamilton clocked 1 minute 22.868 seconds on a damp 5.338-kilometre Istanbul Park circuit on Saturday to beat Bottas by more than one-tenth and his main title rival Max Verstappen of Red Bull by three-tenth.
The outcome is the best possible scenario for Mercedes and Hamilton,who will have to start from 11th owing to a 10-place grid penalty for introducing a fourth internal combustion engine of the season, one more than the permitted three.
Bidding for a record eighth world title, Hamilton holds a slender two-point lead in the championship over Verstappen, who will start alongside Bottas in the first row.
Having won from sixth on the grid last year, Hamilton will hope to limit the damage by moving up the field quickly — just as Verstappen did two weeks ago in Russia when he started from the last row after a full power unit change but finished second behind Hamilton.
Overtaking is possible on the Istanbul circuit and there is also a threat of rain which in Russia helped Hamilton and Verstappen.
“The session was really tricky with some damp patches, but it was a really great job by the team,” Hamilton said.
“Tomorrow’s going to be difficult, but I’ll give it everything. It’s not the easiest overtaking at the moment, and we’re all on the same tyre, so I imagine tomorrow’s going to be difficult to move up.”
Bottas said he would concentrate on his own race but Mercedes will hope he can hold up Verstappen a little bit, even though Red Bull appeared strong on Saturday after some initial problems on Friday.
“It’s quite a decent recovery compared to yesterday,” Verstappen said.
“Tomorrow, lining up in second, let’s wait and see what the weather will do, but overall I’m pretty happy. Let’s see how competitive we will be in the race.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, who led a wet final practice earlier in the day, will start from the second row.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was a shock elimination in Q1 which saw some early drizzle before conditions turned dry, and Carlos Sainz will start from the back of the grid in the other Ferrari owing to a grid penalty.
Haas driver Mick Schumacher delighted in competing in Q2 for the first time and a career-best 14th-place finish. he also made Q2 in France but couldn’t compete owing to a crash.
“I really enjoyed it. I am very happy. We made all the right decisions,” the German told Sky TV. — dpa