Hamilton fastest in qualifying but ICE change puts Bottas on pole from Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton will have to wait to achieve his first ‘official’ pole position at the Istanbul Park circuit despite setting the fastest lap in qualifying, an Internal Combustion Unit change meaning the champion will start from eleventh on the grid.

Instead, Mercedes and Hamilton have second prize, Valtteri Bottas starting from the front alongside Max Verstappen and attempting to keep the Dutchman behind him as the Englishman begins his charge through the field.

Next on the grid comes the impressive Charles Leclerc from Pierre Gasly, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez. Lando Norris, Lance Stroll, Yuki Tsunoda and Sebastian Vettel round out the top ten following Hamilton’s penalty.

“It was really tricky in general, the session because there were still some damp patches and getting the temperature in the tyres on the first lap wasn’t easy,” commented Hamilton after qualifying. “But yeah, really great job by the team so happy with the performance in terms of getting us out at the right time.

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

Hamilton’s fears have good grounds historically at this tricky Hermann Tilke designed circuit, five of the last seven pole sitters coming out victorious. And for the outgoing Bottas, helping Hamilton is of secondary priority to winning the race for himself.

“It was a good quali, not easy conditions especially Q1 which was a bit on the edge with the damp parts and still Q3 first corner was still a bit damp and also turns three and four. But also some good laps, the last lap I missed a bit in the last sector with some understeer but other than that the lap was really nice and as a team result, we’re really glad.

“Lewis with his penalty is P10 (11) but I’m on pole so it should be good. I will focus on my own race tomorrow and I think that’s the way to go when you start in front.”

For Verstappen, who charged from the back of the field to secure a brilliant second last time out in Sochi, this is a huge opportunity to retake the championship lead and put further distance between himself and his main title rival.

“At the beginning it was quite tricky with the conditions, but I think compared to yesterday we actually managed to turn it around quite well,” said Verstappen. “The laps overall I think were quite good even though the last lap lost a little bit down the straight and we have to look into that, but it wasn’t a lap to fight for pole.

“Overall it was quite a decent recovery compared to yesterday so third is the maximum today and tomorrow I’m lining up in second and we’ll see what the weather will do overnight but overall I’m happy.

“Let’s see how competitive we are going to be in the race and also tyre wear seems quite high around this track but at least now the track is a lot of fun to drive especially also the long left hander at Turn 8 but we’ll find out tomorrow.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.