Max Verstappen felt he made the most of the conditions at the Intercity Istanbul Park track on Friday as he topped both free practice sessions on Formula 1’s return to Turkey.
The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver was positive after arriving at the track with a good handle of the car, while he was also pleased that the team was able to react to the difficult conditions that presented themselves on Friday.
The Istanbul track had recently been re-laid, and as such, drivers up and down the field were struggling across both practice sessions, but Verstappen was able to have an edge of his rivals come the end of both the morning and afternoon session.
“I think overall for us it was quite a positive day and the car is working well so I’m pretty happy about that,” said Verstappen. “I think the prep we did before we got here was good, but then of course we also did well to react to the conditions out on track.
“It is very slippery out there but at the end of the day it’s the same for everyone so we just have to adapt to it but I think we are all still about five seconds off where we should be on this track. I hope it’s not going to rain because then we may actually need spikes!
“I don’t think softer tyres would have made a difference, we did go faster when going from a hard to a soft but it’s just the grip on the tarmac. For sure Mercedes will get it together tomorrow so now I just hope we can have a competitive qualifying and in the race we will see what happens.”
“It’s not a normal feeling driving what feels like a drift car” – Alexander Albon
Team-mate Alexander Albon was also positive after his first taste of Istanbul Park, with the Thai driver ending second fastest in the morning and fifth in the afternoon.
Albon, who is under pressure to perform across the final four races of 2020 in order to be in with a chance of keeping his seat for 2021, said the track conditions were very tricky to deal with and it made him push out of his comfort zone.
However, he hopes that the rest of the weekend is as positive as Friday was as he bids to secure only a second career podium finish to add to his third place from the Tuscan Grand Prix earlier this year.
“It was a positive day and it’s always fun to try out a new track,” reflected Albon. “In FP1 and FP2, it was like an ice rink out there and a bit weird because it’s not a normal feeling driving what feels like a drift car.
“You’re just sliding around which of course is a bit fun in a way but it’s also not what an F1 car likes! In order to switch the tyres on and get them to work you’re having to push way out of your comfort zone so it’s tricky but it is what it is.
“We expected the softer compounds to maybe make things a bit easier in terms of grip but they didn’t help as much as we thought so I don’t know what teams are going to do in qualifying. It feels like we might all have to put softs on and fuel the car up for a race run and just keep doing laps!
“We’ll look at everything tonight and then with the conditions tomorrow, let’s see what happens but all in all it was a good day.”