Lewis Hamilton admits ‘difficult’ challenge at Turkish GP with fastest qualifying time

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Lewis Hamilton has admitted the Turkish Grand Prix is going to be a “difficult challenge” after setting the fastest time during qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix. Despite beating his team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, Hamilton lines up 11th on the grid thanks to a 10-place grid penalty due to an engine change.

Speaking after the session, the seven-time world champion was pleased with the team’s performance.

“The track is absolutely awesome with the grip level it’s giving us now,” said the Mercedes driver. “The session was really tricky with some damp patches, but it was a really great job by the team. I’m so happy with the performance, in terms of getting us out at the right time.

“Tomorrow’s going to be difficult, but I’ll give it everything. It’s not the easiest overtaking at the moment, and we’re all on the same tyre, so I imagine tomorrow’s going to be difficult to move up. 

“You saw Max in the last race once he get behind sixth, but we’ve got the long straight down the back – hopefully we can give the fans a good race.”

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Hamilton knew coming into the session that he would be starting 11th at best in another jumbled up qualifying session, as Mercedes too a fourth internal combustion engine ahead of first pratice on Friday.

It means the championship leader will crucially start 10 places behind his maint title rival Max Verstappen, whos starts second behind Bottas on pole.

Hamiton continued: “It’s so good to be back in Turkey because obviously last year was an unbelievable year from for myself and the team.

“So to be coming back, the track is completely different, the track is absolutely awesome with the grip, and the grip level that it is giving us now.

“It was really tricky this session in general because there was still some damp patches and getting the temperature in the tyres for the first time wasn’t easy.

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“But really, really great job by the team, I’m so happy with the performance in terms of getting us out at the right time, tomorrow is gonna be difficult but I’ll give it everything.

“It’s not the easiest overtaking at the moment and we’re all on the same tyre as well so I imagined tomorrow is going to be difficult to move up, like we saw in the last race with Max for example.

“So, I don’t know, but we’ve got the long straight down the back. We’ll see what we can do, hopefully we can give the fans here a good race.”

Earlier in the weekend, the seven-time world champion admtited he had a “lot of work to do” on Sunday after Mercedes opted to take a fourth engine.

The internal combustion engine change triggered a mandatory 10-place grid penalty for the championship leader.

The championship leader didn’t set a representative time during third practice, with the 36-year-old two seconds off the pace with just five laps on the board due to the rain, however speaking after Friday’s sessions, he said: “We started off with a really good set-up,” he said. “The first session was really strong, we made some changes, and the track is evolving and feeling different. 

“The changes were okay; I’m not sure it felt as good as it did in the first session in the second session but we’ve got lots of good findings and hopefully take those forward.”

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