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Turkish Grand Prix 2021 qualifying: Winners and losers

Lewis Hamilton dominated to pole position at the Turkish Grand Prix. Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton dominated to pole position at the Turkish Grand Prix. Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
ANALYST

Qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix, which started with a "100%" threat of rain kept both the teams and the viewers on their toes throughout the one-hour session.

Finally, in a session that did have some rain, although hardly enough to even necessitate a switch to Intermediate tires, Lewis Hamilton dominated the field to take pole position. We look back at some of the winners and losers after Saturday.

Turkish Grand Prix Winners

Mercedes

πŸ’¬ β€œSo you need to give the tyre to me.” πŸ˜† - @ValtteriBottas https://t.co/YVGIJrr4Aa

The Turkish Grand Prix provided further proof that Mercedes have been the team to beat during the second half of the 2021 season. With the exception of the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, the Silver Arrows have been the quickest cars pretty much everywhere else.

Be it Spa, Monza, Sochi and now Istanbul Park, Mercedes have had the better overall package at all of these circuits. Red Bull will need to look long and hard at their car because for all intents and purposes, it is the slower package right now.

Mercedes have yet again locked out the front row and will likely be hoping to get polesitter Valtteri Bottas to hold up Max Verstappen long enough to allow Hamilton to fight his way to the front from 11th on the grid.

Charles Leclerc and Ferrari

Charles Leclerc is one of the best qualifiers in Formula 1. Verstappen has had his fair share of praise, as has Hamilton while Lando Norris, for his part, has also enjoyed a meteoric rise.

Leclerc, on the other hand, has been having a rather strange season. He's clearly been the better of the two drivers at Ferrari but trails teammate Carlos Sainz in the standings. In an ideal world, the Monegasque driver should have had two wins by now (Monaco and Silverstone).

That P4 lap out of nowhere during Turkish Grand Prix qualifying was surely a timely reminder then of how good Leclerc can be when Ferrari can give him a good car. Until then, the red cars provided no indication that they were on pace to qualify in the second row.

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso is a 40-year-old man making an F1 car do things that you'd think only a 20-year-old in his prime could. At the Turkish Grand Prix, he yet again showed that he was still the gold standard of driving in F1 by producing one solid lap after another.

It's been fascinating to see the Spaniard perform on his return to the sport. Comparing him to contemporaries like Kimi Raikkonen and even Sebastian Vettel, it's fair to say that Alonso has a lot more to offer.

Turkish Grand Prix Losers

Red Bull and Max Verstappen

With Hamilton being handed a 10-place grid penalty for the Turkish Grand Prix, Verstappen and Red Bull Racing had the perfect opportunity to make up some ground in the standings.

However, as soon as Verstappen ventured out on track during the Turkish Grand Prix weekend, he looked anything but comfortable. Hamilton seems to have a huge pace advantage against his title rival on a track where overtaking is arguably easier compared to some of the other venues.

To make things worse, outgoing Mercedes driver Bottas will have extra motivation to win the first race of the season from pole. So, while Red Bull are starting on the front row, they will be on the backfoot at the Turkish Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo's Italian Grand Prix win must feel like a distant dream right now as McLaren teammate Norris seems to have regained the upper hand on the Australian. That was apparent during Turkish Grand Prix qualifying after Ricciardo got eliminated in Q1 while Norris made it to Q3 and ended up eighth.

The Australian is still not comfortable with the McLaren and it seems he will need to wait until 2022 to finally get on terms with Norris, if ever.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel has had a few question marks raised over his recent performances, and post-qualifying for Turkish Grand Prix, those doubts continue to linger. The German was outqualified yet again by Lance Stroll as the four-time world champion just wasn't able to put together a good-enough lap in the changing conditions.

Vettel's performances after the summer break have seen a consistent decline. If we exclude the qualifying session at Spa, Stroll has had the upper hand on Vettel more often than not, and it's starting to show. It was another average outing at the Turkish Grand Prix for Vettel, who is expected to be doing what Fernando Alonso has already done at Alpine.

Edited by Sandeep Banerjee
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