Max Verstappen seals practice hat-trick as heavy rain falls at Istanbul Park circuit which was described as an “ice rink”, even in the dry; Charles Leclerc second, Lewis Hamilton fails to set a time; Watch qualifying live on Sky Sports F1 at 12pm
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 14/11/20 10:34am
Max Verstappen set the pace in difficult wet conditions in Turkish GP final practice as heavy rainfall gave drivers even more problems on an “ice rink” of an Istanbul Park circuit that was already low on grip.
The rain started on Saturday morning and got heavier through Practice Three, with Verstappen’s fastest time of a 1:48.485 coming on intermediate tyres in the Red Bull, almost a second clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Lewis Hamilton, who completed only three laps on full wet tyres and failed to set a time, said “this is as close to driving on ice as you can get” during a session that featured spins and drifts aplenty.
Water on a track which was described as “terrifying” even in the dry on Friday, was the last thing many drivers wanted and conditions got so bad towards the end of P3 that most decided to stay in the garage.
“I don’t think they should start qualifying if the conditions are like this,” said Sky F1’s Johnny Herbert.
There is, however, expected to be a break in the showers before qualifying, where an unpredictable shootout is in store.
Qualifying is live on Sky Sports F1 at 12pm, with build-up at 11am.
The recently re-laid Istanbul Park circuit, making its F1 return after nine years, has created havoc all weekend and Saturday’s final practice session was the most chaotic of the lot.
Drivers started on intermediate tyres but even when the rain wasn’t hammering down, spins were inevitable. Later in the session, Leclerc, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi narrowly avoided the barriers after losing control of their cars.
Heavier rain towards the end of the hour resulted in full wet tyres for the field with Daniil Kvyat describing it as “ice driving” and six-time world champion Hamilton struggling to even limp around the circuit in the Mercedes.
The end result was a hat-trick of fastest practice times for Verstappen, while Alex Albon also looked competitive in the Red Bull in third. He, and Leclerc, were the only drivers within five seconds of Verstappen.
“I really hope this eases off in the next 20 minutes or so and we can have an hour and an half with no rain before Qualy,” said Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok, who said drivers weren’t “racing, but surviving”.
“We need a happy balance of wet but entertaining racing and not a situation where they’re having to be so timid driving these cars around the track.
“But if it keeps going like this we’ve got no support races this weekend, we haven’t got people clearing the track, this water is just going to sit on the track and that could be a red-flag situation for qualifying.
“Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”
Turkish GP Practice Three Timesheet
|1) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:48.485|
|2) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+0.945|
|3) Alexander Albon||Red Bull||+1.574|
|4) Esteban Ocon||Renault||+5.412|
|5) Lando Norris||McLaren||+5.510|
|6) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+6.005|
|7) Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+7.092|
|8) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+7.181|
|9) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+7.393|
|10) Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+8.339|
|11) Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+9.990|
|12) Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+11.063|
|13) Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+13.840|
|14) Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+13.988|
|15) Romain Grosjean||Haas||+16.263|
|16) Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+17.866|
|17) Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri||+20.883|
|18) George Russell||Williams||No time set|
|19) Nicholas Latifi||Williams||No time set|
|20) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||No time set|