A good day for Mercedes in Turkey, where Lewis Hamilton leads the field in both free practice sessions. The seven time world champion put four tenths between him and title rival Max Verstappen, while the Dutchman could only clock the fifth best time in the afternoon, six tenths behind Hamilton.
A good day for Mercedes, which seems very competitive in a high gripped Istanbul Park, with Bottas performances looking strong as well. The Brackley team, instead, decided to change the fourth ICE on Lewis' car, menaning the Briton will get a ten place penalty for Sunday's race. The team decided to change only that component of the Power Unit, in order for the champion to limit the losses. Anyway, with Red Bull issues Lewis can aim to the pole and can run for the win starting from tenth.
"The track felt so different to last year: in 2020, oil was rising from the new surface and the grip was so difficult to find. Coming into this weekend, I didn’t know what to expect when we went out there but the level of grip was intense, it was awesome. The track is so much more enjoyable to drive" said Sir Lewis at the end of FP2.
"We started off with a really great setup in FP1, the first session was strong. We made some changes between the sessions and combined with track evolution, the car didn’t feel quite as good but we made some important learnings, for sure".
The weather is set to play - once again - a big role during qualifying, as forecasts predicts rain on Saturday.
"We’re fairly close to the maximum we can extract from the package but we always find something overnight, so we’ll be working hard to take our pace into tomorrow – hopefully it isn’t raining! I have a lot of work to do on Sunday and I need to just focus on getting the best out of tomorrow, obviously aiming for pole to limit the loss of the penalty".
Good day for Valtteri Bottas as well: the Finn was fourth fastest in FP1, but made it to third in the afternoon. With Hamilton's penalty, he is going to be the only Mercedes at the front: it's his job to fight Verstappen and maybe Charles Leclerc's Ferrari and Lando Norris' McLaren, who both looked strong as well during free practice.
"Today was a lot faster than last year! FP1 today was over 10 seconds faster than last year and it’s actually become one of the grippiest tracks we have on the calendar which makes it a lot of fun - I enjoyed it today. Last year the balance was geared towards correcting understeer with the low grip but now we can be a bit more aggressive with the car" said Bottas.
"In FP1 we were all trying to adapt and read the balance. Our starting point was a bit off but by FP2, the car was feeling was pretty good. No big issues and no red flags so a lot of running and it feels like it could be a strong weekend for us. Looking at the timing board, it looks like a good track for Ferrari but I’m sure Red Bull have a lot more to come, as we all do. It’s going to be close".