Lewis Hamilton could potentially wrap up a record-equalling seventh World Drivers Championship this weekend as Formula 1 returned to Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix for the first time since 2011 when Sebastian Vettel won with Red Bull.
However, following three strong practice sessions, Max Verstappen will look to take full advantage of the tricky conditions in today’s qualifying session.
Hamilton only needs to extend his lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas by just eight points to claim the title, so all eyes will be taking a look at what the Finn can do to carry on the battle going into the next race weekend.
Conditions are very poor today, with visibility a huge issue for the drivers.
Conditions look pretty harsh for the drivers. Mercedes look like they are going to be cautious while Red Bull look to be able to progress further. While George Russell will take a grid penalty due to an engine change.
DRS is probably not going to be used today and there is plenty of twists and turns to overtake. Also, the track is only 10-days old after it was resurfaced due to the return of F1. Paired with rain this will make conditions very tricky for the drivers, as seen in practice where multiple drivers complained of a lack of grip.
Here we go in today’s first qualifying session. Straight away Verstappen loses his grip and goes sideways but is able to recover.
Our first times are up and it’s a shaky start with Bottas leading with a time of 2:07.001 but these conditions are going to be a struggle for all drivers as Romain Grosjean goes for a slide.
Here comes the rain and the bottom five consist of Charles Leclerc, Grosjean, Pierre Gasly, Russell and Nicholas Latifi who hasn’t set a time yet.
RED FLAG. Race control have decided that enough is enough with the rain coming down heavier by the second and have decided to stop the session.
In the bottom five, we have Latifi in last, Russell in 19th, Gasly in 18th, Grosjean in 17th and Leclerc in 16th.
If we couldn’t get any more racing in today we will have to do qualifying tomorrow and then the race but hopefully, the conditions can change and we can get back out there.
Back in 2011 the time set was around 1:20.00 by Vettel and so we are about 30 to 40 seconds off that pace, but in better news, we have the safety car out checking the track to see if it’s safe.
We have another vehicle on the track. It isn’t the safety car but it’s also not an F1 driver. It’s a truck sweeper trying to clear the standing water on the track so we could be waiting for another 10 minutes.
We are going back at 12:55 for the restart of the session. Who will sink and who will swim?
Alex Albon has come out first to beat the traffic but his tyre temperatures are going to plummet before he is able to get out.
There’s the green light and off we go and straight away Kimi Raikkonen slides on the straight from the pits
Another red flag as Grosjean is beached at turn one and a red flag is called to halt the session. What is it going to be like tomorrow in the race if it’s like this?
The session will be restarted at 13:03 as they move the Haas car out of the gravel and make the track safe again.
Here we go again. Can we finish Q1 and can Verstappen improve his time while only 0.007 seconds off of elimination.
Verstappen has put his foot on the throttle and goes from 16th to first and Albon comes takes second. Raikkonen fills out the top three while Hamilton finishes 14th.
However, we lose Latifi, who also was beached in the gravel, Grosjean, Russell, Daniil Kvyat in 17th and Kevin Magnussen in 16th.
So here we go in Q2 with the top 15. As with Q1 the bottom five will be eliminated.
The first set of times are set and Lando Norris’ time will not count as he exceeded track limits at turn six. But Verstappen, Lance Stroll, Sergio Perez, Bottas and Hamilton all break the two-minute mark.
Albon sets the fastest time so far but Stroll looks to be faster with two purple sectors, he hasn’t made a Q3 since Mugello. So could today be the day as breaks his drought?
Leclerc is looking in trouble after a great practice he is struggling to break into the top 10 and his companion Vettel is also struggling to break the top 10, finding himself in 11th.
Max Verstappen puts a 1:50.293 and looks to be hitting the heights he was hitting yesterday and this morning.
Here comes the crunch time as the bottom five being Vettel, Carlos Sainz, Leclerc, Norris and Gasly are looking for a way to break in the top 10. Can Antonio Giovinazzi follow Raikkonen and get his Alfa Romeo into Q3?
Both Ferrari’s and both McLaren’s are out along with Gasly also being knocked out of Q2.
However, Verstappen and Albon take the top two with Hamilton and Stroll in third and fourth respectively, while Giovinazzi and Esteban Ocon finishing fifth and sixth, while Bottas and Raikkonen sit P7 and P8. Perez and Daniel Ricciardo completing the top 10.
So here we go for Q3. The last time Verstappen lead all three qualifying session he went on to win the race in Mexico 2017.
Verstappen is on fire and sets a 1:52.326 to lead Q3 and he is showing no signs of slowing up and is only one second faster than Stroll who is looking good in the wet.
Perez has now taken first with a 1:52 and pretty much the entire field follow suit.
Perez has never started on pole and he hits 1:49 with Stroll making it a Racing Point front-row lockout as the Mexican takes provisional pole with Verstappen needing to bridge a gap of three seconds.
Its last lap and Stroll beats Perez to take pole with Verstappen taking second. Perez will sit third next to Albon in fourth.
Ricciardo and Hamilton in fifth and sixth, Ocon and Raikkonen in seventh and eighth while Bottas can only make ninth and Giovinazzi 10th.
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