Verstappen fastest on slippery Istanbul Park circuit
By Mat Coch
Saturday 14th November, 2020 - 1:30am
Max Verstappen has ended the opening day’s running at the Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix fastest with the best time in both sessions.
The Dutchman topped the opening 90-minute session by 0.2s to Red Bull team-mate Alex Albon, before eking that out to 0.4s over Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) in Practice 2.
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) was just 15th in the opening session but improved to fourth later in the day as he came to grips with a slippery Istanbul Park circuit.
The track surface proved a critical issue during opening practice with the newly laid tarmac offering precious little by way of grip.
It saw times well down on previous benchmarks around the venue, which were set when F1 last visited in 2011.
Times were, as a result, predictably slow, with track limits violations seeing a host of times struck from the timing screens no sooner than they were set.
Valtteri Bottas had proved fastest in FP1 initially before Verstappen bumped him from the top of the timesheets, only to himself be bettered by both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel.
In the closing minutes of Practice 1, Alex Albon set the best lap of the session before Verstappen reclaimed top spot soon after.
It was a quiet session for Hamilton, who did not emerge for the first 40 minutes, and not setting a time until the final 20 minutes.
Low grip conditions remained for Practice 2, with Verstappen’s best of 1:28.330s still someway off the 2011 pole position time at the venue.
A key difference for the session was the use of medium compound tyres, after most had sampled the hards during Practice 1.
An evolving track helped matters too, with Bottas banking a 1:34.940s to go fastest early in proceedings.
Verstappen moved that benchmark on to 1:32.836s before Albon recorded two timed laps, springing to the top of the timing screens.
The Thai driver’s time, 1m30.872s, came after 20 minutes had elapsed in the session and stood until Leclerc went 0.1s quicker not long later.
That came after a number of slow laps of build up, an approach also adopted by Vettel.
Albon struck back to reclaim top spot with a 1:29.363s, Verstappen falling 0.007s shy of that marker.
His pace however was swelling, and he subsequently set a 1:28.731 – though not before there was a brief spell at the top for Leclerc.
The final phase of the session was spent on long run pace, meaning few improved on their earlier efforts.
That resulted in Daniel Ricciardo recording the 15th best time in Practice 2, three places up from where he’d been in Practice 1 earlier in the day.
Esteban Ocon in the sister-car ended the day with 10th and 12th fastest times respectively.
AlphaTauri showed well with Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat inside the top 10 in both sessions, the Frenchman ahead of his Russian team-mate in the first instance before roles were reversed later on.
Ferrari was the busiest of the teams, Leclerc and Vettel wracking up 86 laps between them in FP2, having set a combined 55 in FP1.
McLaren meanwhile struck trouble when Carlos Sainz rolled to a halt in Practice 1, triggering the Virtual Safety Car after the Spaniard reported engine and power steering issues in his car.
There was also an interruption when the pit entry sign was knocked out of position, exposing bolts designed to keep it captive, when Leclerc slid into it early on.
Practice for Sunday’s race continues tomorrow ahead of qualifying at 23:00 AEDT.
Result: Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix, Free Practice 2
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:28.330|
|5||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:29.363||+1.033s|
|6||26||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri Honda||1:29.689||+1.359s|
|7||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||1:29.944||+1.614s|
|9||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||1:30.297||+1.967s|
|10||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Renault||1:30.735||+2.405s|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||1:31.104||+2.774s|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:31.493||+3.163s|
|14||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||1:31.498||+3.168s|
|16||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:31.932||+3.602s|
|17||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:32.302||+3.972s|
|18||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:32.570||+4.240s|
|19||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:32.807||+4.477s|
|20||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:33.488||+5.158s|
Result: Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix, Free Practice 1
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:35.077|
|2||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:35.318||+0.241s|
|4||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||1:35.543||+0.466s|
|6||26||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri Honda||1:36.738||+1.661s|
|7||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||1:37.216||+2.139s|
|8||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:37.503||+2.426s|
|11||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:38.508||+3.431s|
|12||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||1:38.612||+3.535s|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||1:39.484||+4.407s|
|14||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:40.025||+4.948s|
|16||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:41.035||+5.958s|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:41.854||+6.777s|
|19||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||1:46.462||+11.385s|
|20||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:49.256||+14.179s|