Max Verstappen fumed at "stupid idiot" Lewis Hamilton and aimed a middle-finger salute at his title rival in a heated United States Grand Prix session.

The fight for the Formula One title intensified when the pair came close to making contact during FP2 at the Circuit of The Americas on Friday.

Championship leader Verstappen snapped over the team radio after going wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton, saying: "Ha! Stupid idiot!" and making his feelings clear with a gesture to the Mercedes driver.

A Red Bull engineer told Verstappen to "ignore it" as the Dutchman endured a frustrating day, having been caught in traffic at the start of the mid-session short runs.

He could only finish down in eighth in the second session as Sergio Perez set the pace, with Hamilton third behind Lando Norris.

Valtteri Bottas topped the timesheets in the first session, but will take a five-place grid penalty in Austin after having a sixth engine of the season – with three being the limit – fitted and a sixth exhaust.

Silver Arrows team principal Toto Wolff says there is a risk that Hamilton, who trails Verstappen by only six points, could take another grid penalty this season

He added: "I can't say whether we will be taking one and what the percentage is, but obviously the risk is still there.

"What is difficult to evaluate is do you want to pre-empt the situation and take another penalty and take the hit or do you want to really run it and possibly risk a DNF, and that is a discussion that is happening as we speak, and we haven’t come to the right answers yet."

Williams driver George Russell, Bottas' replacement at Mercedes for 2022, and Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel will start on the back row after they had multiple new engine parts fitted.

Valtteri Bottas, George Russell and Sebastian Vettel have taken grid penalties for the United States Grand Prix this weekend.

Bottas won in Turkey last time out, but a repeat would appear unlikely at the Circuit of The Americas on Sunday after the Mercedes driver had a sixth engine of the season – with three being the limit – fitted and a sixth exhaust.

The Finn, who sits third in the driver standings and was fastest in the first practice session on Friday, will take a five-place penalty for the race in Austin.

Silver Arrows team principal Toto Wolff said: "I think you see that we are suffering with reliability this year, we're going onto the sixth engine for Valtteri, and it is not something we choose to do, but on the contrary; we are trying to really get on top of the problems, and we haven't understood fully [what they are]."

Wolff says there is a risk that Lewis Hamilton could take another grid penalty this season as he battles for the title with Max Verstappen.

He added: "I can't say whether we will be taking one and what the percentage is, but obviously the risk is still there.

"What is difficult to evaluate is do you want to pre-empt the situation and take another penalty and take the hit or do you want to really run it and possibly risk a DNF, and that is a discussion that is happening as we speak, and we haven’t come to the right answers yet."

Williams driver Russell, Bottas' replacement at Mercedes for 2022, and Aston Martin's Vettel will start on the back row after they had multiple new engine parts fitted.

Hamilton was 0.045 seconds slower than his team-mate Bottas in FP1, with his championship rival Verstappen third-quickest – almost a second slower than Bottas.

Lewis Hamilton will look to bounce back from frustration in Turkey as he returns to one of his favourite tracks at the United States Grand Prix this week.

The drivers' championship battle between Hamilton and Max Verstappen continues to be closely fought, with just six races left in the 2021 season.

Red Bull driver Verstappen moved back into the lead in Istanbul and comes to Austin with a six-point advantage over Hamilton, who is seeking a record-breaking eighth world title.

Hamilton took an engine penalty in Turkey and limited the damage to his rival, but was frustrated with his own team over a strategy call that he felt may have cost him a podium.

The trip to the USA therefore comes at a good time for the Briton, who has won this race a record six times.

Only in Hungary, Great Britain (both eight) and Canada (seven) has Hamilton won more times and he did not have the chance to add to his tally in 2020 as the event was not held due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hamilton has eight podiums from his nine USA races, and the only time he did not make the top three he still finished fourth in 2013.

He also sealed the third and sixth of his seven world titles in Austin, his 2015 race win and second-place finish in 2019 giving him those successes.

While Verstappen leads the drivers' battle, Mercedes do still top the constructors' standings and will hope a resurgent Valtteri Bottas can help Hamilton to continue the team's strong track record at the venue.

 

LAST TIME OUT

Strategy was key in wet conditions at the Turkish Grand Prix, with Hamilton left frustrated by Mercedes' decision to pit late and help Verstappen, who ended up in second place, reclaim the championship lead.

Having been fastest in qualifying but handed a 10-place grid penalty due to his engine change, Hamilton saw team-mate Bottas start in first place.

It was a lead Bottas only relinquished briefly to Charles Leclerc, though the Finn regained it with a brilliant move on the inside of the Ferrari with 11 laps remaining to claim his first win of the season.

Hamilton's decision to hold off pitting in the wet conditions was what prompted debate between driver and the Mercedes pit wall.

Well in the hunt for a podium place in the 51st lap, Hamilton was finally instructed to come in which meant he was forced to settle for fifth behind Bottas, Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Leclerc.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT IN USA

Hamilton's fine record in the United States means it is he who goes into the race weekend as the narrow favourite to strike the next blow in a thrilling title battle on Sunday.

Verstappen has solid form at the Circuit of the Americas too, though, with past finishes of second, third and fourth.

The Dutchman is optimistic of taking the fight to Mercedes as he targets a first Austin win, as he looks to end a run of three races without a victory in 2021.

That title race will again be the main focus, with both Mercedes and Red Bull hoping their second drivers can get in on the action to help Hamilton and Verstappen respectively.

Bottas claimed his first win of the year last time out and has three podiums from his last four outings, while Perez finally ended a miserable eight-race run without a top-three finish in Turkey.

Lando Norris is one point away from matching his total from the 2019 and 2020 seasons combined and will hope McLaren can be more competitive this week. 

They are locked in a close battle with Ferrari for third place in the constructors' championship, with the British team just 7.5 points ahead of their Italian rivals.

 

TOP FIVE OPTA FACTS

Qualifying key - The past 10 winners of the United States Grand Prix came from the first row of the grid - six from pole position and four from second place.

Fond memories – The last time F1 raced in the United States (2019), Hamilton reached his 150th career podium. He has since moved on to 176 top-three finishes, an F1 record total.

Bottas barrier – The Finn is looking to get a pole position and race win double in consecutive grands prix, a feat he has never achieved before. He did get pole and win the race at the 2019 edition of this event. 

Mercedes mark – The team have six poles in their last six races in the United States and another here would see them equal Ferrari on seven poles in the country. Only Lotus (10) have recorded more than Ferrari.

Austin aces – Mercedes have had a podium finisher in each of the last six USA races, winning five of those events and finishing with a one-two in four of them, including the last one in 2019.
 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 262.5
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 256.5
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 177
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) 145
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 135

Constructors

1. Mercedes 433.5
2. Red Bull 397.5
3. McLaren 240
4. Ferrari 232.5
5. Alpine 104

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has explained why Lewis Hamilton was forced to replace his engine and take a grid penalty on Sunday, refusing to rule out a repeat before the end of the season.

The Briton's 10-place penalty after topping qualifying contributed to a fifth-place finish at the Turkish Grand Prix, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas winning and title rival Max Verstappen finishing second to move six points clear of Hamilton in the championship standings.

However, Wolff revealed that the team felt they had no choice but to take a new Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) due to issues with Hamilton's previous power unit.

He insisted there had been no tactical timing to the decision, which was needed for technical reasons.

"We had to do it," Wolff told Sky Sports. "We saw some data on the Internal Combustion unit that didn't look very promising and a DNF is a total killer for the championship.

"We've seen over the course of the season that we've had some little gremlins that we weren't completely sure where they came from and how much performance they could potentially cost.

"So we'd rather have a new engine in the pool and that we understand that can possibly go longer.

"I think we understand much better now where the root cause lies and it's something that can happen from time to time if you just have a material issue, a batch problem and these are the things you need to consider."

The replacement power unit was Hamilton's fourth of the season, but Wolff suggested that it was not beyond the realms of possibility that he would be forced to take a fifth before the end of the campaign.

"The fourth one can last until the end of the season but there could be a moment where we say is it worth taking a fresh one because the other one is still at risk," Wolff continued.

"So this is something that is going to be really a work in progress."

There are six races to go in the 2021 Formula One season, a run that starts with the United States Grand Prix - an event Hamilton has won a record six times - on October 24.

Lewis Hamilton has denied being "furious" with Mercedes over the decision to pull him in for a pit stop late on in Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion had climbed from 11th in the grid to third when called by his team to switch onto intermediate tyres on the wet surface.

Hamilton seemed determined to finish the race on the same tyres, but on lap 51 out of 58 the Briton heeded his team's call and dropped to fifth, where he finished the race.

He made his apparent frustration clear at the time, saying over the team radio: "Why did you give up that place? We shouldn't have come in."

However, Hamilton feels the disagreement has been blown out of proportion, even if he accepts lessons can be learned.

"I've seen some of the press this morning, which has made a bit too much of the incident in yesterday's race of when to pit," he posted on his personal Instagram account.

"It isn't true to say I'm furious with my team. 

"As a team we work hard to build the best strategy possible but as the race progresses you have to make split decisions there are so many factors constantly changing.

"Yesterday we took the risk to stay out hoping it would dry, it didn't. I wanted to risk it and try and go to the end, but it was my call to stay out and it didn't work. 

"In the end we did pit and it was the safest thing to do. We live and we learn. We win and we lose as a team. 

"Don't ever expect me to be all polite and calm on the radio when I'm racing, we are all very passionate and in the heat of the moment that passion can come out, as it does for all drivers.

"My heart and spirit are out there on the track, it's the fire in me that's got me this far but any angst is quickly forgotten and we talked it through, already looking ahead to the next race. 

"Today's another day to rise and as a team. Still we rise."

Hamilton, who qualified fastest but was handed a 10-place grid penalty due to an engine change, is now six points behind championship leader Max Verstappen.

Verstappen finished second in Istanbul, with Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas claiming victory, and the Dutchman acknowledges Red Bull have a lot more work to do if he is to claim a first Formula One world title.

"Of course overall I think we have been at tracks that naturally were a bit better for Mercedes, but then this track was a bit unknown, and clearly they were ahead of us," he told Sky Sports.

"I do think we need to step it up a bit to be in the fight until the end of the season."

Lewis Hamilton cut a frustrated figure over Mercedes' decision to pull him in for a pit stop late in the Turkish Grand Prix.

Hamilton seemed determined to finish the race in the rain in Istanbul on the same set of tyres, turning down several calls for him to pit.

Finally, on the 51st lap out of 58, Hamilton – who at the time was in third place having started 11th on the grid due to the 10-place penalty he took into the weekend for changing engine – heeded his team's call to come in to switch onto intermediate tyres.

Yet as the seven-time world champion came back out, he had fallen to fifth place, much to his annoyance.

"Why did you give up that place?" Hamilton questioned over the radio, as he was forced to hold off Pierre Gasly to finish fifth, behind Charles Leclerc, Red Bull duo Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who cruised to his first race victory of 2021.

Esteban Ocon finished within the top 10 having not changed tyres at all, and Hamilton was in a prickly mood when interviewed by Sky Sports.

Asked if he was aware he would drop down two places when he went into the pits, Hamilton said: "I didn't know at that time, I could probably have assumed that I would.

"The guys were only 15 seconds behind, it's a 24-second pit stop so I knew that I'd lose perhaps one."

Of the initial tyres potentially lasting the whole race, Hamilton added: "Ocon's did I heard so I assume they probably could.

"The tyres are bald so you don't know how far they're going to go so there's definitely the worry of the life of the tyre but also I wasn't really that fast at the end there.

"I was struggling, had little grip, not really sure why. Then all of a sudden I'd have not such a bad pace but I was losing performance to the guys behind."

Hamilton acknowledged he may have made an error not coming in for a pit earlier in the race, when Mercedes initially advised, but he believes the wrong call was made to switch so late.

"In hindsight I should have either stayed out or come in much earlier," he said. "When you come in with eight laps to go you don't have time to go through the draining phase of that medium tyre on a drying track.

"So I went through this whole sliding change where I nearly lost more positions. A bit frustrated but it is what it is. 

"It felt good to be in third and I thought if I could just hold onto this it's a great result from 11th. Fifth is worse, but it could be worse."

There was an eight-point swing in the championship title race, with Verstappen now six ahead of Hamilton heading into the United States Grand Prix in two weeks' time.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, however, insisted the correct call was made.

"[Pitting earlier] would have been better than what we ended up with. But it was measured and in the car, he didn't see how much he was dropping off. It was clear that had he stayed out then he would have lost out to Gasly," he told Sky Sports.

"The correct call would probably have been taking it very conservative and pitting when everybody else pitted for the inters, coming out behind Perez and Leclerc and fighting with them for P3. That was probably correct, but that is only with hindsight."

Lewis Hamilton was left frustrated by Mercedes' decision to pit late during the Turkish Grand Prix, helping Max Verstappen take over the Formula One championship lead in Istanbul.

Hamilton had claimed pole in qualifying but was handed a 10-place grid penalty due to an engine change, meaning Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas started in first place.

It was a lead Bottas only relinquished briefly to Charles Leclerc, though the Finn regained it with a brilliant move on the inside of the Ferrari with 11 laps remaining to ensure his first win of the season.

With Verstappen claiming second, it was Hamilton's decision to hold off pitting in the wet conditions that proved crucial in the title race.

Well in the hunt for a podium place at the time, Hamilton was finally instructed to come in by Mercedes on the 51st lap.

Yet the decision to switch to intermediate tyres did not pay off, with Hamilton left furious with his team, stating: "Why did you give up that place?”.

While one half of the Mercedes garage will be left pondering their decision, the other was celebrating a flawless drive from Bottas, who endured a miserable race in Turkey last year.

Behind Bottas, it was a fantastic outing for Red Bull, with Verstappen securing a six-point lead over Hamilton in the championship standings and Sergio Perez completing the podium places.

Hamilton ultimately finished fifth, holding off Gasly but unable to gain ground on Leclerc, who missed out on the top three after pitting late on himself.

Perez and Hamilton do battle

Hamilton thought he had nipped ahead of Perez heading into lap 35, with the pair going wheel-to-wheel for five corners in a fantastic tussle.

Though Hamilton had the faster acceleration, Perez pushed at Turn One to regain the place and even though the Red Bull driver subsequently pitted, he had done enough to keep the seven-time world champion at bay and hand Verstappen a real boost.

Alonso hits out at Gasly

Fernando Alonso made a strong start in Istanbul, but he found himself spinning off the track on the first corner after a clip from Pierre Gasly.

By the time he rectified the situation, Alonso had dropped from fifth to 15th. Gasly, for his part, explained that he got "sandwiched", though the Frenchman was nevertheless handed a five-second penalty that cost him a place in the top five.

Lewis Hamilton is refusing to write off his chances of another Turkish Grand Prix win despite serving a 10-place grid penalty after qualifying fastest.

The Mercedes superstar had to hand over pole position to team-mate Valtteri Bottas following an engine change this week.

It means Hamilton, who comes into Sunday's race two points ahead of Max Verstappen, must start from 11th, denying him a 102nd pole at a 31st different circuit.

Only one of his 100 Formula One victories have come behind the front three rows – starting from 14th in Germany in 2018 – although one of his two triumphs from sixth came at this event last year. That was the sole example of a Turkish GP win from beyond the front row.

"I was already third at the end of Turn 1 last year, so that made a bit of a difference," Hamilton told Sky Sports on Saturday. "But it's a much, much different weekend, a much different track grip.

"My eyes are still solely set on winning the race; it's going to be very hard from 11th but not impossible. We're just making sure we'll deliver maximum attack tomorrow."

Bottas, the beneficiary of Hamilton's switch, acknowledged Saturday could not have gone any better for Mercedes.

"Obviously, as a team result, it was as we planned," he said. "Lewis, with his penalty, now gets the minimum penalty he can, and I'm on pole, so it should be good."

But Bottas insisted he was not instructed to slow down in order to allow Hamilton to secure the fastest time, having him start from 11th instead of 12th.

"No, I wasn't asked to slow down, and I was definitely going for it," said the Finn, who will leave for Alfa Romeo at the end of the season.

"I started to struggle a bit with the front end in the last sector, so I just had some understeer in Turn 12 and 14. I could feel I was losing a bit of time.

"I probably used the tyres a bit earlier in the lap. I was fully going for it, for sure."

Valtteri Bottas will focus on making the most of starting the Turkish Grand Prix from pole position, and not on the fortunes of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas just missed out on setting the fastest time in Istanbul on Saturday, with championship leader Hamilton claiming top spot.

However, Hamilton will start in 11th due to a penalty incurred from an engine change heading into the weekend, meaning Bottas is promoted to first on the grid.

Seven out of the eight winners in Turkey have come from the first grid line, with the only exception coming last year when Hamilton triumphed from sixth place.

Hamilton's title rival Max Verstappen will start in second place and has a real chance to regain the championship lead, as he trails by only two points as it stands – the finest margin after 15 races of a season since 2006.

Asked where his priorities would sit heading into Sunday's race, Bottas said: "I'll focus on my own race tomorrow, I think that's the way to go when you're starting in front and try to keep up a good pace."

Of the session, the Finn, who is leaving Mercedes at the end of 2021, said: "It was good. Not easy conditions, especially Q1 was a bit on the edge with damp parts and still Q3, the first corner was a bit damp but also Turn 3 and 4. But also some good laps.

"As a team result, that's really gone to plan. Lewis with his penalty gets the minimum penalty he can, and I'm on pole, so that should be good."

Hamilton is anticipating a tough ask to challenge for a podium place.

"It was a really tricky session in general," Hamilton said.

"There were still some damp patches and getting the temperature in the tyres for the first lap wasn't easy, but a really great job by the team, 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."

Hamilton claimed his 100th race win last time out in Russia, and he added: "It's not the easiest overtaking at the moment, and we're all on the same tyres as well. I imagine tomorrow's going to be difficult to move up. You saw in the last race what happened with Max once he got behind sixth place or something and vice versa for me also.

"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."

Despite spinning off the track at one stage in the session, Charles Leclerc recovered to take P4, and the Ferrari driver will start in third place behind Verstappen, who was pleased with his performance after a difficult Friday practice.

"It was quite tricky at the beginning with the conditions, but compared to yesterday we actually managed to turn it around quite well," said Verstappen. He is hunting his eighth win of the season, which would also see him equal Nigel Mansell as the driver with the second most victories with a Honda engine (13), behind the late Ayrton Senna (32).

"The laps overall were quite good, even if we lost a bit down the straight on the last, we have to look into that, but of course it was not the lap I needed to fight for pole," Verstappen added.

"Overall I'm very happy. We'll try to pick up as many points as we can."

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:22:868 *
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0:130
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0:328
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0:397
5. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +0:458
6. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0:609
7. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0:838
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1:086
9. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +1:437
10. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +1:500

*Hamilton will serve 10-place grid penalty

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will take a 10-place grid penalty at the Turkish Grand Prix after having a new engine fitted in his Mercedes.

Hamilton on Thursday stated that he did not envisage having a fresh power unit for the race at Istanbul Park this weekend.

The Silver Arrows on Friday confirmed seven-time Formula One world champion Hamilton will take a penalty, with the new engine taking him over the permitted allowance of three for the season.

Hamilton leads Max Verstappen by only two points in the battle for the title, so the Red Bull driver will have a great chance to regain the lead on Sunday.

Verstappen worked his way from the back of the grid to finish second at the Russian Grand Prix last time out after the Dutchman took an engine penalty.

Briton Hamilton won in Turkey last year after starting in sixth place, sealing a record-equalling seventh title. 

Carlos Sainz will also have to work his way from the back of the grid with a new power unit in his Ferrari.

Max Verstappen insists he is not under any pressure to win the Formula One title this season as the Red Bull driver does not believe it will change his life.

The Dutchman trails Lewis Hamilton by two points after 15 races – the smallest margin between the top two at this point since 2006 when Fernando Alonso scrapped it out with Michael Schumacher.

Verstappen recovered from the back of the grid to finish second to seven-time world champion Hamilton in Russia two weeks ago and is seeking his eighth race victory of 2021 at Istanbul Park on Sunday.

Hamilton previously suggested Verstappen would be feeling the pressure as the title race hots up, but the 24-year-old has stressed that is not the case as finishing second would still be an achievement in its own right.

"I always do my best and I know that the team is also doing the best they can," he said at a news conference on Thursday.

"And if that's going to be first at the end of the year – that's of course an amazing achievement and that's what we work for, right?

"But, even if we would finish second, I think we'd still have had a great season. And at the end of the day it's not really going to change my life.

"I mean, I enjoy what I'm doing, and I think that's also very important. For me, there is not much to worry about really."

Verstappen started from the back of the grid in Russia after Red Bull opted to have a new engine installed.

Hamilton may face a similar handicap this weekend as Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff revealed a fourth engine of the season could be fitted to the Briton's car.

That would take the championship leader over the permitted allowance and leave him starting at the back of the grid, but Verstappen will only focus on his own race regardless of where his rival is positioned.

"At the end of the day, I can't control what they're doing," he told Sky Sports. 

"It's more important to focus on ourselves and then try to get the best out of that and try to score as many points as possible every single weekend. And, of course, I will try to do that again."

With eight wins this year, Red Bull are one victory away from equalling their third-best season (nine in 2010). 

They have only surpassed that in 2011 (12) and 2013 (13), while they have already matched their best total of pole positions (eight) with seven more races in the calendar.

Lewis Hamilton does not expect to take an engine penalty at the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff revealed that a fourth engine of the season could be fitted to Hamilton's car ahead of the race at Istanbul Park on Sunday.

That would take the championship leader over the permitted allowance and leave him starting at the back of the grid.

Hamilton does not envisage that happening this week, but is not entirely ruling it out.

He said in a press conference on Thursday: "At the moment, I still have number two and three.

"So I don't envisage us having to take one at the moment, but that could change. Who knows?"

Hamilton leads Max Verstappen by only two points in a thrilling title battle and the 36-year-old says off-track interests help him to switch off as the pressure builds.

"I genuinely find it easy because I have these other outlets so I'm able to blow off steam in lots of different ways," Hamilton said.

"The most important thing is always to be able to come back into the racing environment fresh, recovered, positive and not really having any worries.

"So I think I’m able to arrive and just love doing my job. So we just take it one weekend at a time and one race at a time, just always trying to elevate.

"I've spent plenty of time speaking to the team about how we can advance and improve but I've been doing this a long time so I’ve found ways personally [of coping].

"What works for me personally won’t work for everyone but I've found a way that I know how I tick, what gets me on course and what can put me off course, so I stick to them."

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will renew their thrilling Formula One world title battle at the Turkish Grand Prix this week.

The Mercedes driver leads his Red Bull rival by two points, the smallest margin between the top two after 15 races since 2006, when Fernando Alonso had the same narrow lead in his famous scrap with Michael Schumacher.

This week will mark five years since Nico Rosberg claimed his last pole position and race victory. 

He is the last person other than Hamilton to win the drivers' championship, but the Briton knows he still has much more work to do if he is to stop Verstappen from ending that run with seven races to go.

The latest instalment of the rivalry will take place at Istanbul Park in an event which returned to the F1 calendar after a nine-year absence last year.

Verstappen is looking to win his eighth race of 2021. Apart from when Hamilton lost out to Rosberg in 2016, every other driver who has won that amount of races has gone on to be crowned champion.
 

LAST TIME OUT

It was an incredible race in Russia, with Hamilton ultimately claiming his 100th Formula One victory, having failed in his previous four attempts to reach the milestone.

Lando Norris had secured pole position and was eyeing a maiden victory, but he spun off the track with three laps to go after opting not to pit for new tyres as rain started to cause chaos in Sochi.

That allowed Hamilton to capitalise and McLaren were left heartbroken as Norris limped to a seventh-placed finish after coming so close to following up team-mate Daniel Ricciardo's win in Italy with one of his own.

The drama in front meant Verstappen made up important ground to finish second, an unlikely bonus after he started from the back of the grid when Red Bull had a new engine installed.

Carlos Sainz claimed the final spot on the podium, with Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and Alonso rounding out the top six.
 

WHAT TO EXPECT IN TURKEY

Turkey is one of just four out of 34 F1 venues where Hamilton is yet to claim a pole position, but he has won here twice, including a famous win in the wet last year that clinched his seventh championship.

His chances of repeating the feat this week may depend on whether he opts to receive a grid penalty for taking a new power unit, which Toto Wolff has suggested could be a possibility.

Should Hamilton triumph, he will equal Felipe Massa's F1 record of three victories in Turkey.

But there are other teams getting involved at the front which could provide an added complication to the championship contenders.

McLaren won in Monza and almost repeated the feat in Russia, with they and Ferrari – who have recently introduced an upgraded power unit with a new hybrid system - picking up some impressive results.

Having served his penalty and impressively limited the damage last time out, though, it is Verstappen who goes into the race weekend as narrow favourite for victory.
 

TOP FIVE OPTA FACTS

Grid position key - Seven out of eight winners in Turkey have come from the first row of the grid, with the only exception last year when Hamilton won from sixth place. Only in Germany three years ago has the Brit recorded a F1 victory from a worse starting position (14th).

Fine track for Ferrari – The Italian team have won most races in Turkey (three), achieved eight podiums, set three fastest laps and taken three pole positions.

Red Bull run – With eight wins this year, the team are one victory away from equalling their third-best season (nine in 2010). They have only surpassed that in 2011 (12) and 2013 (13), while they have already matched their best total of pole positions (eight).

McLaren impress – Having set two straight fastest laps (Ricciardo in Italy and Norris in Russia), the team could set three in a row for the first time since 2011 when Hamilton and Jenson Button were their drivers.

Hamilton could level up – If the seven-time world champion wins without being on pole, he will equal up his record of wins to pole at 101 for each category –  this would be the first time they have been the same since 2007, when he went 2-2 at the United States Grand Prix.
 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 246.5
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 244.5
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 151
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) 139
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 120

Constructors

1. Mercedes 397.5
2. Red Bull 364.5
3. McLaren 234
4. Ferrari 216.5
5. Alpine 103

Lewis Hamilton could start the Turkish Grand Prix at the back of the grid on Sunday as Mercedes are considering taking an engine penalty for the Formula One championship leader.

Seven-time F1 world champion Hamilton leads Max Verstappen by two points in the battle for the title after winning a dramatic Russian Grand Prix to secure his 100th race victory last month.

Verstappen worked his way through the field from the back to finish second after the Red Bull driver had a new power unit fitted in Sochi

Hamilton may face the same challenge at Istanbul Park as his team mull over whether to fit his car with a fourth engine of the season, which would take him over the permitted allowance.

Asked if the Silver Arrows could take the penalty this weekend, team principal Toto Wolff told Sky Sports News: "It's a possibility."

Although the German added: "When, and how, is not yet decided."

Wolff says it is vital Mercedes avoid putting Hamilton in a position where he is danger of not finishing a race.

"Most important is that you don't DNF because of a reliability issue," said Wolff.

"You can cope with swings, whether you finish second, third, I think that is okay, the championship is going to go long. But if you don't finish...

"So we are looking at the parameters of the engines, making sure we don't suffer from any reliability problems."

Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas started in 17th in Sochi after taking an engine penalty.

Max Verstappen believes Red Bull made a perfect call to switch tyres as he went from last on the grid to finish second at the Russian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton claimed his 100th Formula One triumph in Sunday's race in Sochi, the reigning world champion passing Lando Norris, who saw his chances of clinching victory from his maiden pole slip away when he lost control in the rain with just three laps to go.

Hamilton's win moves him ahead of Verstappen in the championship standings, but the Dutchman ensured the gap is only two points as he charged up to second.

Verstappen had started at the back of the grid after Red Bull installed a new engine to his car, though he said the key to his podium finish was a decision to switch to intermediate tyres as the rain closed in.

"I'm super happy of course to be second," Verstappen said.

"If you would have told me this morning that I would come second today, I wouldn't believe you. But luckily the call to go from the slicks to the inters was the perfect one I think, the right lap. Super pleased for this.

"When the rain came, I think at the end of the day we made the right call and the right lap to box, because the lap before, probably if we would have boxed, I would have destroyed the inters in that one or two laps because of it still being a bit too dry for two-thirds of the track.

"So to basically go from seventh to second for us was an amazing result."

Reflecting on what Hamilton's landmark win means for the title race, Verstappen added: "It could of course have been a lot worse in terms of how many points I would lose.

"Especially also with the conditions, it's already very hard to pass. But then also today because of track conditions and whatever, the tyres were graining a lot, so you also couldn't really push or stay close to someone. All in all to come away with second here was, of course, very important."

Norris, meanwhile, was left to lament his misfortune as the win slipped from his grasp.

"I don't know where to start," said Norris, who ultimately finished seventh and took responsibility for the decision not to switch to intermediate tyres.

"Obviously unhappy, devastated in a way. I guess we made a call to stay out; we stand by that call but it was the wrong one at the end of the day.

"I made a decision just as much as the team. In fact, it was more they thought I should box and I decided to stay out. So, my decision – I thought it was the way to go.

"I think I had the confidence beforehand. I knew I was capable of doing it, I've felt capable of doing it for a while so I don't think that’s really changed. Just a bit of heartbreak.

"I felt like I did everything I could, even when it got tricky at the end."

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