What the teams said - Friday in Turkey
News broke midway through the opening session that Hamilton will serve a ten-place grid penalty here after taking on a fourth ICE of the season. He will be looking to minimise that penalty by grabbing P1 in qualifying – and so far, so good for the reigning world champion. Comfortably fastest in FP1, his advantage was cut in FP2 but he still wound up on top of the pile. As for Bottas, he improved as the day wore on but might have his hands full tomorrow with that Ferrari of Leclerc looking quick.
READ MORE: Hamilton loving ‘intense’ Istanbul challenge but has ‘a lot of work to do on Sunday’ after engine change penalty
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."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"We've had a solid day; both cars are showing good pace on single lap and long run. We had to move the setup quite a bit over the course of the day as the track had more grip than we were expecting but it looks like we have ended up in about the right place. We need to go through the data to understand where the three tyre compounds are in terms of pace and degradation; we'd expected them to suffer a bit more given the high energy corners here but they seem to be holding up surprisingly well.
"It feels like other teams may have come in with the same preconceptions, as we saw a lot of soft tyres being used over the course of the day. The indications from free practice are that it's going to be quite a challenge for Lewis to overtake on track but we're looking at all the options available to us in strategy and on car setup to allow us to fight back on Sunday. Valtteri has had a good start to the weekend and looked to have the edge on Max today. We'll be working hard to try and keep that edge as it's obviously a big boost to both championships if we can get Valtteri in front on Saturday and Sunday."
It was an uncharacteristically lacklustre display from Verstappen on Friday. Struggling with the rears in FP1, that changed to issues with the fronts in the second session. They will have to work hard overnight on set up if they want to capitalise on Hamilton’s grid penalty tomorrow. The good news is that Perez seems to have found some form, as after being off the pace in the first session, he bounced back and wound up fourth and right in the thick of things in FP2.
READ MORE: 'It's not looking too good' says Verstappen, as Red Bull struggle in opening Turkish GP practice sessions
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.”
Sainz has taken on a raft of new PU components and as such is set to start from the back on Sunday. The Spaniard ran an opposing strategy to the rest of the field, using up sets of the soft compound tyre and focusing on longer run pace. As for Leclerc, he looked quick here from word go. With two poles to his name this season already, could he capitalise on Red Bull’s struggles and grab a third? He looked quick on both the soft and the medium compound tyre too, which bodes well for race day.
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."
A mixed bag for McLaren, with Norris showing a touch more pace than he usually does on a Friday. He was in the midst of the top 10 in both sessions, and normally kicks on come qualifying. But Ricciardo struggled, unable to set a representative time on the soft rubber in FP2 despite running through two sets of the C4 tyre.
READ MORE: Norris says strong pace in opening Turkey practice sessions helping him get over Sochi disappointment
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.”
Andrea Stella, Racing Director
“The circuit we’ve used today is very different to the one we had last year, with asphalt much closer to ‘normal’ in terms of grip. Our main objective today was understanding tyre behaviour in preparation for qualifying and the race. We had two good sessions, didn’t face any major problems and have gathered a lot of data. We’re in a pretty good place in terms of being prepared for the race, but of course before that we have qualifying, and the forecast shows there’s some inclement weather around. It looks like it’s going to be an interesting Saturday.”
Alpine had a very good opening session, with Ocon right up there despite running the hard compound tyre for much of the first hour of practice. Alonso took slightly longer to get to grips with the circuit, having last raced here back in 2011. But roll on FP2 and both drivers looked impressively quick – that is until Ocon was told to turn everything off as he failed to manage a practice start after the chequered flag had fallen. His session ended in abject fashion, with mechanics pushing his stricken car back to the garage.
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.”
Davide Brivio, Racing Director
“It was a productive day today. The circuit has improved significantly since last year with high grip right from the start of FP1, which allowed the drivers to get quickly up to speed. Both Esteban and Fernando were on the pace straight away with some positive feedback on how the car felt on track in the early running. We tried some different set ups and ideas to find further pace in FP2 and we have a good idea on where we can keep improving ahead of tomorrow. We will keep working and see what the weather is doing tomorrow as there is a chance of rain. It was important to have a good practice day and we’re now looking forward to taking on the rest of the weekend.”
After a couple of poor races by their standards, AlphaTauri were looking to bounce back as they also pay tribute to Honda on what would have been the Japanese Grand Prix weekend. Gasly made some odd complaints – including one about his arms being too short – but had a fairly solid day with a top 10 finish in both sessions. Tsunoda struggled in FP1, getting blocked by Giovinazzi for good measure, but found some more pace as the day wore on.
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.”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer
“We came here with a number of unknowns surrounding how the tyres would behave, given what we all observed last year, alongside what the impact of the measures the circuit have taken to improve the grip here for this weekend would be. We planned for low-grip conditions but were pleasantly surprised when the first push lap was already faster than anything we achieved in the dry last year, so we were back to more normal conditions.
"This meant that the car wasn’t optimised for the track condition we had in this morning’s session, so we had to make a number of changes ahead of FP2. These were for sure in the right direction, but we still faced balance limitations and there is still plenty of room to improve the car for tomorrow. We also approached the weekend differently with Yuki and so far, this has worked – he has more confidence and has performed well. The weather could pose some further excitement tomorrow, particularly in FP3, but we are confident we can find some additional performance in the car overnight.”
Aston Martin were one team to have a poor Friday by their standards, with both drivers struggling with set up from the off. Stroll at least found some improvements in FP2, while his team mate went the other way. They are set to have a late Friday as they try and turn things around in that very tight midfield. The Canadian may well need a sprinkling of the wet stuff if he’s to get even close to repeating his qualifying heroics from last year, while Vettel needs to do his homework and find out where his pace has gone.
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.”
Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:26.361, P17; FP2: 1:25.020, P13
“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.”
Russell looked to have a decent turn of pace in FP1, before falling back in FP2. Coupled with a pair of spins from Latifi, that Williams didn’t look like it enjoyed the breezy conditions as the afternoon wore on. With Russell's ever-growing reputation as one to watch in the wet, it would be no surprise if the team spent their evening conducting a rain dance ahead of tomorrow’s running.
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."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"As we had hoped, the track conditions are much better than last year, and this has allowed us to concentrate on car set-up. We got off to a good start in FP1 with both drivers happy with their cars. Tyre management at high fuel is a little tricky, especially in turn eight and we have a bit of work to do tonight to understand how best to deal with this on Sunday.
"This afternoon we weren’t quite as quick as we had hoped on low fuel, but we are confident that we can improve this overnight. Our high fuel pace remained reasonable and we made some progress with the tyre management. The weather forecast remains uncertain for tomorrow and this will impact our plans. However, we are confident that we can do a decent job whatever the weather does, with both drivers showing excellent pace recently in wet and mixed conditions."
Their Friday will be remembered more for Raikkonen’s frustrations after his drink bottle leaked all over his feet and then his face, than Alfa’s outright pace. When the Finn was done venting his frustrations at everyone in earshot, he had a solid day on track, as did Giovinazzi who looked the pick of the two on the qualifying simulation runs.
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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.”
It was so close to a very solid first day for Haas, until Mazepin blotted his copybook in the closing moments of FP2 with a spin. Other than that though, plenty of laps laid down, and plenty of data gathered as the two rookies continue their steep learning curve at another new circuit.
WATCH: The drivers tackle Istanbul Park’s iconic Turn 8 flat-out in the opening Turkish GP practice session
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.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It was a productive day today in terms of both drivers getting lots of laps in at a track that’s completely new to them – I think we logged over 100 so that’s not bad for a Friday. Both sessions were drama free, which hasn’t always been the case this season, so that undoubtedly helped us just work consistently through our run plan. Obviously, it looks like the track has a little more grip this year, which is a plus, the downside being I believe we’ve got rain on the forecast for the weekend – so we’ll see how that plays out. I’d say it’s been a positive and busy day from our side.”
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"From the beginning it was clear that track conditions were much better than last year, with drivers reporting improved grip, and times in both sessions considerably faster than 2020. It's hard to compare this year to last year, because the weather conditions are different and our tyre nomination is a step softer. The track has also been pressure-washed recently, and this has washed off the surface bitumen, although the level of roughness seems to be unaltered. As a result, we've seen consistent grip throughout the lap – albeit slightly affected by today's gusting winds – and all three tyres providing solid performance, with a bit of graining as expected, especially on the front-right. With so many new aspects compared to last year, the teams will be relying heavily on the information collected today to work out the optimal strategy, rather than the data from 2020. However, there's a risk of rain tomorrow that could cause yet another variable. For the race, what we've learned today is that the hard and medium tyres could be favoured to achieve a one-stop strategy, but the soft could also come into play if the teams are able to mitigate wear."