September 18, 2021

P2: Verstappen fastest from Leclerc, Hamilton fourth

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Max Verstappen fastest in both Friday practice sessions on ice-like Istanbul Park circuit; Charles Leclerc second in Practice Two, ahead of the Mercedes; Lewis Hamilton, who can clinch seventh title at Turkish GP, 0.8s off the pace in fourth

By Matt Morlidge

Last Updated: 13/11/20 1:35pm

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen holds the advantage heading into the Turkish GP weekend after securing a Friday double by topping Practice Two, as an unpredictable – and slippery – opening day of F1’s return to Istanbul Park threw up several surprising results.

Verstappen set the pace with a 1:28.330, which was around 7s faster than what he led opening practice with, but still some way short of the times expected around a usually fast and ferocious Istanbul Park track – compared to an ice rink for much of the day as drivers struggled for grip.

Charles Leclerc was Dutchman’s unexpected closest challenger in the Ferrari, 0.4s behind, as heavy favourites Mercedes – while much more competitive than the morning – only sealed third and fourth.

Valtteri Bottas was half a second slower than Verstappen while Lewis Hamilton, aiming to clinch a record-equalling seventh Formula 1 championship this weekend, was over eight-tenths off the pace.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Alex Albon had led the session in the early stages before slipping back to fifth, as times, unusually, ramped up the longer drivers stayed out on the quickest soft tyres.

The Istanbul circuit, hosting its first F1 race since 2011, was only resurfaced two weeks ago and that lack of grip, coupled with sweeping fast corners, means a tough-to-predict weekend is in store.

More to follow.