The Intercity Istanbul Park offered much more grip than it did last year, which surprised several teams. Among these outfits was Red Bull which endured an uncharacteristically difficult day with Max Verstappen unable to find the rhythm with his RB16B.
On the other hand, his championship rival Lewis Hamilton enjoyed his first day of this year’s Turkish Grand Prix, topping both Friday practice sessions. The Briton is, however, set for a mid-pack start at best on Sunday after Mercedes opted to take a new engine for his power unit before the start of practice. Considering his pace, he could easily storm through the field on Sunday while Verstappen needs to get his act together to dial in the setup of his car if he wants to get the best out of this weekend.
Charles Leclerc – FP1: 1:24.654, P3; FP2: 1:23.970, P2
“Compared to last year, the track has more grip. The car felt really good today, and I really enjoyed driving as I could play with the rear of the car and rotate it like that. This seems to have worked out well for now, as we were quite competitive. Although things are looking positive so far, it’s only Friday. We need to keep our heads down and work on fine tuning the car to have a good qualifying.”
Carlos Sainz – FP1: 1:24.860, P5; FP2: 1:24.903, P12
“A bit of a different Friday for us obviously, knowing we will start from the back of the grid due to the penalty for changing the PU. We checked everything was running smoothly, tried different set ups and worked with the soft and medium tyres, focusing on the long runs. It felt quite strange to go into a Friday without attempting to go fast in the short runs, but our target this weekend is to make up places on Sunday. The car looks competitive and the track has changed a lot since last year. There’s a lot of grip, probably one of the highest of the season so far and it’s important to understand how it affects the tyres and the car performance.”
Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:24.178, P1; FP2: 1:23.804, P1
“The track felt so different to last year – in 2020, oil was rising from the new surface and the grip was so difficult to find. Coming into this weekend, I didn’t know what to expect when we went out there but the level of grip was intense, it was awesome. The track is so much more enjoyable to drive.
“We started off with a really great setup in FP1, the first session was strong. We made some changes between the sessions and combined with track evolution, the car didn’t feel quite as good but we made some important learnings, for sure. We’re fairly close to the maximum we can extract from the package but we always find something overnight, so we’ll be working hard to take our pace into tomorrow – hopefully it isn’t raining! I have a lot of work to do on Sunday and I need to just focus on getting the best out of tomorrow, obviously aiming for pole to limit the loss of the penalty.”
Valtteri Bottas – FP1: 1:24.842, P4; FP2: 1:24.214, P3
“Today was a lot faster than last year! FP1 today was over 10 seconds faster than last year and it’s actually become one of the grippiest tracks we have on the calendar which makes it a lot of fun – I enjoyed it today. Last year the balance was geared towards correcting understeer with the low grip but now we can be a bit more aggressive with the car.
“In FP1 we were all trying to adapt and read the balance. Our starting point was a bit off but by FP2, the car was feeling was pretty good. No big issues and no red flags so a lot of running and it feels like it could be a strong weekend for us. Looking at the timing board, it looks like a good track for Ferrari but I’m sure Red Bull have a lot more to come, as we all do. It’s going to be close.”
Max Verstappen – FP1: 1:24.603, P2; FP2: 1:24.439, P5
“It’s a super nice track especially with the improved conditions but it looks like we have a lot to go through this evening because today wasn’t the best of days. We tried a few different things going from FP1 to FP2 but we’re still looking around for improvements as we don’t have a lot of data on these cars for this track.
„Of course, Lewis is taking a penalty on Sunday but we have to focus on ourselves, hopefully we can make improvements before qualifying tomorrow as we have some challenges, we’ll see what we can do. I’m just looking forward to the rest of the weekend and getting back out there on track.”
Sergio Perez – FP1: 1:25.459, P10; FP2: 1:24.373, P4
“It has been a positive Friday overall and with the work we will do this evening we should be looking good for qualifying. The amount of grip surprised me today; it is more like a standard track out there now, but it is still very challenging because the grip is not consistent. Sometimes on the entrance to the corner you have less grip than on the exit, so as a driver it is difficult to adjust to that aspect of this track.
„Mercedes look strong here but hopefully overnight we are able to chip away a couple of tenths and be in the mix for tomorrow. It is all about compromise because if you try and get the ideal balance for qualifying over one lap then you compromise the long run pace a bit, which is important here because overtaking is relatively easy. There is the potential of rain for qualifying tomorrow, but we will be well prepared, whatever the weather.”
🗣 “The amount of grip surprised me today; it is more like a standard track out there now, but it is still very challenging because the grip is not consistent.” @SChecoPerez on #TurkishGP Friday 🇹🇷👉 https://t.co/eKhXF9aZc0 pic.twitter.com/YDzrBQGeEs
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) October 8, 2021
Daniel Ricciardo – FP1: 1:25.750, P12; FP2: 1:25.060, P14
“Firstly, it was fun, in terms of the track and the level of grip. It was so different to last year and definitely more enjoyable. I’ll be very surprised if a driver says otherwise! It’s pretty high speed and sections of it are pretty relentless, which just makes it a good track to drive around. I think the time doesn’t really represent the feeling in the car today. I feel a lot better than where we are on the timesheets, so we’re not concerned about that. We’ve still a bit of work to do on setup, but nothing too crazy. We’ll push on tonight, do some productive work and come out swinging tomorrow.”
Lando Norris – FP1: 1:25.347, P7; FP2: 1:24.525, P6
“It felt good to be back in the car and to get things going again. It’s been a decent Friday, quite different conditions to what we had in Turkey last season. It feels like a different track altogether. I think we learned quite a bit today in preparation for tomorrow and the race. Friday was exactly what we needed, and we’ll try to do better again tomorrow.”
Esteban Ocon – FP1: 1:24.909, P6; FP2: 1:24.672, P8
“It’s been a solid Friday for us today and probably one of the most interesting Fridays we’ve had this year. We arrived here not knowing what the conditions were going to be like and it turned out it was much improved in comparison to last year with very high grip; probably one of the highest levels of grip we’ve experienced this season.
„It’s great to take on this track in these conditions and experience the layout. We had very good performance in FP1, inside the top five throughout, and then again in FP2 we were well inside the top 10. We’ve learnt a lot today that we can put into action tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
Fernando Alonso – FP1: 1:25.383, P9; FP2: 1:24.660, P7
“Today was like discovering a new track for the very first time. I think it was the same for everybody after the issues with track grip from last year. It seems the grip is back to normal, which is good news and it means we can have confidence in the car during a lap. We didn’t really change much on the car in both sessions, so we were mostly experimenting the tyres today. Again, the weather is the biggest unknown heading into tomorrow, but I think we should be ready for any forecast.”
Pierre Gasly – FP1: 1:25.382, P8; FP2: 1:24.756, P9
“Today I haven’t felt that great in the car, but we’ve still come away with two strong positions which is positive, and I believe there is more we can give again tomorrow. I wasn’t too happy with the balance of the car, as I was experiencing a lot of understeer, so that’s something we’ve got to work on. I believe it’s something that a lot of drivers have been experiencing, so we need to go away and analyse what we can do to improve this and hopefully we can continue to improve our performance in FP3.”
Yuki Tsunoda – FP1: 1:26.424, P18; FP2: 1:24.882, P11
“I think this is a really amazing track and I’ve really enjoyed my first two sessions here at Istanbul Park. I’ve been building my confidence up gradually and this afternoon I think we’ve shown some good pace. The conditions today have been windy but fairly good, however tomorrow there may be rain, so this could prove trickier again. We’ll have to see what happens with the weather, and prepare as much as we can for that, but we’re happy with the performance of the car so far this weekend and I think we’ve shown a big improvement.”
Sebastian Vettel – FP1: 1:25.810, P13; FP2: 1:25.229, P16
“Overall, I think we had a decent start to the weekend. We found a baseline in FP1 and, in the afternoon, we were exploring the limits and trying different things. I think there is more that we can learn in FP3 tomorrow ahead of qualifying, which is positive.
„After the recent work here, it still feels very much like the same circuit but with different grip conditions, so the targets have not changed much. For example, we know it is very important to have a strong front end, or it can be quite costly across a lap. Our task now is to optimise what we learned in both sessions and have a good qualifying session tomorrow.”
“Today was about discovering a circuit that has recently had work done to improve the grip compared to last year, not to mention the tricky wind conditions for everyone out there. On our side, there are positives to take from today, but we know we need to find more pace in the car for the rest of the weekend.
„I am confident we can do so and we are targeting improvements in the balance of the car too. The main thing is that we know what we need to do. We will go away tonight and work hard to move forward.”
His new helmet design had everyone talking, but how did his day go?
George Russell – FP1: 1:25.685, P11; FP2: 1:25.358, P18
“Our high fuel pace looked pretty strong today, but our low fuel pace wasn’t quite as good. We need to go into more detail with the data tonight so we can find something for tomorrow but with rain forecast for overnight and in the morning, it may mean the track conditions will reset quite a lot ahead of qualifying.
„We have to take these opportunities where conditions are changing to our advantage and we’ve done that really well in the last few races. It will be a very tricky race on Sunday as no car has done more than 12 laps in a row on a single set of tyres and we’ve got to do quite a lot more than that during the Grand Prix.”
Nicholas Latifi – FP1: 1:25.863, P15; FP2: 1:25.307, P17
“The surface is not as I expected it to be, particularly from what I saw during the track walk at least, but in a positive way. Obviously, the grip is much higher than last year, and it actually feels much higher than most other tracks in general. Now that the grip is there, it’s a really fun circuit to drive and is very fast and flowing. It’s quite an enjoyable feeling and it’s exceeded my expectations. I’m still struggling to get the tyres in the right window, especially on the low fuel, so I think there’s more work to come there but in general the car doesn’t feel in a bad window. There’s definitely some fine tuning to do but I think we can make a good start tomorrow.”
Kimi Raikkonen – FP1: 1:25.933, P16; FP2: 1:25.143, P15
“There is obviously a lot of potential in the car and we’ll need to unlock it all tonight. In the first practice sessions, we still lacked a bit of balance so there is work to do but we’re confident we can turn it around overnight. There is a lot more grip than we expected so we will adapt to those conditions and see where we end up in qualifying.”
Antonio Giovinazzi – FP1: 1:25.813, P14; FP2: 1:24.796, P10
“I was very happy to find a lot more grip in the track, right from the first lap of FP1. It really feels like a completely different circuit and it’s been good fun, especially as we had good balance in the car – so, overall, a good Friday of work. Finding the right feel for the car is easier when there is grip, we could lap confidently and the first indications for tomorrow are promising. We need to see what the weather will do tomorrow: we looked good in the dry but we’ll take whatever the conditions will be.”
Mick Schumacher – FP1: 1:26.636, P19; FP2: 1:25.480, P19
“The increase in grip was there and the car felt good today. I think we were a lot closer to the pack than usual which is very promising, and I think for tomorrow we have a good idea of what we want and what we need. It’s very flowy, it’s a very nice track. I got the chance to drive it in the simulator and it definitely lived up to what I drove there so I’m very happy to be racing here this week. I’m going to be doing the rain dance soon.”
Nikita Mazepin – FP1: 1:27.019, P20; FP2: 1:25.698, P20
“It was very interesting because as a rookie and going into one of the very few tracks in Europe that I haven’t driven on, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The feedback I received from other drivers and what you can read on social media is that it was incredibly difficult to drive. Ever since I got out there for the first time, I thought the grip was improved. The layout is quite special, it’s quite flowing so you need to get a rhythm, which I enjoyed, and I think it could make for a good race weekend.”
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