Max Verstappen headed a Red Bull one-two in the opening practice session of F1’s return to Istanbul Park, but conditions meant the Turkish GP weekend began amid largely unrepresentative conditions.
The sport’s first running around the undulating circuit in nine years coincided with a particularly difficult Friday morning for drivers – cold temperatures and a recently-laid asphalt, that had also been washed by organisers ahead of the session.
“Woah… mate it’s like driving on ice!” reported Verstappen on his first lap out of the pits.
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The track remained slippery throughout the 90-minute session and numerous drivers spun, including Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, and pacesetter Verstappen himself.
But the Dutchman still set the quickest lap of practice at the end of the session with a 1:35.077, finishing two tenths ahead of team-mate Alex Albon.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was third with Pierre Gasly fourth for AlphaTauri.
Bottas had set the early running but slipped down to ninth. Lewis Hamilton, who can clinch his seventh world championship title on Sunday, sat out the early stages of the session and ultimately finished 15th.
“It’s like a wet session,” said Karun Chandhok in the Sky F1 commentary box. “It’s impossible to read into what’s happened in this session.”
Lap times were 10 seconds slower than F1’s last visit to the circuit and around 20 seconds off where pole position is expected to be on Saturday in ideal conditions.
But with conditions over the weekend expected to be chilly and overcast, Martin Brundle said: “Generally speaking, it didn’t look like Formula 1 at all [in P1]. I think we’ll get through it, but the track is going to be ultra slippery all through the rest of this weekend.
“It’s just a result of the F1 season that we’re rather impressively getting through.”
McLaren ran into early reliability concerns when Carlos Sainz stopped at the side of the track after just 12 laps with a suspected electrical issue on his MCL35.
Turkish GP Practice One Timesheet
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