It’s Qualifying day at the Intercity Istanbul Park circuit, and it was Max Verstappen who topped the tables of the final practice session to round off a hattrick of practice sessions led.
Prior to the session, Pirelli increased the mandatory tyre pressures due to the huge energy loads witnessed the day before. The track was battered with rain overnight as well, meaning drivers had a plethora of challenges to contend with in Free Practice Three. Race director Michael Masi also added turn six to the regulated track-limits zones, and warned that any infringements to these regulations would result in laptime deletions.
The session began at 09:00 GMT amidst light rain and cloudy skies, and Romain Grosjean was the first out the garage to face the tricky conditions. Those out on circuit first were reporting a ‘very smooth track’ with ‘little grip’.
All drivers were out early- wrestling with the slippery surface in order to gain the valuable track time, and less than ten minutes in Sergio Perez binned it and spun round getting on the throttle in the first sector. Esteban Ocon followed suit shortly after because of a tap from Charles Leclerc, and subsequent spins plagued the morning.
A sequence of spins eleven minutes in signalled a need for full-wet tyres as the rain made it’s way closer to the circuit. The grease of the track didn’t make the task at hand easier, either, and laptimes were way off even that of yesterday. Daniil Kvyat highlighted how hard it was to keep temperature in the tyres due to the resurfaced track and wet weather, and his rather frustrated radio message undoubtedly aired the thoughts of all the drivers.
At around the halfway mark of the session, the rain got even more unforgiving. Carlos Sainz Jr. spun his McLaren MCL-35 and narrowly avoided the barriers, whilst the rest of the field retired to the pits. No one dared to challenge the track until conditions relented in fear of crashing and sabotaging their Qualifying later on.
Some drivers came out for a final test of their mettle with ten minutes to go, and Antonio Giovinazzi was one of them. Unfortunately for him, he spun twice in one lap and caused some minor damage to the front wing endplates of his Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39.
Even six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton struggled in the awkward weather. The Brit called the conditions ‘shocking’ and couldn’t manage to set a time at all in the session.
At the end of the hour-long practice, it was Verstappen, Leclerc and Alexander Albon who completed the top three. Although these times aren’t necessarily representative, it shows who is confident and who is not around the Istanbul Park circuit. Notably, neither Bottas nor Hamilton could break into the top five.
Free Practice Three Timings:
|1||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1:48.485||6|
|2||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1:49.430||0.945s||9|
|3||23||Alexander Albon||THA||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1:50.059||1.574s||5|
|4||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Renault DP World F1 Team||1:53.897||5.412s||9|
|5||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1:53.995||5.510s||7|
|6||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Scuderia Ferrari||1:54.490||6.005s||14|
|7||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||1:55.577||7.092s||6|
|8||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:55.666||7.181s||4|
|9||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1:55.878||7.393s||4|
|10||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||1:56.824||8.339s||5|
|11||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Renault DP World F1 Team||1:58.475||9.990s||6|
|12||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||McLaren F1 Team||1:59.548||11.063s||7|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing||2:02.325||13.840s||10|
|14||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||2:02.473||13.988s||7|
|15||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Haas F1 Team||2:04.748||16.263s||5|
|16||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing||2:06.351||17.866s||12|
|17||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||2:09.368||20.883s||8|
|18||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||1|
|19||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1|
|20||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||3|