Turkish GP: Learning From The Practice

Turkish GP Practice

Practice sessions help the teams perform better when it matters the most i.e. Qualifying and scoring points on Sunday. However, those sessions don’t generally have a stack of interesting things to offer to the fans. But this weekend as we step closer to the race in Turkey, the popcorns are up for grab..

Friday Recap

Apart from seeing Red Bull paying homage to their engine supplier – Honda, by sporting an one-off white livery at Istanbul Park; the performance of the drivers was also something to look at. But with different eyes because Max Verstappen struggled a lot driving his RB16B.

In FP2, the Dutchman complained about mid-corner instability. This raised a few eyebrows as he would not want to compromise his drive this weekend where Hamilton is getting a 10 grid-place penalty. Sunday can provide him with a chance of pulling off a decent gap between him and leading drivers’ champion Lewis Hamilton who is set to take a new engine on race day.

His teammate, Sergio Perez recovered from P10 in FP1 to P2 in FP2. After a dry spell of bagging a trophy, his confidence with the car can repeat last year’s Turkish Grand Prix where he went on to take the second place.

On the Ferrari side of the pitlane, there are mixed emotions. With Charles Leclerc putting good lap times, Carlos Sainz will be a bit worried as he will go further back of the grid come race day. This is due to the new power unit he will take just like Charles did back in Sochi.

The dry conditions saw Lewis Hamilton at the top in both FP1 and FP2. Leclerc made it in the front three position in both the sessions.

Wet FP3 at Turkish GP

The fun began from the very start in FP3. The blankets coming off the wet tyres for a rainy session. Drivers went on with the blue tyres and opted for the green (intermediates) when the water on track decreased.

Yellow flags were waved multiple times as cars went off the track on various occasions due to the slippery surface. At Turn 9, Max’s car performed a 360° on the track while Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel also beautifully piroutted off the bitumen, with no damage to his car’s floor.

The session was also briefly halted when  George Russell found himself stuck in the gravel trap. His Williams lost control and spun as he was approaching Turn 2, bringing out red flags. He was unable to set a lap time later on.

The showers brought out a different result. AlphaTauri driver, Pierre Gasly was the fastest in the last practice with the Red Bull of Verstappen and Perez following respectively. Lewis Hamilton who was sealing the first spot on Friday was back at P18. His teammate, Valtteri Bottas was at P9. The Ferrari duo looked strong and so did the Alpine of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.

So what do we infer from these sessions in Turkey?
They gave a great insight as to how the performances of the drivers differ. With dry Friday sessions to a wet Saturday FP3, teams were exposed to both – high and low grip. Now it depends on which team processes the collected data to their advantage.

Throw in softer tyres, overtaking opportunities, rain, penalties, a neck-hurting Turn 8 and there you have it – a perfect race weekend.

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