Following a surprise Q1 elimination during a disappointing qualifying session in Turkey, the Australian was set to start only 15th on the grid.
McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo will start at the back of the Turkish Grand Prix grid after his team decided to install a new engine in his Formula One car. Following a surprise Q1 elimination during a disappointing qualifying session in Turkey, the Australian was set to start only 15th on the grid. After assessing the situation overnight, McLaren has decided to use the opportunity to replace Ricciardo’s engine with new components. McLaren, on the other hand, will not make wholesale power unit changes, opting instead to install a new internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H, and exhaust system.
The strategic engine swap sends Ricciardo to the back of the grid for the Turkish Grand Prix, where he will start directly behind Carlos Sainz. Sainz also has a grid penalty after Ferrari installed an upgraded engine in his car ahead of the Istanbul race. A total of three drivers have taken grid drops in Turkey, with world championship leader Lewis Hamilton starting 11th after Mercedes replaced his internal combustion engine.
Mercedes has admitted that the reliability issues with its current engine will have to be “contained” for the remainder of the 2021 season. In the battle for third place in the constructors’ championship, McLaren leads Ferrari by 17.5 points heading into Sunday’s race. Lando Norris, Ricciardo’s teammate, will start eighth, while Charles Leclerc will start third in his Ferrari.
Although Lewis Hamilton was the fastest in qualifying on Saturday for the Turkish Grand Prix, the world champion will not start from pole position due to a grid penalty for using a new engine. His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who finished second, will start on pole, alongside Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Hamilton will start from 11th due to a 10-place penalty. Charles Leclerc of Ferrari will start third, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly starting fourth. Concerned about engine reliability in the remaining seven races, Hamilton’s Mercedes team chose to install the new engine – their fourth, one more than the regulations allow – at a track where they hope their championship leader will be able to come through the field and minimize the potential points loss to his title rival Verstappen.
Verstappen successfully mitigated the impact of installing a new power unit by finishing second after being last on the grid in Russia, and Hamilton took a two-point lead. Red Bull, which led the constructors’ championship earlier in the season, is now 33 points behind Mercedes. With the battle between Hamilton and Verstappen so close, Bottas will be expected to play a team game to ensure that the world champion earns the most points. Team orders may be used if necessary, but the Finn’s primary responsibility is to stay ahead of Verstappen.
The pole is a boost for Bottas, who will be replaced at Mercedes by George Russell of Williams next season. It is his first pole position since the third race of the season, at Portimao, and his 18th of his career. He has never won in Turkey, but Hamilton did win here last year to claim his seventh title.