Lewis Hamilton sets track record to top Turkish GP qualifying but grid penalty hits hard

Lewis Hamilton will start 11th on the grid for the Turkish Grand Prix despite setting a track record in today’s qualifying session.

The defending F1 world champion clinched pole position after a blistering lap, but he has been handed a 10-place grid penalty following an engine change.

As a result, Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas will start on pole after taking second in qualifying, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start second despite crossing the line third fastest in qualifying.

Hamilton set a lap time of 1:22:868 which no other driver was able to match, but the 36-year-old will have to navigate his way through the field to catch his rivals in tomorrow’s race.

Lewis Hamilton will start 11th on the grid despite topping the qualifying charts Photo by Francisco Seco – Pool/Getty Images)

Mercedes opted to change their combustion engine ahead of this weekend, which was their fourth engine change this season.

Teams are only allotted three engine changes during a campaign and are penalised if a they choose to exceed this limit.

Following the end of qualifying, silver arrows chief Toto Wolff explained their reason to change the engine.

“We are not looking at stock-piling good engines and taking penalties for that. We have seen some gremlins over the course of the season so we would rather a good new engine. Probabilities always matter in life,” he said.

The Mercedes chief is also relishing another fight with Red Bull ahead of what is sure to be a fascinating race.

“It’s been seven years that we have been able to set the benchmark. This year it’s much tougher. We enjoy the fight. That is advantageous in that situation. We have two strong drivers and I’m looking forward to the next seven races. I’m looking forward to it, Wolff added.

“It’s sport, we’re not talking about politics. We have nothing at all to prove. We have set our records, we want to add to them because we’re ambitious.”

Hamilton has mixed feelings heading into tomorrow’s race, but is looking forward to the challenge.

“The track is absolutely awesome with the grip level it’s giving us now,” the seven-time world champion explained to Paul di Resta.

Hamilton set a track record at Istanbul Park, but will have to fight his way through the field at the Turkish GP tomorrow
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AFP via Getty Images)

“There were still some damp patches and getting the tyres into temperature wasn’t easy. Tomorrow is going to be difficult but I’ll give it everything.

“It’s going to be difficult to move up. Hopefully we can give the fans a good race.”

Elsewhere on the grid, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc qualified fourth but will start the race in third place, while AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly continued his impressive qualifying record by crossing the line fifth, but will start fourth due to Hamilton’s grid penalty.

McLaren’s pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris have enjoyed recent success but were off the pace today as the 21-year-old finished seventh, while the Australian failed to make it out of the first session and will begin tomorrow’s Grand Prix in 16th.

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