Lewis Hamilton beat teammate Valtteri Bottas to the fastest time of qualifying at the Turkish Grand Prix, although a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change will promote the Finn to pole position for the race.
Max Verstappen will start alongside Bottas on the front row after finishing the afternoon third.
Mercedes’s superiority at Istanbul Park has been clear from first practice on Friday, and even the jeopardy of a sprinkling of rain at the start of qualifying did little to dampen Hamilton’s position as the favorite for the session.
Bottas threatened to turn that advantage to his advantage after the first runs of the pole shootout, heading Hamilton by 0.022s, but the championship leader found more than 0.2s with his second attempt while the Finn would less than half as much.
They switched at the top of the time sheet, and though Bottas took pole regardless, Hamilton minimized the penalty damage by confirming himself in 11th place on the grid.
Hamilton has known since Friday that he would drop 10 places for a change to his internal combustion engine, newly installed to address reliability concerns, but the Briton said he expected a difficult fight to score significant points despite the preparation time.
“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 tire 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.”
Another super Saturday from @LewisHamilton as he finishes quickest in qualifying 🚀
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 9, 2021
Bottas is the beneficiary by assuming pole position, and the Finn said he was aiming to take his first victory of the season with seven races to run in his Mercedes career.
“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.”
Verstappen will be promoted from third to second, and the Dutchman sounded more optimistic about his prospects after a dispiriting Friday off the pace.
“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 line up third and fourth after Hamilton’s penalty, with Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez following, the Mexican 0.8s off the pace and half a second slower than teammate Verstappen.
Lando Norris will start seventh, with Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda behind him, the Japanese driver the only in the top 10 who will start on the grain-prone soft tire rather than the more robust medium compound.
Sebastian Vettel qualified 11th, the German knocked out late in Q2 by Leclerc after Ferrari sent Carlos Sainz — consigned to the back of the grid anyway due to a power unit change — out specifically to generate a slipstream for the Monegasque.
Esteban Ocon was 12th for Alpine ahead of George Russell, who came close to putting his Williams into Q3 until a moment of oversteer in the final corner.
Mick Schumacher was superb to qualify his Haas 14th, having been three seconds quicker than teammate Nikita Mazepin in the slippery first qualifying segment to progress into Q2 for the second time this season.
Sainz qualified 15th but will start last, promoting Daniel Ricciardo to 15th. It will be small consolation to the Australian, however, who was knocked out in Q1 by the Spaniard in a shrewd strategic move by Ferrari in the team’s battle with McLaren for third in the standings.
Nicholas Latifi qualified 17th ahead of Alfa Romeo teammates Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen, while Nikita Mazepin was a distant last in the session.