For a big part of this week, there have been speculations that Mercedes would change their leading driver Lewis Hamilton’s engine for the Turkish Grand Prix. Well, it is now confirmed they’ll do it and as a result, Hamilton will start 11th or lower in Sunday’s race.
Not yet known whether the choice was right or wrong as we await the qualifying round and actual races, both Hamilton and Bottas did pretty well in Friday’s practice and if they channel that energy, or more later, they could edge out rivals Red Bull.
Hamilton must do his best in today’s qualifying to not have it harder in tomorrow’s race when he starts 10 positions lower than his qualification position. But everything else probably depends on Bottas’ ability to hold off the others, especially Verstappen, like he did in practice on Friday.
Red Bull will definitely try to maximize this advantage as they believe that Hamilton’s side was forced into the engine change decision. Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports, “…it was more of a forced-choice rather than a selected one…you’ve seen that they’ve had some issues.”
Mercedes, on the other hand, insinuates that their decision was tactical and made to avoid future problems. “…we are running simulations for the whole season…the risk of reliability goes up…to just change that to get a 10-grid place penalty,” said their side’s Andrew Shovlin to RacingNews365.com.
If Friday’s practice session is anything to go by, Mercedes have probably spoiled a possible comfortable win for the 7-time world champion as he easily outed Verstappen in their second session.
The 36-year old will have a hard time overtaking more than ten competitors, but tomorrow’s track is reportedly easy to do that on and his team will be banking on the two drivers to put in the performance of their lives.
Their side’s decision seems wrong and is thought to negatively affect the defending champion’s chances. But with Hamilton’s experience and if Bottas brings his A-game in Sunday’s race, the Britton might get his 101st win, comfortably laying the foundation for a record-setting eight-time world championship.