Max claims practice hat-trick at Istanbul ice rink

Date published: November 14 2020

Max Verstappen Red Bull.jpg

The Istanbul Park circuit went from icy to wet and icy for Saturday’s final practice with Max Verstappen quickest ahead of Charles Leclerc.

Following Friday’s slips and slides, the Turkish GP organisers had road cars running on the circuit during the night in a bid to rubber in the track. And then the rain came undoing any good that may have been done.

More drizzle on Saturday morning meant FP3 began on a damp circuit, just 15’C, and with more rain on the way.

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Romain Grosjean was the first man to brave the conditions, heading out on the intermediate tyres and twitching his way around the circuit. He was joined by the Ferraris and Red Bulls while Lewis Hamilton stood at the back of his garage waiting for the conditions to potentially improve.

Sergio Perez was the first spinner, but unlikely to be the last, while Kimi Raikkonen made use of the run-off to make his way around the circuit.

Alex Albon and Charles Leclerc traded blows on the timesheet, swapping P1, before Max Verstappen blitzed their times with a 1:48.4.

Esteban Ocon added his name to the growing list of spinners, although he was given a tap by Leclerc as the Ferrari driver tried to slide up the inside. “He hit me” was Ocon’s assessment.

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Lando Norris, Sebastian Vettel and Daniil Kvyat were the next to spin as the rain grew steadily heavier. “It’s getting a bit trickier now, quite slippery,” Verstappen told Red Bull.

Despite the conditions, only Hamilton, Pierre Gasly, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi did not set times in the first 15 minutes.

Leclerc reported that it is “not driveable like this, the tyres are too cold” as Hamilton did his first lap on the full wets and immediately pitted. McLaren brought its drivers in for full wets but Carlos Sainz still spun.

Vettel informed Ferrari that it was “getting more difficult” but added that he may as well stay out. He understeered off the track. His next lap he was off at Turn 6. Leclerc also went into a slide, lucky to stop before hitting the barrier. Another yet another long lap off the track Vettel pitted.

Sainz returned to the action on full wets, sliding his way across the grass at about 130mph. He was the last man back in the pits as only the sound of the rain hitting the tarmac could be heard at the Istanbul Park.

With the rain continuing only a few drivers opted to put in laps in the final 26 minutes with Antonio Giovinazzi spinning into the gravel. He spun again on his way back to the pits.

Verstappen’s earlier 1:48.4 stood firm as the P1 time. He finished ahead of Leclerc by 0.945s while Albon was third, a further 0.6s adrift.

Hamilton, Russell and Latifi did not set lap times.

Times

1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:48.485
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.945s
3 Alex Albon Red Bull 1.574s
4 Esteban Ocon Renault 5.412s
5 Lando Norris McLaren 5.510s
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 6.005s
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point 7.092s
8 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 7.181s
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas 7.393s
10 Lance Stroll Racing Point 8.339s
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 9.990s
12 Carlos Sainz McLaren 11.063s
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 13.840s
14 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 13.988s
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 16.263s 5
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 17.866s 7
17 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 20.883s 5
18 George Russell Williams no times
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams no times
20 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes no times

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