Lewis Hamilton topped the opening free practice session for the Turkish Grand Prix on Friday morning, but the Briton will go into Qualifying on Saturday knowing he will drop ten places on the grid following an engine change.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver broke the Intercity Istanbul Park lap record in the opening session, with times considerably faster than they were twelve months ago when track conditions proved much more slippery than they were on Friday.
The track had been water-blasted ahead of the 2021 event, and it seemed to have worked as times tumbled compared to the 2020 race, with Hamilton’s best of 1:24.178 breaking the track record time of 1:24.770, which was from the 2005 event by Juan Pablo Montoya.
However, Hamilton will drop ten places on the grid for Sunday’s race after Mercedes opted to fit his fourth power unit for this event. This will give title rival Max Verstappen some confidence, and the Red Bull Racing driver ended second quickest in the session, albeit 0.425 seconds back on Hamilton’s time.
Third fastest was Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with the Monegasque driver using his updated power unit to good effect to get to within half a second of Hamilton’s best, while team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr., who will start at the back of the grid on Sunday following his change of engine, was fifth fastest, just behind the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.
Esteban Ocon was the equal-busiest driver of the session, with the Alpine F1 Team ace completing thirty laps and placing sixth fastest, just ahead of McLaren F1 Team’s Lando Norris who was taking part in his first session since he heartbreakingly lost the win in Russia two weeks ago due to a late weather change after leading for much of the race.
Pierre Gasly was eighth for Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda (and completed thirty laps like Ocon), while Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez completed the top ten. Pérez finished second in the race in 2020 whilst with the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team, and he will be needing to improve his pace across this weekend in order to be in with a chance of another podium on Sunday.
Just outside the top ten was the ever-impressive George Russell of Williams Racing, with the Briton just edging out McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team’s Sebastian Vettel, while the leading Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN of Antonio Giovinazzi was fourteenth.
The second Williams of Nicholas Latifi placed fifteenth ahead of the second Alfa Romeo of Kimi Räikkönen, while Lance Stroll, the polesitter for the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix, was down the order in seventeenth, ahead only of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and the two Uralkali Haas F1 Team drivers, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. It was no surprise that the three drivers who have not previously raced at the track were at the back of the pack.
Intercity Istanbul Park Free Practice 1 Result
|1||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:24.178||26|
|2||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull Racing||1:24.603||+0.425||24|
|3||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1:24.654||+0.476||27|
|4||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:24.842||+0.664||28|
|5||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||1:24.860||+0.682||25|
|6||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Alpine F1 Team||1:24.909||+0.731||30|
|7||4||Lando Norris||ITA||McLaren F1 Team||1:25.347||+1.169||26|
|8||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:25.382||+1.204||30|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Alpine F1 Team||1:25.383||+1.205||26|
|10||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||Red Bull Racing||1:25.459||+1.281||24|
|11||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||1:25.685||+1.507||25|
|12||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1:25.750||+1.572||26|
|13||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1:25.810||+1.632||26|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||1:25.813||+1.635||24|
|15||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1:25.863||+1.685||28|
|16||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||1:25.933||+1.755||24|
|17||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1:26.361||+2.183||29|
|18||22||Yuki Tsunoda||JAP||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:26.424||+2.246||28|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||GER||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1:26.636||+2.458||25|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||RUS||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1:27.019||+2.841||28|