Sebastian Vettel described a highly unusual Turkish Grand Prix weekend as “something we haven’t seen before” after being knocked out in the second part of qualifying.
During practice, Ferrari had looked to be among the teams who were coping better with a slippery Istanbul circuit that had recently been resurfaced and not used for Formula 1 since 2011 – when Vettel won the last race there for Red Bull.
But in a wet qualifying session, which was red-flagged during Q1 for heavy rain, the Scuderia had a disappointing time as both of their cars failed to reach Q3.
Vettel was a provisional 12th on the grid and his team-mate Charles Leclerc down in 14th, although there was the potential for both of those positions to change due to the stewards investigating a series of incidents involving impeding and ignoring yellow flags.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) November 14, 2020
Asked by Sky F1 about the conditions that were causing such a lack of grip, Vettel said: “It’s something we haven’t seen before. I think back to 2012 in Austin when the asphalt was new and the first sessions were very tricky.
“It’s also fun, but if you’re not able to generate enough tyre temperature that the tyres or the car start to work then it’s even worse than just being slippery.”
The four-time former World Champion expanded on the point about tyre temperature, saying that was what had made the difference in terms of his performance rather than the actual pace of the Ferrari.
“It was tough, a tricky session,” said the German. “Disappointed we didn’t make it through [to Q3] because even though it’s been slippery, we looked okay the whole weekend.
“In the end it was purely just the grip you had or didn’t have. The tarmac is very slippery and if you are able to generate more temperature, you find more grip.
“I think we were on the cooler side today. A couple of degrees makes all the difference but we couldn’t find them. It felt like the extreme [wet] tyre was our weakest compound.
“Getting temperature into the tyres was our weakness at the beginning of the season. We brought upgrades to improve that, to warm the rims and thus the tyres more, but it seems we still need to improve there.
“But we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. It will be a difficult one, starting on the dirty side as well. I think the pace is better than P12 but I don’t know what the conditions are tomorrow.”