Formula One: Lewis Hamilton makes light of qualifying flop

Hamilton (above) qualified only sixth for a race likely to crown him world champion for a record-equalling seventh time. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISTANBUL (AFP) - Lewis Hamilton made light of his and Mercedes first qualifying flop of the year on Saturday (Nov 14) after they had been upstaged by Racing Point's Lance Stroll at the Turkish Grand Prix.

The defending six-time champion, who bids to seal a record-breaking seventh drivers' championship in Sunday's race, was sixth in qualifying, but three places ahead of his "black arrows" team-mate Valtteri Bottas in ninth place.

The Finn is the only driver who can stop him taking the title again, if he can outscore him by eight points or more, but he like Hamilton struggled in treacherous rainswept and low-grip conditions.

"There isn't any grip at all," said Hamilton.

"I don't really know what to say. We did the best we could and that was the fastest we could go.

"The track feels terrible. It feels like driving on ice. For whatever reason, some people can get their tyres going, but ultimately, we're all struggling out there.

"I did the best I could and I didn't really make any mistakes so I'm generally happy. I did everything I could with what I had."

Asked by Sky Sports F1 if he was disappointed by his pace and form, after the prolonged red flag-interrupted session, Hamilton retorted: "Have you not been watching all weekend? I was 20th before this so this is an improvement."

His tone was light and genial, betraying relief that he had qualified in the top ten with a good chance of claiming a podium finish, at least, ahead of Bottas to take his seventh title.

Stroll's success in gaining his first pole and Canada's first since Jacques Villeneuve at the 1997 European Grand Prix on his way to winning the title had ended Mercedes run of 13 consecutive pole positions this season.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.