Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was fastest in both of Friday’s training sessions for the Turkish Grand Prix, but must take a 10-place net penalty for Sunday’s race after changing the engine on his Mercedes.
Championship leader Hamilton was fastest in second practice with a time of 1min 23.804sec ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
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Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes finished third, followed by Red Bull couple Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, the Dutchman who follows Hamilton with just two points in the title race.
Verstappen was more than half a second behind Hamilton, who avoided a full net penalty as the entire power unit was not changed.
On Sunday, on the track where Hamilton finished the 2020 title, he starts at best in 11th place. If another part changes on Saturday or even before the race on Sunday, he will be punished harder.
“The track felt so different than last year – in 2020, oil rose from the new surface and the grip was so hard to find,” Hamilton said.
“We are fairly close to the maximum we can extract from the package, but we always find something overnight, so we are working hard to take our pace into tomorrow – hopefully it does not rain!
“I have a lot of work to do on Sunday and I just have to focus on getting the best out of tomorrow, of course with the aim that rod should limit the loss of the penalty.”
Aussie Daniel Ricciardo was well back, finishing only the 14th fastest time in P2. His efforts come after delivering a reality check on McLaren, which says that despite his recent win at Monza and fellow Lando Norris’ strong performances, his outfit’s ability to challenge top teams is still largely dependent on each circuit.
“I think it’s still a bit track dependent for us as a team. I do not think we are universally strong across the board, at every track layout we go to, ”said Ricciardo.
“The ones we are strong on seem like we can really take it to the top two teams.”
McLaren team manager Andreas Seidl agreed, adding: “I think with the image we’ve seen so far this year, yes, I agree it will be track specific.”
Hamilton won the 100th race of his career in the final round of the championship in Russia, while Verstappen, who finished second in Russia despite starting from behind, said training in Turkey “was not the best days”.
“It’s a super nice course especially with the improved conditions, but it looks like we have a lot to go through this evening because today were not the best days,” said the Dutchman.
“We tried a few different things that went from FP1 to FP2, but we’re still looking for improvements as we do not have much data on these cars for this track.
“Of course Lewis is taking a penalty on Sunday, but we have to focus on ourselves, hopefully we can make improvements before we qualify tomorrow as we have some challenges, we’ll see what we can do.”