As we know, this weekend the Turkish Grand Prix is being held at Istanbul Park. Today was the first day of on-track action and a surprising Max Verstappen took first place in both free practice sessions. The Red Bulls had a great day in Istanbul and many people expect them to be extremely high in qualifying tomorrow. In the afternoon session, the Dutch driver took the first position with a best time of 1:35.077 and 29 laps. His teammate, Alex Albon, surprised many people after taking second place with a best time of 1:35.318, being 0.241 seconds slower than Verstappen after running for 27 laps. Charles Leclerc placed third, Pierre Gasly finished fourth while Ferrari’s driver, Sebastian Vettel, completed the top 5. In the second free practice session, Max was back in the lead with a time of 1:28.330 and 37 laps, it should be noted that this time made by Verstappen was 3.3 seconds slower than the pole position last time that was raced on the Turkish circuit, that is, 9 years ago. On the other hand, Albon finished fifth, 1,033 seconds behind the Dutchman. These were some thoughts Max Verstappen shared following Friday's conclusion.
“It was still like five seconds off what we should do. Grip levels can’t get any worse, we are still miles off, it’s like driving on ice. Worse than Portimao by far.” Commented Verstappen. “But at the end of the day is the same for everyone, so we just have to adapt to it. I hope it’s not going to rain because then It will be properly like driving on ice. Maybe we’ll have to switch to spike or something on the tyres.”
We have to remember that Pirelli decided to supply the teams with the hardest range of tyres for this weekend, this decision was questioned by many people, however, Max does not believe that it would have been much of a difference if the softest tires had been the ones that they would have supplied.
“We did go a bit faster, of course, already from hard to soft. But it’s just the grip on the Tarmac. You can stick even softer tyres on but they will then grain to death so that’s not a solution.”
“For sure Mercedes, tomorrow, will get it together. But for us, today was very positive. It means also, I think, the preparation we did to get here was not too bad. But then also, of course, reacting to the conditions we did well today in first practice. So I just hope that we can have a competitive qualifying and the in the race you never know what is going to happen.” Said the Dutchman.
Max is confident and believes that the team will be amazingly fast in qualifying. We have seen how the lap times have decreased from the first to the second free practice session, which is incredibly positive for the Austrian team since in both sessions, a car of theirs took the first position.