Motor racing: Bottas on pole in Turkey after Hamilton tops qualifying but takes penalty

 Mercedes' driver Valtteri Bottas waits in his car at the Intercity Istanbul Park in Istanbul on Oct 9, 2021.
Mercedes' driver Valtteri Bottas waits in his car at the Intercity Istanbul Park in Istanbul on Oct 9, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

ISTANBUL (REUTERS, AFP) - Formula One world championship leader Lewis Hamilton was fastest in qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix on Saturday (Oct 9) but will start 11th due to a grid penalty, with Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in pole position.

The British seven-time F1 champion's title rival Max Verstappen qualified third for Red Bull and will join Bottas on the front row at Istanbul Park on Sunday.

Hamilton, who leads the Dutchman by two points (244.5 points), set a new lap record three times in qualifying but his team incurred a 10-place grid penalty by changing his engine ahead of the race.

After smashing the 16-year-old track record in practice on Friday, the 36-year-old broke it again in each of the three qualifying sessions.

He finished the session in 1min 22.868sec, 0.130 of a second ahead of Bottas, with Verstappen 0.328sec back.

But he has vowed "maximum attack" and would not rule out winning the race, which he took in 2010 and 2020.

“I was third already at turn one last year so that made a bit of a difference,” said Hamilton, now chasing a record eighth drivers' title.

“It’s a much different weekend, a much different track grip, so we’re faced with different circumstances this weekend,” he added.

“My eyes are still solely set on winning the race. It’s going to be very hard, from 11th, but not impossible ... so just staying on my toes and making sure that we deliver maximum attack tomorrow.”

Frenchmen Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari, and Pierre Gasly in an Alpha Tauri will start on the second row.

Veteran Spaniard Fernando Alonso and Mexican Sergio Perez of Red Bull occupy the next two places.

Some drivers starting ahead of Hamilton admitted they will be looking over their shoulders.

“He’ll be passed me in a couple of laps,” said Lando Norris, who will start seventh in his McLaren.

Gasly said he’d try to make his Alpha Tauri as wide as possible.

“It’s pretty much what I try every race,” adding that he held off Bottas for 30 laps in Sochi.

“We know Lewis is going to come from the back tomorrow,” he said.