Formula 1 boss Ross Brawn has countered criticism of the slippery new track surface at Istanbul Park and says it allowed drivers to showcase their talent.
Drivers struggled for grip on the fresh surface throughout Friday’s dry practice sessions for the Turkish Grand Prix, running lap times well off the expected pace.
That was followed by heavy rain in both qualifying and the race which made for extremely difficult conditions as drivers struggled for grip.
George Russell said that they were “being made to look like idiots” on the slippery surface, with tyre temperature playing a key role and some cars clearly struggling more than others to get the tyres in the right operating window.
However, Brawn insisted the tricky conditions gave drivers a chance to demonstrate their abilities.
“The promoter and country have done a fantastic job to put the circuit in a position to host a sensational grand prix,” Brawn said in his column on F1.com.
“I appreciate drivers were not happy with overall grip levels, but it was a consequence of the late decision to race there as the calendar was revised to respond to COVID-19.
“I think drivers sometimes need to remember it’s a competition of who crosses the line first, so while grip levels weren’t high, it was the same for everyone.
“Some drivers got their head down and came to terms with it, others found it a distraction.
“Having a challenging surface as we had this weekend was no bad thing. It showed a driver’s talent to the max. I don’t think grip levels are a measure of the level of competition you will have.”
Brawn also felt the drivers who relished the challenge fared the best.
“Competition needs to be fair and equal,” he said. “It’s a sport, so we need to give everyone the same opportunity. It’s challenging, but that should be seen as a good thing.
“As an example, Monaco has always been seen to be a very difficult event and race, but if you came to terms with it and looked on it positively as a big challenge, then you would succeed and win races there. If you went there in a negative frame of mind, you didn’t succeed.
“Turkey didn’t have the grippiest surface, but those who knuckled down and thought this was an opportunity had success.”
Brawn also pointed out the conditions favoured experience, with Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel filling the podium slots, and the likes of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc making mistakes.
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“What we saw today was the old guard demonstrating their experience and the young pretenders showing they have a bit more to learn,” he said.
“It was fascinating to watch Sebastian’s performance this weekend, people are quick to write any type of sportsman off if they have a quiet period.
“Sunday reminded us of his deep talent. He’s been a bit in the shadow of Charles this year and coming to the end of his Ferrari marriage is not easy, so I think the Turkish GP was a great day for him. He didn’t put a foot wrong and was ready to pounce when an opportunity came up.
“Perez put in a great performance, and I’ve said before, it would be a tragedy if he isn’t in F1 next year. He more than deserves his place on the grid. If you’re a team that wants a competitive driver to maximise every opportunity, Perez is your man.
“In contrast, the younger drivers – such as Charles and Max – made mistakes. They wouldn’t have experienced a race like this before.
“It was a real challenge to judge how the tyres would behave, how they would evolve and anticipating where the tyres will be in 10 or 20 laps time – this was where experience came in.
“But this will be another reference point in these young drivers’ data bank.
“If we did another race in Turkey tomorrow, I’m sure a lot of them would approach it differently.”
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