Max Verstappen looks back on the first day of the Turkish Grand Prix with little pleasure. The Dutch driver came second in the first free practice, but finished fifth in the afternoon and was clearly not satisfied afterwards.
The Dutch Red Bull driver did receive some good news at the start of the first session. Mercedes finally took the plunge on Friday morning and decided to give Lewis Hamilton a new internal combustion engine (ICE) this weekend. It will give the Englishman a ten-place grid penalty on Sunday, which is of course a bonus for Verstappen in view of the exciting title battle.
Yet Verstappen could not dwell too long on this boost. He was significantly slower than Hamilton in the first free practice, the gap was no less than four tenths of a second. And even in the afternoon session, Red Bull was unable to make a fist despite some interventions. In fact, the difference between the two title rivals even increased to six tenths of a second.
Lewis Hamilton was fastest on Friday’s Turkish Grand Prix (Photo: BSR Agency)
And so there is work to be done, Verstappen concluded after the training sessions. “Of course Lewis will get a penalty on Sunday, but we have to focus on ourselves. It looks like we still have a lot to go through tonight, because today was not the best day.” Between the two training sessions, Red Bull tried to improve the RB16B with a number of adjustments, but that did not help. “We tried a few different things between VT1 and VT2,” explained Verstappen. “But we are still looking for improvements because we don’t have a lot of data on these cars for this track.”
The only data the teams do have is that of last year. At that time, however, Istanbul Park looked a lot like an ice rink due to all kinds of circumstances. This year the track is a lot better and that was noticeable, Verstappen noted. “It’s a very nice track, especially with the improved conditions. Hopefully we can make some improvements before qualifying as we have some challenges. I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend and getting back on track.”