What 2011 comparisons tell us about Turkey's no-grip surface

Formula 1 drivers had been chomping at the bit to experience the high-speed swoops of the Istanbul circuit with the current generation of high-downforce cars.

What 2011 comparisons tell us about Turkey's no-grip surface
Listen to this article

Talks ahead of the opening day of practice for the Turkish Grand Prix had been of the thrills to be expected, and what a joy it would be to take Istanbul's iconic Turn 8 completely flat out.

But all their hopes were wiped away as soon as the cars were unleashed on Friday morning, as the newly resurfaced track surface offered up almost zero grip.

Things were also not helped by track officials trying to improve the situation and washing the track early on Friday morning.

That only served to make things even more difficult for everyone as the surface had not fully dried by the time FP1 started.

As Max Verstappen said: "Yeah, let's not do that again."

While drivers steadily got accustomed to the conditions, even if Lewis Hamilton labelled it 'terrifying', it is the laptimes of the day that perhaps tell us the true story of the impact the track surface has made.

Read Also:

There is not much recent data to go on, but some comparisons with the 2011 season do at least offer us some basis to show how far off the current track is.

Back in 2011, Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Turkish Grand Prix with a laptime of 1m25.049 seconds.

During this morning's free practice session, Verstappen's best lap was 1m35.077 seconds – so more than 10 seconds adrift of that Vettel lap.

Verstappen's time would not have been enough to get within the necessary 107% back in 2011, and in fact the slowest man on the grid that year – Narain Karthikeyan – would have been nearly four seconds up the road with his 1m31.564s.

As the track conditions ramped up today though, and the drivers learned about how best to get their tyres working, Verstappen got down to a 1m28.330s in the afternoon.

That was still three seconds adrift of Vettel, but at least pointed to being roughly in the ballpark of what F1 cars should be doing.

Read Also:

However, what we need to take into account is just how much faster the current cars should be. For the huge downforce that 2020 F1 cars generate mean they should not just be matching what happened in 2011, they should be smashing those times.

Looking at some comparisons from race tracks that have featured this year and in 2011, we can see that current machinery should be lapping around five seconds per lap faster than they did back then.

Here are the comparisons for the Nurburgring and Barcelona to give us a rough indication.

German Grand Prix pole position time (Nurburgring)

2011: 1m30.079s
2020: 1m25.269s

Spanish Grand Prix pole position time (Barcelona)

2011: 1m20.981
2020: 1m15.584s

If we estimate that the cars should be five seconds per lap faster than 2011, then, with a decent track surface, the pole position time for Turkey this year should have been around 1m20s.

Getting down to that level seems very unlikely right now. But, according to some team insiders tonight who are furiously trying to recalculate their expectations for the weekend, F1 teams may even struggle to get near that 2011 pole time.

Verstappen spoke for many drivers about the disappointment of not being able to push as they would have liked. "Yes, it's a bit of a shame," he said.

Perhaps the only saving grace for drivers right now is that the original plans to wash the track again overnight are understood to have been abandoned – so at least the rubber laid down today may still be there tomorrow so they aren't starting from scratch again.

shares
comments

Related video

Why Mercedes thinks it’s only the third-best car in Turkey
Previous article

Why Mercedes thinks it’s only the third-best car in Turkey

Next article

Turkish Grand Prix qualifying – Start time, how to watch, channel & more

Turkish Grand Prix qualifying – Start time, how to watch, channel & more
The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon Prime

The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s teammate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy Prime

How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Prime

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Prime

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second-best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot.

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Prime

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022
2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2022 Formula 1 season came to a close at the Yas Marina Circuit, where the battle for second in the standings was decided, the wins in a season record extended and a retiring four-time world champion bowed out on a high. Here's how we rated the drivers

Formula 1
Nov 21, 2022
The factors that stopped Perez catching Leclerc in Verstappen's Abu Dhabi triumph Prime

The factors that stopped Perez catching Leclerc in Verstappen's Abu Dhabi triumph

Max Verstappen ended the 2022 Formula 1 season in fitting fashion with a dominant drive to victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. But behind him, early season rival Charles Leclerc achieved his target of securing the runner-up spot with a well-executed a one-stop strategy to beat Sergio Perez, whose pursuit on a two-stop strategy was hampered by several critical factors

Formula 1
Nov 21, 2022
Why the impact of FIA’s anti-bouncing metric is hard to judge Prime

Why the impact of FIA’s anti-bouncing metric is hard to judge

Faced with drivers complaining about the long-term health effects of car ‘bouncing’, the FIA stepped in to deal with it. JAKE BOXALL-LEGGE explains how the so-called ‘Aerodynamic Oscillation Metric’ works, and asks if it is fit for purpose?

Formula 1
Nov 20, 2022