Lewis Hamilton says he is only thinking about winning the Turkish Grand Prix despite having to start from 11th due to a grid penalty.
Mercedes opted to take a fourth internal combustion engine (ICE) for Hamilton this weekend, resulting in a drop of 10 places on the grid. The championship leader duly set the fastest time in qualifying to secure the highest possible starting spot of 11th, and despite his teammate Valtteri Bottas starting from pole and Max Verstappen second, Hamilton is focused on victory given his Friday race pace, having similarly won from sixth in Turkey a year ago.
“I was already third at Turn 1 last year so that made a bit of a difference, but it’s a much, much different weekend,” Hamilton said. “Different track grip, we’re faced with different circumstances this weekend, so I don’t know. My eyes are still solely set on winning the race. It’s going to be very hard from 11th but not impossible.
“I don’t know what the weather is going to do tomorrow, so I’m just staying on my toes and making sure that we deliver maximum attack tomorrow.”
While aiming for the win, Hamilton is wary of the challenge that faces him in terms of trying to climb through the field and thinks some wet weather would make his life easier.
“The car was really good in race trim — we had quite good balance. I think the track is very aggressive on tires so it’ll be interesting to see how it works for everyone tire wise. But getting past people is not going to be easy. You saw in the last race how difficult it was in the DRS train and no doubt it’ll be something similar tomorrow.
“It’s a long race, hope there’s some rain that comes along — was actually surprising how fast the track is on wet tires, probably faster than any other track we’ve been to in the wet; interesting to see how it plays out tomorrow.”
Hamilton believes Mercedes’ strong performance so far in Turkey has been the result of its preparation working well for a track that has proven very different compared to 2020.
“It was a really great session. In general the team have performed incredibly well this weekend — very, very precise with timings, the guys in the garage as always continuing to be precise, everyone back at the factory pushing and maximizing everything out of the car.
“The car’s felt good since we arrived this weekend and we’ve made small adjustments to the setup. As the track dried up it was getting better and better — I think these guys were getting closer towards the end but really happy with the end result.”