Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Istanbul Park, 2020

Verstappen quickest but very slippery track slows lap times by 10 seconds

2020 Turkish Grand Prix first practice

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Formula 1 drivers lapped over 10 seconds off track record pace in the the first session at a newly-resurfaced and very slippery Istanbul Park.

New asphalt had been laid at the Turkish venue within the last fortnight, leaving it very green for F1’s return. Drivers observed yesterday how dirty the surface was during their track walks.

The track operators dumped large quantities of water on the track to wash ahead of practice, meaning the session started with several damp areas on the start/finish straight, particularly at turn one and turn nine.

The first driver out on track, Max Verstappen, immediately told his team on the radio the conditions were “like driving on ice.”

Less than five minutes into the session Charles Leclerc knocked over the pit lane entry bollard. The session was red-flagged so it could be retrieved and bolts removed.

A tentative return to running saw Valtteri Bottas as the only man to head back out on track, sliding even on the pit lane exit and being told by his engineer that tyre temperatures were 20C below the window they needed to be in.

Several drivers who attempted running abandoned it, Pierre Gasly telling his engineer that “this has been a good first experience of rallycross” while Kevin Magnussen reported conditions as “insane”.

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Carlos Sainz Jnr was called in on his second run, to investigate an electrical problem on his power unit. The team attempted a fix in the garage but after Sainz went back out on track, he almost immediately had to pull over and switch the car off, prompting a short Virtual Safety Car period while marshals retrieved it.

Despite frequent driver radio complaints, most cars returned to the track for longer runs in the final half-hour of the session as tyre temperatures improved. Lap times fell quickly, from the high 1’40 mark to 1’35s.

Alexander Albon led the session for most of the final 15 minutes but he was pipped to the top time by team mate Verstappen at the chequered flag.

Lap times were over 10 seconds off Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2005 record, and nearly as far away from the pole position time for the last Turkish Grand Prix, Vettel’s 1’25.049. The first practice lap times were more comparable to GP2’s last times here, when Romain Grosjean took pole with a 1’34.398, showing just how severe the lack of grip was.

Lewis Hamilton did not set a time until late in the, eventually finishing 15th fastest and more than five seconds back from Verstappen’s time.

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2020 Turkish Grand Prix First Practice classification

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
133Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’35.07728
223Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’35.3180.24126
316Charles LeclercFerrari1’35.5070.43025
410Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’35.5430.46625
55Sebastian VettelFerrari1’35.6200.54329
626Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda1’36.7381.66126
74Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’37.2162.13921
899Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’37.5032.42620
977Valtteri BottasMercedes1’37.6292.55222
1031Esteban OconRenault1’38.4283.35122
116Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’38.5083.43117
1211Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’38.6123.53521
1318Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’39.4844.40720
148Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’40.0254.94824
1544Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’40.2255.14811
167Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’41.0355.95822
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’41.8546.77720
183Daniel RicciardoRenault1’45.15610.07919
1955Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’46.46211.38512
2063George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’49.25614.17916

First practice visual gaps

Max Verstappen – 1’35.077

+0.241 Alexander Albon – 1’35.318

+0.430 Charles Leclerc – 1’35.507

+0.466 Pierre Gasly – 1’35.543

+0.543 Sebastian Vettel – 1’35.620

+1.661 Daniil Kvyat – 1’36.738

+2.139 Lando Norris – 1’37.216

+2.426 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’37.503

+2.552 Valtteri Bottas – 1’37.629

+3.351 Esteban Ocon – 1’38.428

+3.431 Nicholas Latifi – 1’38.508

+3.535 Sergio Perez – 1’38.612

+4.407 Lance Stroll – 1’39.484

+4.948 Romain Grosjean – 1’40.025

+5.148 Lewis Hamilton – 1’40.225

+5.958 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’41.035

+6.777 Kevin Magnussen – 1’41.854

+10.079 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’45.156

+11.385 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’46.462

+14.179 George Russell – 1’49.256

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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    Author information

    Hazel Southwell
    Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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    22 comments on “Verstappen quickest but very slippery track slows lap times by 10 seconds”

    1. Even worse than in Portugal, LOL. The track conditions will improve over the event, though, I’m positive about this.

      1. Sat/Sun temps will be lower than Portugal’s though

        The weather is notoriously fickle at this time of the year in Istanbul – could be that we have conditions nearer to that of the Nurburgring. That’d lead to some fun

    2. Funny, the time dificit with 2011 was the first thing I checked. Ten seconds, wow. Take into account that the cars must be at least five seconds faster than in 2011 due to downforce and bigger wheels. This session was pretty useless in terms of setup I assume.

    3. Why were there no radio messages played about state of the circuit, considering how little grip drivers had? #wecensorasone?

      1. Because you weren’t listening? Several such messages were played, Max and Lando saying it was like driving on ice.

        Also not sure who this proposed censorship would be in favour of?

      2. #werecordangryteamradiosasone?

    4. There’s a fine line between seeing cars sliding around which i love and what we saw this morning which was just like doing the skiddy bus thing on a water sprayed car park. Great to see the car control but we want it at 150mph rather than 50mph.

      Could mix the grid up, we can vainly hope, or see the best drivers able to handle it better. Interesting to see both RBR’s at the top of the sheet, maybe as the RBR is usually this unpredictable they are used to it. Certainly the 2 in the usually planted Mercedes are not .

    5. Surely our Turkish friends could have obliged by laying the asphalt some time ago when the event was inked into the schedule. This won’t rubber in properly till the last ten laps of the race.

      1. Good! :)
        That’s almost the perfect time for the surface to become boring and predictable.

        1. I know right. Racings predictable blah blah, hay its unpredictable blah blah.

    6. Why do they keep doing this! Who decides whether a track needs resurfacing? Is it something the FIA insist on, or the track owners.

      1. At both Portimao and Istanbul it was because the previous surface would have been undriveable in F1 cars. Even GT cars were bumpy at Portimao and it would have destroyed suspension quickly – likewise it had been close to 10 years since the last resurfacing at Istanbul.

        What’s unusual is that normally you’d have track days and other races bedding a new surface in before F1 arrived but of course that’s not really been the case in 2020. (F1 actually bedded Portimao in for ELMS…)

        1. why didn’t the resurface happen much sooner though?

          1. Global pandemic old boy, you not heard?

          2. Because they didn’t know they would host a F1 race this year till a few months ago and doing resurfacing of a F1 track does take a little bit of planning and time.

        2. It’s also far harder to prepare a track in Autumn than when you know you’ve got a lot longer

          Turkey’s weather, especially around Istanbul, deteriorates rapidly during early October – becoming quite cold and wet before winter Russian high pressure system keeps those westerlies honest

          In short, a nightmare for them getting the surface perfect

    7. You mean over 10 seconds off the track record held by Jimmy Broadbent?

    8. Hearing Croft, Karun & Herbert all insisting that F1 should look at ways to make all track surfaces produce as little grip as we saw this morning was embarrassing.

      Crofty & Herbert throwing gimmick ideas around I expect but before joining Sky Karun used to be more sensible than that, Yet now he just throws out all the artificial gimmick ideas that i’m sure will please Sky who seem to want F1 to be full of such things.

      Was even a point during FP1 where Croft tried to take credit for giving Pirelli the idea to make the tyres more temperature sensitive. He said something along the lines of ‘When we went to Austin in 2012 & everyone was having issues with tyre temperature I spoke to Pirelli & then the tyres went in that direction’.

      It’s an embarrassment that a broadcaster seems to have so much power.

      1. Karun simply implied that the cars are too perfect and predictable normally. If a low grip surface makes the drivers really need to drive the car and use all their skills, then maybe it would be a factor worth looking into – as opposed to the constant search for perfection in all things; ultimately resulting in dull and predictable races.
        Is it any wonder that the people working for the main F1 broadcaster (who profits from viewers buying their F1 service/product) would want F1 to actually be better to watch?

        They could just lop off 2/3 of the downforce to achieve a similar result – but F1 will not do that because… well… F1 and it’s finicky viewers wouldn’t like it.

        As for Croft – who listens to anything he says anyway?

        1. And Kirun would know? That guy that ran around at the back of the grid 12 times in cars totally unrelated to today’s machines? No. Just no!

          Fact is these guys get a really nice number being dragged around the world criticising what is one of the worlds most amazing engineering exhibitions all the while trying to trivialise it for the Sun readers.

          They should be ashamed of themselves frankly. Yes their boss is paying a big bill but if the spent half the time explaining some of the amazing technology achievements the racing, the challenges, actually anything rather than fussing about some aero thing they noticed or the overtaking numbers or whatever the latest celebrity is doing, well we might have more respect.

          The fact is the whole team is stale, outdated, spoilt and childish.

          It actually amazes me they get away with it.

          If you could see the efforts put into to years of unpaid amateur racing just for the love of it the you would just perhaps appreciate 5he absolute lack of appetite for crafty and his latest five star hotel issue.

          Frankly – there is more wrong with the idiots commentating than ever there is with the racing.

          A lot more!

    9. Juan Pablo Montoya 2005 record. Sounds like something from another era.

    10. I’m surprised so many think of the slippery surface as a positive. I agree it’s nice the teams have no data because that is what makes the racing predictable. But not these green surfaces. There will be just enough rubber on the racing line come race day. This just means trying a braking or passing manoeuvre is nigh impossible because options on racing lines will be eliminated. I believe Portugal could be so much better if the track gave the drivers more options on braking and corner lines

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