Small swap, top training: Hamilton escapes drastic penalty transfer

The speculation is that Lewis Hamilton will not get through the rest of the Formula 1 season with his current drive. But he can’t actually afford the swap because of a penalty transfer and the close World Cup fight. His Mercedes racing team is now making a compromise. And Hamilton delivers.

Catching up light instead of tabula rasa: Formula 1 record world champion Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team have apparently decided on a compromise for the Turkish Grand Prix. “Only” a new combustion engine was installed in the racing car of the world championship leader. With this, the Briton will start from eleventh at best due to a penalty transfer, but even his 101st Grand Prix victory seems to be within the realm of possibility. On Friday, Hamilton dominated the training sessions in Istanbul Park, with a best time of 1: 23.804 minutes, the seven-time champion improved the course record.

“Red Bull will be difficult to overtake in the race. I have to get first place in qualifying to minimize the damage. It is not much different from other weekends,” said Hamilton: “The track is developing, we tried a little something . We will definitely find something to be even faster on Saturday – provided it stays dry. “

Hamilton was most likely to follow Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, 0.166 seconds behind. Hamilton’s big World Cup rival Max Verstappen, who is only two points behind before the 16th race of the season on Sunday (2 p.m. CEST / Sky and in the live ticker), was 0.635 seconds behind in fifth place. However, Red Bull experimented with adjusting the wings, sending Verstappen out onto the track with more downforce – a set-up that could be used in the rain.

Sebastian Vettel, who surprisingly finished third in the chaos race last year in the Ferrari, only finished 16th in the Aston Martin (+1.425). The Heppenheimer himself fueled speculations about a possible engine change, he would also be relegated to the starting line-up. Mick Schumacher (+1.676) was 19th once again faster than his Haas team-mate Nikita Mazepin.

Rain could be decisive again More on the subject

In the run-up it was speculated that all drive components on the Hamilton racing car would be replaced. This would have meant a start from the back of the field, as Verstappen had accepted in the previous race in Russia. Mercedes is still free to take this option, even if top engineer Andrew Shovlin described it as “unlikely” on the Sky UK microphone. Hamilton is therefore expected to fight from midfield to defend his narrow World Cup lead.

As in the previous races, the weather could influence this. Rain is possible both in qualifying on Saturday and in the race on Sunday. The track in front of the gates of Istanbul has a comparatively low grip level. In the previous year, numerous drivers slid off the track in their racing cars in the wet, while Hamilton drove in a league of its own and clinched his seventh title ahead of schedule. In any case, Carlos Sainz starts from the very back. The Ferrari driver’s power unit was completely rebuilt.