Formula One finally made its return to Turkey, but what a day it was. The Istanbul Park circuit resembled a huge ice rink courtesy of a unique combo of a cold day, brand-new tarmac and a surface wash carried out overnight. The sight of cars tip-toeing around corners they’d normally take at full speed and lapping some 11 seconds off the pace of the previous lap record was the highlight of FP1 – conditions making the job of gathering data on a new track even harder than normal.
In the end, despite the lack of grip, there was plenty of mileage, especially in FP2 as the track surface gradually improved. There were some promising signs in both the long and short runs as the team went through their programme, ticking all the boxes and collecting the data needed for a long evening of number-crunching.
For those outside the engineers’ office, the eyes now turn to the skies. There’s a threat of rain for tomorrow and a shower would do a lot to erase any trace of track improvement we’ve had so far. It could shake up the order, it could provide a few surprises. Qualifying could take place on a quickly improving track – or on something even more akin to a gigantic slip ‘n slide. We just have to wait and see.
Kimi Raikkonen: “Track conditions were the biggest challenge this morning, even though we managed to do all we were planning to achieve. The day wasn’t very warm, the tyres were hard and the tarmac new, and this combination made everything really slippery. It’s still very difficult to get a proper feel for the car, although it was promising to see how better it all got with every lap, but in the end it is the same for everybody. Of course, tomorrow it could rain and we have seen how even more slippery the tarmac gets when it’s wet, so we’ll just need to wait and see in what conditions we will run in qualifying.”
Antonio Giovinazzi: “The track looks really nice but the conditions were so, so slippery. It was very difficult to put it all together, it was probably the worst I felt in a Formula One car today – but at least it was the same for everyone. Tomorrow could be even worse, if it rains or it gets even colder, so we will see what happens. The first few laps in FP1 were really difficult, FP2 was a bit better as the track improved a little. These conditions can be an opportunity for us, everything can happen: we will need to be sharp and put a good lap together in qualifying.”
Check out our Friday gallery from Istanbul, here.