Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was the fastest in Friday’s two practice sessions for the Turkish Grand Prix, but has to take a 10 grid-spot penalty for Sunday’s race after having replaced the engine of his Mercedes.
Championship leader Hamilton was the fastest in the second practice session with a time of 1 min 23.804 sec ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
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Valtteri Bottas in the other Mercedes was third, followed by Red Bull pair Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, the Dutchman who is just two points behind Hamilton in the title race.
Verstappen was over half a second behind Hamilton who avoided a grid-wide penalty as the entire powertrain was left untouched.
On Sunday, on the track where Hamilton won the 2020 title, he will start at best in 11th place. If another part is changed on Saturday or even before the Sunday race, he will be more heavily penalized.
“The track was so different from last year – in 2020 oil was rising from the new surface and the grip was so hard to come by,” said Hamilton.
“We’re pretty close to the maximum we can squeeze out of the package, but we always find something overnight, so we’re going to work hard to keep up with our pace until tomorrow – hope it’s not raining!
“I have a lot of work to do on Sunday and I just need to concentrate on making the most of tomorrow, obviously aiming for pole to limit the loss of the penalty.”
Australian Daniel Ricciardo was well back, setting only the 14th fastest time in P2. His effort comes after he delivered a reality check about McLaren saying despite his recent victory at Monza and the good performances of his colleague Lando Norris, the ability of his team to challenge the best teams still depends largely on each circuit.
“I think it still depends a bit on the track for us as a team. I don’t think we are universally strong in every area, every track layout we go, ”said Ricciardo.
“The ones we’re strong on, we seem to be able to really be in the top two teams.”
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl agreed, adding: “I think with the image we’ve seen so far this year, yes, I would agree that it will be specific to Track.”
Hamilton won the 100th race of his career in the final round of the championship in Russia while Verstappen, who finished second in Russia despite starting from the back of the grid, said training in Turkey “was not the best of days “.
“It’s a super nice track especially with improved conditions but it looks like we have a lot to do tonight because today was not the best of days,” said the Dutchman.
“We’ve tried different things between FP1 and FP2, but we’re always looking for improvements because we don’t have a lot of data on these cars for this track.
“Of course Lewis takes a penalty on Sunday, but we have to focus on ourselves, hopefully we can make improvements before qualifying tomorrow because we have challenges, we will see what we can do.”