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What the teams said – Qualifying for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix


Mercedes

After barely running in FP3 in wet conditions, Mercedes looked quick from the off in qualifying with both cars laying down impressive lap times. This was despite a somewhat hairy opening effort from Hamilton who ran wide on several occasions with the rain threatening. But fortunately, the track stayed dry and from there on in it was all about which team mate would come out on top. While Hamilton eventually did, his grid penalty means pole goes to Bottas – which is just reward for the Finn, after he lost out on pole himself in Monza thanks to grid penalties, despite being the quickest in Italy.

READ MORE: Hamilton promises ‘super attacking’ display in Turkish GP as Bottas denies he slowed down to help team mate in qualifying

Lewis Hamilton, 1st, 1:22.868

“It’s so good to be back in Turkey, last year was an unbelievable visit here for myself and the team! Coming back, the track is completely different – the grip level we’ve got now is absolutely awesome. The session today was really tricky because there were still some damp patches and getting temperature into the tyres for the first lap wasn’t easy. But it was a really, really great job by the Team, they got us out at the right time and put in a great performance. Tomorrow is going to be difficult, but I’ll give it everything! Overtaking isn’t the easiest at the moment and we’re all on the same tyre so I imagine tomorrow is going to be difficult to move up. We’ve got the long straight down the back so we’ll see what we can do. Hopefully we can give the fans here a good race!”

Valtteri Bottas, 2nd, 1:22.998

“Today was a good quali – not easy conditions, especially in Q1 which was on the edge with the damp parts and still in Q3 there were damp sections but I put together some good laps! On the final lap, I missed a little in the last sector with some understeer but other than that, the lap was really nice. I enjoyed it and obviously as a team result, today was pretty ideal.

“Max is starting next to me and the Ferrari has looked strong this weekend, so it’ll be a tough race but we’ll give it our all. We have a good race car, I just need to keep the focus on my own race, avoid mistakes and stay ahead. Strategy will always play a part but I’m feeling confident and looking forward to the start and getting the job done.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“The big positive today is that the car is very quick and Valtteri starts on pole tomorrow, but the negative is that it would have otherwise been a weekend with a front-row lockout for the team. Progress will be tough for Lewis with all cars in front of him other than Tsunoda starting on the Medium tyre and yesterday in the long-run we could see that it’s difficult to follow here. But Lewis has made phenomenal recovery drives time and time again, and there’s no one else you’d want in the car. Strategy will play a big part and we’ll be there to support him. Valtteri has been strong all weekend and he has got a great opportunity tomorrow. He clearly wants the win and it will also help Lewis so he’ll be going all-out for it.”

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

“A great job by the team and drivers on a front row qualifying and well done to Lewis on getting P1 today. That was close to the perfect result for us; not quite perfect as we’d have preferred Lewis to be on the Hard tyre for the start tomorrow but that felt like we’d have been taking too much of a risk getting through to the final session given the tricky conditions. Lewis drops back with his engine penalty but it’s great that Valtteri inherits pole; he’s been on strong form recently and has everything to play for with nothing to lose tomorrow. It’s going to be interesting to see how the car and tyres perform tomorrow. Clearly everyone is wary of the Soft tyre and most have kept their options open for the race as far as tyre choice is concerned. Our long runs were looking good on Friday, both in terms of pace and degradation so hopefully we can achieve our goals. It’s going to quite a challenge for Lewis to fight through without a tyre advantage. There are some strong cars in that midfield pack and Sergio won’t be doing him any favours but we’ve seen brilliant recovery drives from Lewis in Imola, Silverstone and Budapest so hopefully he can make it happen once again.”

Red Bull

Red Bull were well off the pace of the Silver Arrows yesterday, but showed signs of recovery in the wet in FP3. As the track dried, they looked like running their rivals close but in the end couldn’t match the might of Mercedes here, and weren’t helped by what was fortunately not a costly spin by Verstappen in Q1. Verstappen’s eventual third becomes second when Hamilton’s penalty is applied, but he will therefore have the dirty side of the track to contend with. As for Perez, he was slightly disappointed with seventh after making some small errors on his final flying run.

READ MORE: Downbeat Verstappen predicts it will be ‘quite difficult’ to fight Mercedes despite P2 grid slot in Istanbul

Max Verstappen, 3rd, 1:23.196

“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. I hope for a clean get away 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.”

Sergio Perez, 7th, 1:23.706

“We are showing good progress and I think we should be able to continue that into race day. With the mixed conditions in Q1 we lost a set of new softs, meaning we only had one set for Q3. We did a banker lap on the used softs which was a decent time and then we didn’t manage to improve as much as we wanted to on the second run, which meant we didn’t get the lap time we were looking for. I am feeling positive and I am looking forward to trying to get through the grid and score some good points for the Team. It is a pretty long race around here, overtaking is possible and the tyre degradation will be pretty high out there, so there is everything to play for. I believe if we can get a good clean run into turn one then we will be looking good for the rest of the race and a podium could be possible. We are up for the challenge; we have good strategy and pace.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“The guys have made a good recovery overnight and fixed some issues we needed to work out. I think the whole engineering Team, both trackside and back at the factory in Milton Keynes, have done a great job to make the progress that we have, hopefully that puts us in better shape for tomorrow. With Max qualifying in third, but starting the race from second, it’s going to be vital he gets a good start and tries to get ahead of Bottas early on as Lewis has looked the quickest he’s been all year so far around here, so he’s going to be coming through pretty quickly. Checo’s times on the scrub tyre and the medium tyre were strong, it was just that last run on the new set of softs that didn’t come together. The strategy we’ve picked tomorrow for him should see him be able to make good progress. We think we can be closer to Mercedes tomorrow than we were in qualifying, so we’ve got to get our heads down, keep plugging away, get the strategy right and try to capitalise by getting the maximum points we can for both drivers.”

Ferrari

After a slippery, slidey FP3 where both drivers had moments, qualifying couldn’t really have gone any better for the Scuderia. Sainz’s late improvement in Q1 knocked out one of their rivals in Ricciardo, and then the Spaniard towed his team mate in Q2 to ensure Leclerc made the top 10. Once there, the Monegasque nailed his final flying lap to nab fourth on the grid – which becomes third tomorrow, as he jumps across to the cleaner side of the track to boot.

READ MORE: Leclerc relieved to qualify fourth in ‘scary’ session as Sainz rues ‘missed opportunity’ to join team mate in Q3

Charles Leclerc, 4th, 1:23.265

“I am happy with my qualifying. P4 is a good result for the team, finishing just behind the championship leaders who, at the moment, are still tough for us to beat. We definitely maximised our car’s potential today. Q1 and Q2 were tricky for me, as I opted for a lower downforce set up this weekend which is the right choice for the race and hopefully should pay off tomorrow. But in today’s wet conditions, I slid around quite a bit and had to fight for it. It was great to see Carlos being there and giving me the slipstream on the final straight in Q2. It was good teamwork and helped us make it to Q3. I am happy with my final lap in the last session and look forward to the race. If the conditions are dry, I am confident that we have good potential.”

Carlos Sainz, 15th, No time set in Q2

“It was a pity we were not trying for a fastest time, especially seeing the performance of the car in dry conditions. It is difficult to take, but looking at the big picture it is better to take the penalty now and have a better engine for the remainder of the season. Our plan was executed perfectly today. In Q1 we took calculated risks to make it comfortably into Q2, bumping one car out which turned out to be a McLaren. Then in Q2 I stayed in the garage and went out on a perfectly timed strategy to help Charles with a bit of a slipstream on his Mediums. For tomorrow, it all depends on how the car feels in traffic and how we can go through the field without damaging the tyres too much. The pace has been encouraging all weekend so we are ready to fight our way up the order as much as possible. Bring it on!”

Laurent Mekies, Racing Director

“It was a hectic and closely fought qualifying session and the result shows we did a good job of preparing for this Grand Prix. It wasn’t easy managing all the variables today, starting with the weather and the choices to be made in terms of levels of aero downforce, especially for Charles. He did a great job, keeping calm even when the situation looked complicated and then he pulled it out of the bag in the end with a wonderful lap. Carlos showed great team spirit, yesterday getting on with a different but useful programme which we hope will pay off tomorrow and today he also played his part when the need arose. We are well aware the points are given out tomorrow and that tyre management will be very difficult in the race, but we will do our best as always.”

AlphaTauri

Both cars into Q3 is a brilliant result for AlphaTauri off the back of a couple of difficult race weekends. Gasly has looked quick here from the off, and even topped FP3 in the wet. He might have hoped the conditions stayed damp for qualifying but in the end had to make do with a still brilliant fifth on the slick tyres. As for Tsunoda, he was the only car not to use the mediums in Q2 and as such will start on the softs. But he’ll still take his first Q3 appearance since Austria – especially considering a big spin in Q1 nearly cost him his front wing and his place in the session.

Pierre Gasly, 5th, 1:23.326

“I’m very happy to have qualified fifth today, and then to be starting P4 tomorrow after Lewis’ penalty. The team have made such a big improvement to the car since yesterday, as I was really struggling with understeer. It wasn’t the easiest to see if these changes had worked this morning, as FP3 was wet, but as soon as we got to qualifying, I was competitive and that was really positive. I’m confident heading into tomorrow’s race after the big step-up we’ve made with the car today and I’m hopeful we can score big points in the race.”

Yuki Tsunoda, 10th, 1:24.368

“I have to say I’m still slightly disappointed with my performance today, I really believe that the pace of the car was there, and I could’ve been starting tomorrow further up the grid. The team did a fantastic job but unfortunately, I just couldn’t put it all together in Q3. I’ll be starting tomorrow’s race on the softs, which is a different strategy to most of the other cars around me, so I’ll have to prepare tonight and take every opportunity I can tomorrow. It’s still positive to qualify in the top 10, the main goal for me this weekend is to finish in the points, and I hope that tomorrow I can do that from a strong starting position.”

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer

“Following FP2 we made some big changes to the car to improve the balance, as both drivers were continuing to struggle with this in yesterday’s afternoon session. Due to FP3 being wet, we didn’t get the opportunity to try our dry settings ahead of qualifying, but we saw that these still worked well in those conditions, which was positive ahead of quali. We used the session to complete some further tests to increase our understanding of the tyres on a wet track and we also continued to show the good pace we have here this weekend.

“Heading into quali, we decided to use a slightly different tyre plan with each driver. We wanted Yuki to get the highest possible starting position, so we gave him an additional set of softs, whereas for Pierre we aimed to optimise his race strategy by using just the mediums in Q2. Pierre managed to maximise every lap and had a fantastic Saturday afternoon, it’s a shame to be so close to P4 but the improvements we’ve made overnight to minimise the gap to Leclerc have worked really well. Likewise, Yuki has really made a step up this weekend and it’s great to see him back in Q3. The whole team has done some great work so far to have both cars starting in the top 10 tomorrow.”

Alpine

Ocon was left frustrated at the end of Q2 as a mistake compromised his final flying run, leaving him just short of Q3. As for Alonso, he did make the top 10 and matched his qualifying from Sochi last time out. With one lap pace supposedly his nemesis as he continues to get up to speed after his F1 hiatus, it certainly looks like the Spaniard has found those missing tenths and is once again the complete package.

Esteban Ocon, 12th, 1:24.842

“It’s disappointing not to be in the top 10 today as we probably had the pace to be there. Unfortunately, I had to abort my Q2 lap due to traffic and I wasn’t able to complete the lap. It would have been close to reaching Q3, but it happens like that sometimes. We’re fighting some inconsistencies with the car at the moment, which we’re working hard to fix. We’ll keep working as a team to progress and get on top of it. Our focus is immediately on what we can do tomorrow, and the aim is to try and work our way back to the points.”

Fernando Alonso, 6th, 1:23.477

“It felt good today and I am happy with the result. The car felt fast, and I think we made the correct choice on which tyres to use in all of the sessions. We were also fast enough to qualify on the medium tyres in Q2, which was a nice luxury to have! We seem competitive so I think we have a good chance to score points tomorrow. Let’s see if we can keep the pace with those around us. I think strategy will be key, as we saw tyre graining was quite high in dry conditions. We’ll be looking at the weather forecast and take it step by step.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“It was a tricky session with the weather and the possibility of rain during Q1, so we wanted to get out early and complete a lap time for both cars. It never really rained heavily enough to have a big impact, but it was nevertheless very challenging conditions for the drivers and for the team. Fernando did extremely well today and will start fifth tomorrow with Lewis’ [Hamilton] penalty, so that is a good result for us. Unfortunately, Esteban couldn’t improve on his final attempt in Q2 meaning he starts in 12th place. He will have a free tyre choice tomorrow, so let’s see if it can be an opportunity and we’ll try to recover some places for him and target a top ten finish. The car has shown some good potential this weekend, so let’s see what we can do tomorrow when it all counts.”

McLaren

Ricciardo hasn’t been on the form of his team mate here, struggling in both the wet and dry conditions. As such it wasn’t a seismic shock to see him go out in Q1, with the Aussie set to have a long day tomorrow if he can’t find some extra pace from somewhere. As for Norris, he too struggled at times and was ultimately disappointed with P8. But starting on the medium tyre, at least he should still be on for a good haul of points tomorrow.

READ MORE: Ricciardo says he needed a ‘magic wand’ to avoid Q1 exit as he aims to ‘put on a show’ from P16 in Turkey

Daniel Ricciardo, 16th, 1:25.881

“Obviously not where we want to be. The track was steadily drying and everyone just kept improving a chunk on that last lap. We didn’t make as big a step on that second set of Softs, and we’ve found it tricky with the Soft most of the weekend so it’s just unfortunate to be so far down the grid. We’ll find a way to come back tomorrow and try to understand the Soft tyre a bit better. It was probably also a bit of timing, we got quite a few yellow flags in Turn One which put us out of sync early. But I’ve already moved on from it, so now we’ll put our head down for the race tomorrow.”

Lando Norris, 8th, 1:23.954

“A tough day with tricky conditions. We were just lacking pace today, so it was very tough to achieve a lot more than what we did. There was a slim possibility we could’ve got P7 but even [Sergio] Pérez was quite a bit quicker than us. Not the result we wanted, but I think it was the best result we could really achieve, so we’ll try again tomorrow and see if we can do better.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal

“A challenging qualifying session for us today with a disappointing outcome, despite working hard overnight to unlock more performance from the car. We haven’t made a large step forward on performance and that meant we struggled for pace today – especially on the Soft tyres. That resulted in an early end to Daniel’s session, qualifying P16, and Lando, after getting through to Q3 on the Medium tyre, qualified P8 and will start P7. Tomorrow is another day, we’re expecting dry conditions and will work hard again this evening to see if we can unlock a little more performance in race trim, with the aim of moving both cars forwards.”

Aston Martin

While Aston Martin managed to make it to Q2 with both cars, sadly Vettel couldn’t go any further. Stroll did make it through to Q3 by the skin of his teeth – the Canadian spun and had to abort his final flying lap in Q2, leaving a tense wait to see if he had done enough. Once there though, he didn’t have the pace to compete with the rest of the midfield in the top 10 shootout. The good news is that Vettel is the highest placed car with free tyre choice, and as last year showed, anything is possible here.

Sebastian Vettel, 11th, 1:24.795

“The conditions today were always improving and, although the track was mostly dry, there were still some damp areas where I struggled. It was not easy to find a rhythm. I lost most of my lap time in those damp areas, especially in Turn 1. After that, it was difficult to make up the deficit on the remainder of the lap. I think we had more pace in the car today so I am not happy to qualify 11th, but starting from 10th means we have a good opportunity to fight for points tomorrow.”

Lance Stroll, 9th, 1:24.305

“After practice yesterday, we made some helpful changes to the car overnight and I think that showed in our performance today. Overall, I am satisfied and it was a good effort. I had a small off during my final run in Q2, but my previous lap was strong enough to make it into Q3. Tomorrow, we will be starting the race from eighth on the medium tyre, which should put us in a good position for the opening stint. There are a few quick cars out of position on the grid – because of the conditions and various grid penalties – so we will have to capitalise on that, fight until the end, and push every lap to see where we end up.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO

“On a drying track Sebastian narrowly failed to get through to Q3, missing out by just 0.153sec. He will start tomorrow’s race from P10 [because his P11 will become P10 as a result of fastest qualifier Lewis Hamilton’s 10-place grid penalty], from which grid slot he will be aiming to move up to a points-scoring position. Lance was ninth in Q2, moving smoothly through to Q3 therefore, and repeated ninth in Q3 [net P8], from where he too will be aiming for a good points finish tomorrow.”

Williams

Russell was one of a number of drivers hoping the conditions stayed wet out there but alas, the track did dry during qualifying. Rain can neutralise the pace deficit Williams has at some circuits but it was not to be here, but P13 is still a very solid effort from ‘Mr Saturday’, especially considering he didn’t run much in FP3 after beaching his car in the gravel. Latifi had a quieter day than his team mate, knocked out in Q1 as others improved late on, and having to make do with 17th.

George Russell, 13th, 1:25.007

“There were too many mistakes on my side today. At the end of Q2, I was on a really strong lap which would have easily been good enough to get us through to Q3. I unfortunately lost all the time in the last corner which is a big shame as the lap up to that point was incredible. I’m really trying to push the boundaries at the moment, but I went over it today and it’s not good enough from my side. The conditions weren’t easy but it’s the same for everybody and I expect more from myself.

“It’s going to be an interesting race tomorrow as the green track means that nobody knows for sure what the right strategy is going to be and how the tyres are going to perform. Unfortunately, it’s now going to be much harder for us starting from 13th rather than inside in the top 10, so it’s frustrating.”

Nicholas Latifi, 17th, 1:26.086

“The car was feeling decent and the track conditions were quite changeable, with the rain starting and stopping, so it was about being on the track at the right moment and setting a lap when it mattered. Every time I was doing a lap, it was consistently putting me in the top 15. But on the last two laps, when the track was at its driest, we didn’t execute it. It’s very frustrating as the performance has been good enough to progress into Q2 in the last few races.”

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

“Both drivers showed excellent pace today in tricky conditions, but both were unlucky at key moments. The rain held off longer than we expected at the start of Q1, but we adapted and were in decent positions. George was able to improve and make Q2 but for Nicky, a small mistake at T1 cost him his first effort and we then had to decide whether to push again or prepare for a final push lap. We opted to push again but with conditions improving, other cars had the opportunity to better his time and unfortunately, he missed out.

“In Q2, we opted for a strategy similar to Austria and George was on an excellent lap on the Option tyre when a small mistake at the last corner robbed him of a certain place in Q3.

“The car has worked well this weekend and we made some good decisions today, but the margins for error are so small in Formula One, that we are left frustrated by the end result. More rain is expected overnight and so there are likely to be further opportunities tomorrow when we hope to enjoy some better luck.”

Haas

Schumacher looked the more comfortable of the two Haas drivers today, nailing his final flying lap in Q1 as the track rapidly evolved to make Q2 on merit. This is the first time he has been able to take part in Q2 and he wasn’t helped by losing his final flying lap to yellow flags. Nonetheless, P14 is his best grid slot of the year. As for Mazepin, two spins at Turn 1 cost the Russian as he was unable to set a competitive time in the greasy conditions.

READ MORE: Turkish GP Qualifying Facts & Stats – A first ever Mercedes front row slot in Turkey, as Schumacher makes second Q2 appearance

Mick Schumacher, 14th, 1:25.200

“Those tricky conditions were fun to drive, I enjoyed it and I think we as a team took the right decisions at the right time. We analysed it properly, we went through all the steps we usually do and found the right set up for the right conditions. It’s gone well from FP1, it’s been a nice feeling on track in the car so I’m happy. We got to drive, show our performance and I think maybe we even had a tenth or two in there. Tomorrow, hopefully we’re able to keep the position or even be a bit further forward.”

Nikita Mazepin, 20th, 1:28.449

“I went out there and obviously the grip was good enough on most of the track for the slick tyres but Turn 1 caught me out so we boxed from that set and then I wasn’t really sure where to push, how to push. In these conditions I was caught out as we expected the rain to come so I had two laps to do, but obviously the rain didn’t come. I needed to do a lap and I did a lap, but it wasn’t good enough today.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“All in all, a good day for the team today with getting Mick into Q2 and participating in it, unlike last time where he couldn’t. He shows with hard work – even if your car is not as good – you can still achieve results. Everyone did a great job, Mick driving and the team making no mistakes in a difficult situation with the rain coming and going, everything was done right. For Nikita, we tried our best but he just doesn’t get along with Turn 1 here. When he was on a fast lap, his time was disallowed because of exceeding track limits in Turn 1 so he couldn’t get a complete lap in. The team did a good job today and what more can you wish for at the moment.”

Alfa Romeo

Not to be for Alfa Romeo, with both cars exiting at the first time of asking. Raikkonen’s weekend went from bad to worse as he was released into the path of Schumacher’s Haas at one point, much to his chagrin – but at least there was no repeat of the leaking drinks bottle. The team weren’t able to put it together when it mattered today – but points aren’t awarded until Sunday, so there is still a chance to turn things around.

Kimi Raikkonen, 19th, 1:27.525

“We were pretty good in the rain this morning, so it’s a shame not to make it past Q1 today. We tried our best but we couldn’t really put the laps together. When we finally got the right grip at the end of the session, we were stuck behind another car and that was it. A lot of small things went wrong today, so let’s focus on tomorrow. Hopefully we will have some changeable conditions and a bit of chaos to help us make up places.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, 18th, 1:26.430

“We looked okay coming into qualifying, but we didn’t put everything together when we had to. The conditions were difficult, some parts of the track were drying but others rather wet: in the end, it is what it is and we need to work to make it better for the race. It’s only Saturday, we race tomorrow and we will give our best. Our race pace was not too bad: if we have a good first lap, we can have our say.”

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal

“It’s obviously disappointing not to turn what had started as a promising day into a good qualifying result. We had looked strong in the rain in FP3, but when it came to this afternoon, we weren’t able to put together the laps we needed. We need to regroup and recapture the form we had earlier in the weekend ahead of tomorrow: it’s a long race and the conditions are still an unknown, so we could have a good chance to make up ground and come home with a good result.”

Pirelli

Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing

“The rain had the effect of re-setting the track, but even in the wet conditions of free practice, the drivers reported a lot more grip compared to last year. The drivers then got to grips with the rapidly-evolving track on slicks again during qualifying, with nearly all of them choosing the medium for Q2. A two-stopper using the medium for one stint and the hard for two stints is on paper the fastest strategy tomorrow, but a medium-hard one-stopper or a ‘sprint’ strategy using the soft can’t be discounted either, so there are some interesting possibilities. The weather will also have a part to play, with the risk of rain still present. If this turns out to be the case, the wet running in FP3 will have been extremely valuable. The crossover points between both wets and intermediates as well as intermediates and slicks are lower than other tracks, and this will have an influence on strategies in changeable conditions.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action as Hamilton goes fastest in Turkish GP qualifying

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