Lewis Hamilton has described the newly-laid Istanbul Park circuit as “terrifying” following practice for the Turkish Grand Prix.
Hamilton has been left baffled by the decision of the circuit’s owners to lavish money on a new surface for Formula 1’s one-off return to the track after a nine-year absence, effectively creating “an ice rink”, according to the six-time F1 champion.
With the asphalt just 10 days old and with natural oils seeping through, the situation was compounded by the track being washed before the start of practice, and in conjunction with low temperatures, it meant the drivers were unable to get heat into their tyres.
Reflecting on his session in which he finished fourth quickest in his Mercedes, just over half-a-second behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Hamilton said: “It was a little bit of a disaster, to be honest.
“This track is such a fantastic circuit and I really don’t fully understand when they spend millions to re-do a surface of a track.
“I know it’s been sitting around for a long time, maybe they could have just cleaned it instead of wasting all their money.
“Now the track is worse than Portimão [for the recent Portuguese GP] with its new surface, so for us, the tyres aren’t working, and you can see it’s like an ice rink out there.
“So you don’t quite get the enjoyment of the lap as you would get at Istanbul, and I don’t see that changing.”
Asked for the feeling of an F1 driver being in a car in such conditions, considering that for a driver in a road car such a situation is terrifying, Hamilton replied: “It’s the same thing. It’s terrifying the whole way round.
“There are wet patches all over, so you’re on slicks accelerating, and it goes so fast, and it’s because you’re way below the temperature window for these tyres because they’re so hard and they work in a certain window.
“For some reason, this surface is so smooth. Older circuits are much more open between the stones, so it works the tyre more.