Formula 1

Shock sixth place start for Hamilton: “The best we could [do]”

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Photo credit: LAT Images

The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team pole dominance ended abruptly during the qualifying session for the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix as both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas failed to reach the top three as the Saturday afternoon session ended. 

Hamilton qualified in what he described as “the best we could” in sixth place, while teammate Bottas will start tomorrow’s race at the Intercity Istanbul Park Circuit in ninth place. This ends the team’s 100% pole position record this season and marks Hamilton’s worst qualifying result since he started the 2018 German Grand Prix in fourteenth place. 

The weekend was marred by treacherous track conditions, caused by heavy rain showers together with the newly resurfaced track. The Mercedes had struggled all weekend for pace, and the drivers accepted the challenge will only continue into tomorrow’s race. 

“It was so challenging out there today and we were all struggling, but for whatever reason some people could switch on the tyres better than us,” said Hamilton. “We were limited on tyre temperatures and just couldn’t find the grip we needed. We tried our hardest and did the best we could, but this was the fastest that we could drive today. 

“It’s going to be a challenge tomorrow and I think we’ll find it hard to get the tyres to work, but I’ll give it everything I’ve got.

Bottas was unable to find grip and pace in the W11, and like Hamilton, struggled with the track conditions they faced over the practice and qualifying sessions. The Finn said: “It’s been very tricky out there all weekend, but today was particularly challenging. 

“We have a great car, but in the end it’s the tyres that connect the car to the ground – and if you can’t get the tyres to work and you don’t generate any grip, it doesn’t matter how strong your car is.

“I really struggled on the Inters in Q3 as I just couldn’t get any temperature into them at all. It’s not the grid position I wanted, but I’m looking forward to the race. I know I have nothing to lose.”

The team accepted that it had been a difficult weekend all round, but Team Principal Toto Wolff took the time to also congratulate Racing Point Formula One Team on their strong performance which saw lance Stroll take pole position – the first of his career. 

Wolff said: “It wasn’t a great day for us today – it was cold and wet on a newly surfaced tarmac and in the end these unusual circumstances caught us out as we couldn’t get the tyres to work. We didn’t really get on top of these issues all weekend long and that’s why we ended up P6 and P9 on the grid. But as we always say, the days where we are beaten are the days where we learn the most. 

“I’m absolutely confident that the team that will analyse the situation and try and understand our issues today, will help us progress and make sure that we will be stronger in similar circumstances next year. Congratulations to the Racing Points – to Lance for his pole position and to Checo for being right up there as well. I’m looking forward to an exciting race tomorrow.”

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