With next to no grip during FP1 and FP2 at Istanbul Park, the drivers struggled, but Valtteri Bottas says he was enjoying himself.
A combination of low temperatures and recently resurfaced tarmac caused the track to be hugely slippery throughout the day, causing drivers to struggle for pace and often lose control.
Lewis Hamilton described the new surface as “sh*t with a capital s,” but his team-mate, who finished ahead of him in both sessions, was having the time of his life out there.
“It was actually quite far away, initially, from the normal driving style that we’re used to in Formula 1, and I had great fun playing around. It was really enjoyable,” Bottas said after Friday practice.
“It’s really crucial in these conditions that you can get enough temperature quickly, and then you can have the upper hand on other drivers.
“For sure we learnt a lot from winter testing and even this season in some cold conditions, but it was pretty extreme today because of the way the tarmac is; how smooth it is.”
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The grip was so poor that the soft tyre was barely used in FP1, and initially, when drivers put in on in FP2, it looked to be less durable and not much quicker than the mediums.
However, as the sessions went on, the compound started to turn on and Bottas, like most others, set his fastest time of the day on it. He says it was comfortably the best tyre, and is expecting it to be difficult deciding race strategies.
“We only used one soft tyre today, but that felt like, by far, the best,” he added.
“There was better warm-up, some small graining on the front tyres but still providing the best grip, but we’ll see. The track will evolve a lot throughout the weekend and even during FP3 and qualifying.
“So there’s lots to learn from today, and it’s really tricky now to make the right decisions in terms of strategy for the race. There’s going to be many question marks.”
Bottas finished FP2 in P3, behind Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, and just ahead of his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who he needs to score eight points more than on race-day in order to stay in the title fight for a round longer.
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