Photo: FIA

Verstappen Tops Opening Practice on Slippery Istanbul Track


Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen topped the opening practice session for this weekend’s FIA Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix, with the Dutch driver beating team-mate Alex Albon by more than two tenths of a second in a session defined by the slippery nature of the recently re-surfaced Istanbul Park circuit.

Verstappen’s timesheet-topping lap of 1:35.077 was a full 10 seconds slower than the pole lap time set by Sebastian Vettel when F1 last visited Istanbul in 2011.

The treacherous conditions were revealed as soon as cars left the pit lane with drivers slithering around through the opening corners. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc then brought out the red flags when he slid wide ion the final corner and knocked over a bollard marking the pit lane entrance.

The collision exposed bolts on the track and there was a brief delay while the bollard was replaced.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was the first to find some real grip on the surface and he steadily chipped away at the P1 time before reaching 1:43.009 a third of the way through the session.

Verstappen then went quickest with a hard-tire lap of 1:42.753s and then dropped the benchmark to 1:41.741 before Bottas re-took top spot with a lap of 1:39.204 just before the hour mark. Verstappen then improved again to 1:37.151s.

The Red Bull driver held top spot for some time until he was dropped back Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who set a time of 1:36.085. Team-mate Charles Leclerc then took P2

Verstappen’s team-mate Albon went quickest as the final five minutes of the session arrived, setting a lap of 1:35.318s on hard compound tires but Verstappen was not to be denied and three minutes later he claimed P1 with his lap of 1:35.077.

Albon held P2 at the flag ahead of Leclerc, while AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took fourth place on medium tyres. Vettel finished fifth ahead of the second Alpha Tauri of Daniil Kvyat, McLaren’s Lando Norris and the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi. Ninth place went to Bottas, with Esteban Ocon 10th, while championship leader Lewis Hamilton finished 15th after only setting times in the final 20 minutes of the session.

2020 FIA Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:35.077 29 202.118
2 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1:35.318 0.241 27 201.607
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:35.507 0.430 26 201.208
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:35.543 0.466 26 201.132
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:35.620 0.543 29 200.970
6 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri/Honda 1:36.738 1.661 27 198.647
7 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1:37.216 2.139 21 197.671
8 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:37.503 2.426 21 197.089
9 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:37.629 2.552 23 196.834
10 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:38.428 3.351 23 195.237
11 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:38.508 3.431 18 195.078
12 Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 1:38.612 3.535 22 194.872
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1:39.484 4.407 21 193.164
14 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1:40.025 4.948 25 192.119
15 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:40.225 5.148 12 191.736
16 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:41.035 5.958 23 190.199
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:41.854 6.777 21 188.670
18 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:45.156 10.079 20 182.745
19 Carlos Sainz McLaren/Renault 1:46.462 11.385 12 180.503
20 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:49.256 14.179 17 175.887

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