Max Verstappen was fastest in first practice for the Turkish Grand Prix in tricky conditions as F1 returned to Istanbul. The Red Bull driver was two tenths faster than his teammate Alex Albon, as drivers struggled with cold temperatures and a newly-laid asphalt, that had also been washed ahead of the session.
Verstappen was, however, ten seconds slower than Sebastian Vettel’s pole time, on a circuit which drivers described conditions like ‘driving on ice.’ The circuit did improve with the Dutchman’s fastest time coming at the end of the session.
The two Red Bull drivers set there fastest times in the final minutes of the session, with Albon using DRS to gey passed the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was third fastest, going three hundredths faster than Pierre Gasly. As ever teams set about rubbering in the circuit with an extra set of tyres to allow them to get more time on the new low-grip asphalt.
Verstappen improved by eight seconds from his first run a 41.7 with his fastest time being a 35.0. Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly was fourth fastest going eight tenths faster than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. It was expected that times were going to be slower than qualifying in 2011.
Gasly suffered a spin through Turn One, halfway through the session, which saw him finish four-tenths off the pace. Vettel’s fastest time saw him go ahead of Daniil Kvyat, Lando Norris and Giovinazzi. Kvyat was sixth fastest, going nearly half a second faster than the McLaren of Norris.
Norris’s teammate Carlos Sainz session was interrupted and brought to an end when he stopped at the side of the track with a suspected electrical issue on his MCL35.
The team said they had found an electrical issue and sent him out again, only for the Spaniard to stop on track saying the problem was “engine, power steering”.
It was a low-key start for the Mercedes, as normal the world champions normally under deliver in Friday practice. Valtteri Bottas going ninth fastest, two and a half seconds off the pace, but the circuit is expected to suit them when they turn it up in FP3.
Esteban Ocon was tenth fastest, while Bottas’s teammate Lewis Hamilton was only fifteenth, five seconds off the pace. Mercedes will come back, it’s a circuit which should suit Hamilton, victory and fastest lap would allow him to seal a record-equalling seventh world title on Sunday.
Nicolas Latifi showed pace for Williams going eleventh fastest, just over a hundredth faster than Racing Points Sergio Perez. Latifi was one of several drivers to spin, looping around in the slow final corners by the pitlane entry, while Bottas and Verstappen, on his in-lap after his fastest time had been posted, going around at a faster speed at Turn Nine.