Here's what to look out for in Formula 1's 2021 Turkish Grand Prix…

Bottas’ chance to end his drought

With Lewis Hamilton serving a 10-place grid penalty due to his engine penalty, Valtteri Bottas has inherited pole in Turkey - his first since Portimao earlier this year.

Remarkably, Bottas hasn’t won since Russia last year and he hasn’t come close to doing so in 2021.

The imperious form of Hamilton and Max Verstappen has made it difficult for the Finn, but Turkey is his best chance of a victory so far this season.

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The Mercedes W12 is the superior package this weekend and with teammate Hamilton down in 11th, the reigning world champions can focus its efforts on Bottas and ensuring he takes crucial points off Verstappen while aiding its bid in winning another constructors' title.

Bottas is often at his best when leading into Turn 1 - should he do so, then the race victory is in hands, especially if Hamilton struggles to make his way through the field.

If Bottas is leading and Hamilton recovers to second on track, we might hear another “Valtteri, it’s James” message.

Is Hamilton still in contention?

You can never rule out a seven-time champion as Hamilton will look to win the Turkish Grand Prix for a third time from 11th on the grid.

The Mercedes driver has been in magnificent form all weekend so seeing him cut his way through the field should be an exciting watch. 

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Mercedes struggled in traffic at Sochi but fared significantly better a race prior at Monza when Bottas went from the back of the grid to the podium.

Hamilton has already revealed Mercedes hasn’t specifically set up its car for the race - or at least - overtaking cars with ease. 

“Standard set-up, I mean not standard, it’s a special set-up obviously, but yeah just the same,” Hamilton said in the post-qualifying press conference. “We pretty much have the same car.

Realistically, it’s going to be tricky for Hamilton to win, but a timely Safety Car or crazy weather could give him what he needs to get in the mix.

The good news for Hamilton is that his teammate is on pole, rather than his main title rival. 

The frantic midfield

The midfield battle is as tight as ever with Ferrari, AlphaTauri, Alpine and McLaren all in contention for that ‘best of the rest’ spot. 

Charles Leclerc pulled out yet another storming lap to qualify third (after Hamilton’s penalty), while Pierre Gasly has shown outstanding pace all weekend.

Fernando Alonso continues to deliver for Alpine, getting ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez on the grid in the dying moments of Q3. 

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Perez and Hamilton will have to make their way through these aforementioned drivers so expect the midfield battle to be as frantic as ever.

One-stop versus two-stop 

Unexpected levels of grip from Istanbul Park’s track surface means Pirelli’s tyre allocation of C2-C3-C4 seems to be more aggressive than it first expected.

The good news is that we might have a two-stop race on our hands.

“Not really sure, we’ll have to be dynamic to the situation,” George Russell explained “Nobody knows whether it will be a one-stop, two-stop, or if the soft or hard tyres will hold on. It will be a tricky race.”

The whole of the top 10 - excluding Yuki Tsunoda - qualified on the medium tyre.

In theory, the teams will look to switch onto the hards after 20 laps or so but given a lack of rubber laid down on the track due to intermittent showers on Saturday and Sunday morning may mean tyre wear and graining is a significant factor in the race. 

Due to the difficulties in overtaking in modern F1, teams will most likely favour a one-stop strategy.