Lewis Hamilton believes he is in for a “difficult” Turkish Grand Prix from 11th on the grid, fearing overtaking won’t be a given.
Hamilton set a new track record at Istanbul Park on his way to topping the timesheets in Saturday’s qualifying session, but an engine change will see the seven-time world champion start P11.
Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas inherited pole position and crucially qualified ahead of Hamilton’s title rival Max Verstappen, who will start on the front row.
Hamilton’s progress will be made much harder by nine of the top 10 starting on the same medium compound tyres, with only AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda making it through to Q3 on the softs.
“It was really tricky, the session, in general, because there were still some damp patches and getting the temperatures in the tyres on the first lap wasn’t easy,” Hamilton said.
“But it was a really great job by the team. I’m so happy with the performance in terms of us getting us out on time. Tomorrow is going to be difficult, but I’ll give it everything.”
Hamilton headed into Turkey holding a two-point lead over Verstappen, but his 10-place grid drop has handed the Red Bull driver an opportunity to retake the lead in the drivers’ championship.
But despite Istanbul offering chances to overtake, Hamilton fears he could become stuck in a train of cars as he attempts to recover through the field.
“It’s not the easiest for overtaking and we are all on the same tyres as well, so I imagine it’s going to be difficult to move up,” Hamilton said.
“You saw in the last race with Max that it got difficult to move up when he got to six place or something, and vice versa,” he added. “But we’ve got the long straight at the back. Hopefully we can give the fans here a great race.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff agreed with Hamilton’s view that making up places in Sunday’s race would be a “tough one”.
“On the negative side it’s a weekend where we could have had a front row lockout and we haven’t,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
“He needs to go to back and it’s not going to be easy with all the cars running medium in front of him apart from Tsunoda. Progress will be a tough one.”
Asked whether Mercedes’ pace advantage would be enough to make a difference, Wolff said: “I hope so but yesterday in the long run at a certain stage we were behind a Haas and also a Williams, so it was very difficult to come close.
“I guess that strategy is going to be the one that helps.”