Lewis Hamilton says the increased amount of grip on the track at Istanbul Park this year is making things “intense”.
The track was resurfaced ahead of the sport’s return to Turkey last year and provided next to no grip for the cars, with every driver hugely struggling.
The problem has been addressed since then though and that was very much evident on the first day of running this year, with lap times five seconds faster on average.
Hamilton, who topped both sessions, is glad there’s more grip to be found again but says that it does make things intense.
“I didn’t really know what to expect when we went out there today,” he told reporters after the session.
“But geez, there is so much more grip than we’ve ever had before. It’s intense how much grip there is out there which is awesome.
“So yeah, it’s made it a much much more enjoyable track to drive, much more like it was before.”
Friday at Istanbul ✅ Off to a solid start, Team! 👊 pic.twitter.com/kA2R4fnYfl
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) October 8, 2021
The first two practice sessions couldn’t have really been much better for the Mercedes driver with him fastest of anyone in both sessions.
The margin to the rest of the field was bigger in FP1 though, with him 0.425s faster than P2 and only 0.166s ahead in FP2.
He puts that down to changes that were made to his setup between the morning and afternoon.
“We actually started off with a really good setup. The first session was really strong,” he added.
“We made some changes and the track is obviously evolving and feeling different when you get into the second session… I’m not sure it felt as good as it did in the first session in the second session.
“But we’ve got lots of good findings so we’ll hopefully take them forward with us into the next day.”
Regardless of how well he qualifies, he won’t start at the front due to the 10-place grid penalty he has for fitting a new internal combustion engine.
Nevertheless, he’s not focusing solely on race pace in practice as he feels he needs to secure pole and the best possible starting position.
“Well, I need to be on pole, to limit the loss,” said the Brit.
“And then of course I need to understand the car to be able to do the best in terms of long runs.
“Yeah, so just trying to find the right balance. There’s no real difference to any other weekend.”
Lewis Hamilton receives 10-place grid penalty
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton takes a 10-place grid penalty at Turkish Grand Prix.