Hamilton: New Istanbul surface ‘sh*t with capital s’

Jamie Woodhouse

Lewis Hamilton has unsurprisingly selected the Turkish Grand Prix as his “stand-out” performance in a dominant 2020 campaign.

Lewis Hamilton got straight to the point when criticising the new surface at Istanbul Park ahead of the Turkish GP.

Formula 1 is making its first visit to Turkey since 2011, but the drivers have been greeted with a new, shiny surface at this popular venue.

The result in Friday practice was that the competitors struggled terribly for grip, only making it into the 1:28s come the afternoon session, over four seconds slower than the race lap record.

Hamilton couldn’t even squeeze a 1:28 out of his W11, finishing the afternoon session in P4. He branded the new surface as a waste of money and “sh*t with a capital s”.

“That was a bit of a disaster today,” he told reporters.

“This track is such a fantastic circuit and I really don’t fully understand when they spend millions to redo a surface of a track.

“I know it’s been siting around for a long time but they probably could have just cleaned it maybe instead of wasting all the money, and now the track is worse than Portimao was when we had a new surface.

“None of the tyres for us at least are working and you’ve seen it, it’s like an ice rink out there, and so you don’t get quite the enjoyment of the lap that you would normally get at Istanbul. I don’t see that changing.

“It’s terrifying the whole way around, it’s almost like there are wet patches all over so when you’re on your slicks you are accelerating and then it goes, so fast.

“And that’s because you are way way below the temperature window, these tyres are so hard and they work in just a certain window, so if you’re 10 or 20 degrees below then they’re not working, 20 degrees over they’re not working.

“And for some reason this surface is so smooth, a lot of the older circuits it’s much more open between the stones so it works the tyre more, whereas this one it’s all super close, flat and shiny.

“It’s sh*t with a capital s.”

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Pirelli have brought the C1, C2 and C3 tyres to Istanbul, the hardest compounds in their range, so would even softer tyres have helped?

“Sure it would help, definitely,” he said.

“As you go down the range it’s not great, the hard tyre is useless, the medium is so-so and then the soft tyre is starting to be better.

“I think if we had the soft, going down to the softest [compound] then it may have been better.

“But it’s a really difficult circuit. For Turn 8 you kill the right tyres so who knows.

“It would have worked a little bit better than it is but it is what it is.”

Hamilton said the lack of grip meant he wasn’t able to work on the setup of his Mercedes at all.

“I haven’t changed a single thing with the car today because if the tyres aren’t working you don’t really know what the balance issue is, it’s literally just tyres,” he said.

“But you’ve seen other people are getting them to work, you can go from one lap through to the other and all of a sudden you find a second because the tyres worked in a couple of corners.

“Obviously the Red Bulls are doing really well with it and we’ve definitely got some work to do tonight to try and figure out what we can change.

“It will be difficult for the fans to understand because there are fundamental things you just can’t change on the car so we just have to do the best job we can.”

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