The drivers faced a unique challenge on F1’s return to Istanbul Park, as the newly resurfaced and washed track compounded with low temperatures created near to no grip conditions.
Verstappen’s time was ten seconds slower than Sebastian Vettel’s pole lap the last time the circus visited Turkey, those two drivers’ current teammates occupied second and third respectively.
On their own, the times paint an interesting picture but there’s next to nothing we can take from this towards potential qualifying a race performance.
For much of the session the difference between lap times was measured in seconds rather than tenths or hundredths, and around halfway through the session, only six drivers would’ve passed the 107% rule in qualifying.
Behind third-placed Leclerc was Pierre Gasly and Vettel completing a strange-looking top five. It was a case of the later, the better to set a time.
While not exactly high-drama, Leclerc and Gasly provided maybe the most highlight-worthy moments – the Monegasque took out the bollard at the pit entrance which brought out an early red flag. Meanwhile Gasly won the award for neatest pirouette with a spin at Turn 1 in a session where drivers actually staying in control was a surprise.
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With about 15 minutes to go in the session the Ferraris were running a one-two, but both Red Bulls improved marginally to take that accolade at the flag.
For much of the session Bottas was quickest – albeit with a time 15 or 20 seconds off the Istanbul Park lap record posted by Juan Pablo Montoya in 2005. He did much of the early running, looking like he was on a one-man mission to rubber in the track.
Carlos Sainz retired early from the session due to an electrical issue – something he likely won’t be too gutted to miss out on, while his teammate was the highest-placed Brit in seventh.
Daniil Kvyat was in front of him, while Antonio Giovinazzi, Bottas and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top ten.
CLASSIFICATION: END OF FP1 ⏱️
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