Lando Norris reveals the advice Lewis Hamilton gave him
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Max Verstappen will start second on the grid for Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix as he bids to retake the overall championship lead back off Lewis Hamilton. The Red Bull driver has a golden opportunity to steal a march on his title rival with Hamilton starting back in 11th, after Mercedes opted to change a single component of his engine on Friday.
It was his fourth engine alteration of the season and meant that despite the seven-time world champion finishing on top in qualifying, he had to take the standard 10 place grid penalty and will have serious work to do in order to finish ahead of Verstappen. Mercedes teammate Valterri Bottas will now be on pole.
The Dutch driver himself will be satisfied to be starting second at the Intercity Istanbul Park Circuit, after being off the pace in free practice and spinning in Q1 as the wet weather played havoc.
However, the 24-year-old knows better than to discount the threat of Hamilton, especially given his own formidable display from the back of grid in Russia two weeks ago.
Verstappen had to work through the field after Red Bull implemented their fourth engine change of 2021, and eventually finished second with team boss Christian Horner later describing it as “being like a victory”.
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Hamilton winning the race still meant he edged two points ahead of Verstappen in the standings though, and with Mercedes quicker than Red Bull thus far this weekend, the young star was cautious when asked about his race prospects – and start position.
“I am of course happy with third and starting on the front row tomorrow. We improved a little bit from yesterday and the balance is a bit better but overall this weekend has been a bit more difficult,” he told reporters.
“I hope for a clean getaway tomorrow but starting on the inside will be tricky, as there is very low grip in both dry and wet conditions compared to the outside, so we are expecting to lose out there slightly.
“We also need to consider the gap behind us, it’s much tighter than usual. We’ll aim to make the best of it and try everything we can tomorrow to keep the Mercedes behind but it’s not going to be easy, they’ve had great pace all weekend.”
Lewis Hamilton admits ‘difficult’ challenge at Turkish GP with fastest qualifying time
Valtteri Bottas on Mercedes’ strong Turkish GP qualifying as Lewis Hamilton limits damage
Max Verstappen sceptical despite being handed Lewis Hamilton advantage at Turkish GP
Like in Sochi, adverse weather is also forecast for the race, which could help Hamilton’s cause as he attempts to keep potential damage to his bid to win a record-breaking eighth world title to a minimum.
Were he get to close to Verstappen tomorrow it would likely set nerves jangling in both team camps, with the pair’s title race tainted by two major flash points this season.
In July, Hamilton received a 10-second penalty at the British Grand Prix after being deemed responsible for a collision between the two, which left Verstappen needing hospital treatment.
Despite the penalty, it was the 36-year-old who went on to win the race.
Then at the Italian Grand Prix, it was Verstappen blamed by FIA officials after another coming together brought a premature end to the race for both drivers.
He was duly handed a three-place grid penalty for the following race, with Hamilton stating he was glad “to be alive” after his halo prevented the Red Bull car careering into his head.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will start third in the grid tomorrow, but Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez struggled as he could only secure sixth place.
McLaren’s Norris was unable to repeat his Russia heroics, where he claimed a first ever pole position, and will start seventh.
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