The Friday in F1 Turkish GP was a smoother run for most apart from few offs and spins which was more due to the wind factor.

Even though Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has a 10-place grid penalty, the Brit showed a strong hand on Friday of F1 Turkish GP on a much grippier surface. He led the way in both the sessions comfortably as closest rivals Red Bull struggled for pace. Even his teammate Valtteri Bottas couldn’t match him at the front.

Ferrari, though, seems to be in the mix albeit with only Charles Leclerc as Carlos Sainz will start from the back. For Hamilton, he felt good straight up and is aiming no less than a pole considering that he will start 10 places behind, which will be behind Max Verstappen. The Dutchman did not enjoy his Friday after he felt there was no balance on his side.

It was not just him but also teammate Perez, who faced similar issues. Hamilton’s penalty seems to be a saving grace, but Verstappen will have to make the most of the situation. Red Bull has time to fix up the issue via set-up changes, which will keep Alexander Albon awake long into the night on the simulator.

Hamilton: “We started off with a really good set-up. The first session was really strong, we made some changes, and the track is evolving and feeling different. The changes were okay; I’m not sure it felt as good as it did in the first session in the second session but we’ve got lots of good findings and hopefully take those forward. I don’t know how much more there is but we always find something during the evenings.

“So I definitely think we can find just a little bit tonight and into tomorrow if it’s not raining. And then I have a lot of work to do Sunday, either way, whatever the case, so just going to try and focus on how I can get the best out there. I need to be on pole to limit the loss and then of course I need to understand the car to do the best in terms of long run, so just trying to find the balance, no real difference to any other weekend.

“Looking at Ferrari, they are going to be hard to pass, as are Alpine and McLaren. They seem to be improving more and more through the year. I don’t know where that’s coming from, if they’re bringing upgrades, I don’t know. It’s not really my focus, but it’s good to see them getting stronger and I hope they’re strong next year.”

Verstappen: “I don’t know yet. I mean, hopefully of course it will improve – otherwise it’s not looking too good. We’ll see what we can do overnight. I mean, we tried a few things compared to FP1 but also FP1 wasn’t that great. We’re still looking around a bit what to do. Of course it’s a bit different here; we don’t have a lot of data from here with these kind of cars so it seems like we have a bit of an evening ahead to try and make it a bit better because today wasn’t the best of days.”

Perez: “Overall, yes, a pretty challenging Friday. Mercedes looked strong, but hopefully overnight we are able to chip away a couple of tenths and be in the mix for tomorrow. “It’s all about compromise, you know? I think if you try to get the ideal balance for quali on one lap, you compromise a bit too much the long run pace, which is important around here because overtaking is relatively easy. I expect some cars are going to try it on Sunday if it’s dry. But other than that, I think [it was a] positive Friday and hopefully we are able to chip a couple of tenths away and we should be looking good.”

While Mercedes and Red Bull carry on their P1 fight, Ferrari seems to have the upperhand over McLaren at Istanbul Park over P3 tussle. Both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz looked to be in a good shape, while Land Norris was there about but not setting the stage on fire. His F1 teammate Daniel Ricciardo unfortunately did not string a good one-time lap.

That’s why his pace on one lap couldn’t be ascertained, although, race wise he seemed to be in a decent shape. Meanwhile, Leclerc’s teammate Sainz was happy with the pace, but as much with the penalty he has which will set him behind and fighting through to the Top 10. He will have the likes of Alpine to cross, who seemed to be in a good shape.

Both Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were in a much better mood after Friday in F1 Turkish GP. They are in the Top 10 mix along with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly. Although, his teammate Yuki Tsunoda doesn’t seem to be too much behind in the pecking order, which makes Saturday and Sunday a close one for several of mid-field teams.

Sainz: “I am excited; maybe a bit less, because now I see where Charles is in the low-fuel and you see that he could be fighting for a podium, then it makes me a bit regret the fact that I’m not going to be there on Saturday to fight for it and on Sunday to fight for it. It just makes me feel a bit more down, just because I wish I could be there up with him, fighting for higher places, looking at where the pace of the car is this weekend. Basically I did only a couple of laps trying the car in lower fuel just to get a reference of the car in low-fuel, but pretty much 99% of the session was done in higher fuel and trying to see the degradation of the tyres, trying different set-ups to also try and help the team and myself to understand the problems that we have with the front tyres.”

Leclerc: “There’s just more grip and the lap times are much, much quicker, so the feeling has been good all day, but again, we shouldn’t get carried away because I feel like the top teams have more to show. And also on high-fuel it’s been looking good, so everything looks positive for now. But again, it’s only a Friday, so for now I want to keep my head down, keep working as hard as we can, to try and fine-tune the car, to have a perfect quali tomorrow.”

Norris: “It feels like forever when you have a bad weekend, you just want to keep going again and you kind of get it out of the way by getting another one in. Since Sochi, it’s felt like quite a long time. I mean, I’ve been quite busy in the week since then, just taking my mind off it a lot, but definitely just getting back to the main job, getting back into a Formula 1 [car] has taken my mind off it and yes, it’s still probably come up in every briefing we’ve talked about so far reminding us about the things we have learned. Nothing bad, but excited to be back here, another weekend.”

Ocon: “Yes, it was mega fun today. I think… we all were expecting something amazing from this track when we arrived in 2020, and we couldn’t really feel this layout and with some grip now it really feels great. Amazing fun today, hopefully we can have some more tomorrow.  We will see, it is only FP2. Of course, I think we understood a lot of things today. We went from being pretty [close to] the top five in FP1 to being in the top 10 in FP2, you know, experiencing a lot of different compounds and stuff. It was quite an interesting day and there is good performance to come from us tomorrow. But we look competitive [with] both cars and that’s the good news.”

Gasly: “It’s just a balance issue – I was not happy with the balance with a lot of understeer and it was just a way of explaining myself. At the moment we just need to analyse everything. For sure [the balance is] a limiting factor, I believe not only for us, but we know that we need to improve it if we want to be faster tomorrow. Today didn’t feel good and we were ninth, so I think tomorrow we’ll definitely try to do better. For sure we’ll try to beat [Alpine]. It’s very close, I think it’s only a tenth, but we are a tenth behind instead of being a tenth ahead so we’ll try to find this extra pace for tomorrow.”

Behind this pack were Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Williams and Haas, with the former three F1 outfits only with a real chance of breaking in the Top 10. The former’s Sebastian Vettel reckoned that the team has learnt a lot across the two practice sessions and that they have more in their tank to push itself towards or into the Top 10 places.

With Pirelli talking about soft to be used less even in F1 qualifying, the teams like Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo and Williams could use them to push themselves into the Top 10. Certainly, Antonio Giovinazzzi managed to do so in FP2, as he felt much better all-day long. Over at Williams, both felt better on race pace but not as much on one-lap pace, as Haas duo felt good having logged over 100 laps together without much trouble.

Mario Isola: “I believe that the soft is quite an aggressive choice. Consider that when we selected the tyres, the three compounds for this race, we were not aware of this superficial treatment that they were planning. So looking at the data from last year, we decided to go one step softer. The soft is quite an aggressive choice. And I believe that some teams were using the soft today just to get rid of them, and focus on the medium and hard for the race, if they want to plan a one-stop strategy.

“I believe that we will see more than two or three cars trying to qualify on the soft, because the delta lap time between the soft and the medium is very small. So it’s not like one second, where you take a big risk to go through Q2 with a medium instead of the soft, with this small difference, probably more cars are trying to qualify on the medium compound. The level of grip increased quite a lot.

“This is probably due to the fact that we don’t have the bitumen on top, and let’s say the stones are visible, and therefore generating more grip compared to last year. The increase in grip is clear, because the lap times are four to five seconds quicker than last year. So I believe that there is no doubt on the increase the level of grip. We were expecting some graining, and the graining is visible on all the three compounds, especially on the softer one, and especially on the front right.

“The graining on the inside shoulder is accelerating the wear. And so it will be very important for the team to measure and analyse the data from FP2 to understand what is the wear life of the tyres, because this is information that we don’t have from last year, last year, as both quali and the race were wet. As I said that tarmac was completely different compared to this year. And we were one step harder. So the data in terms of wear and wear profiles that we measured last year are not relevant.

“Usually we are informed by the FIA if there is any change in tarmac, or if the circuit decides to resurface, or make any special treatment. In that case, probably it was a late decision from the promoter, I suspect. When they decided to make this treatment, we have been informed. So we had that information. But it was too late because we already produced the tyres, and they were already available for the race. It’s not an easy period also for production and logistics. So we made the tyres and then after that we were made aware of this change.”

Here’s how F1 Turkish GP FP1 panned out

Here’s how F1 Turkish GP FP2 panned out