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Turkish GP: Qualifying team notes - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
09/10/2021

The pole position lap was set by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, using the soft C4 tyre to beat last year's pole (set in wet weather) by 25 seconds and break the Istanbul Park track record that he set yesterday. With Hamilton dropping out of the top 10 tomorrow due to an engine change penalty, pole position effectively belongs to his team mate Valtteri Bottas, who qualified second.

The weather was one of the main influences on the action today, with drivers jockeying for position in Q1 to set a banker time, after heavy rain was predicted shortly after the beginning of qualifying. This never materialised although conditions remained humid and cool, with the session getting underway in ambient temperatures of 20 degrees ambient and 23 degrees on track. The Mercedes duo were the only drivers to get through Q1 on just one set of soft tyres.

The drivers all ran the soft tyre in Q1 and Q3, but the P Zero Yellow medium was seen in Q2: which dictates the tyres the top 10 on the grid use for the race start. All 15 drivers in Q2 set their best time on the medium compound, with the exception of Alpha Tauri's Yuki Tsunoda and Haas driver Mick Schumacher. Only Tsunoda managed to get in the top 10, so he will be the sole driver who qualified in the front half of the grid to start on the soft. Tsunoda was also the only driver to run the medium in the first part of Q3.

The FP3 session in the morning was held in wet conditions from start to finish, with the drivers running the Cinturato full wets and intermediates.

The fastest way to approach the 58-lap Turkish Grand Prix is a two-stopper, with one stint on the P Zero Yellow medium and two on the P Zero White hard. This is because two stops minimise graining and wear, allowing drivers to push harder during shorter stints.

Next-quickest is a one-stopper, going from the medium to the hard (and the next-fastest strategy after that involves doing two stints on the medium and one on the hard). So the nine drivers who got through Q2 on the medium tyre, and will therefore start the race on this compound tomorrow, have a few options available to them (depending on which tyres they have available).

However, a more aggressive two-stop 'sprint' strategy using the P Zero Red soft tyre to start the race might also pay off under the right circumstances - so the strategy is finely balanced. Those starting on the soft tyre will need to stop relatively soon into the race due to the high wear rates on this compound (also because of the pressure-washed track surface) but after that they also have options.

The pit stop time loss penalty in Turkey is one of the lowest of the year at 20 seconds, which works in favour of a two-stopper: especially if it turns into an eventful race.

Mario Isola: "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."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Istanbul, here.

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