Why Mercedes' Istanbul edge is both stronger and weaker than it seems
Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton dominated the opening day of action for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, on the Istanbul circuit’s much improved track surface. But the Black Arrows squad’s position isn’t quite what it seems. Here’s why...
Formula 1 drivers are famously never entirely happy. There’s always something. The pack arrived at the Istanbul Park track for its return to the Formula 1 calendar after a nine-year absence in 2020, eager to sample one of Hermann Tilke’s best and most famous creations. And they got a horrible surprise.
The re-laid asphalt surface was saturated with slippery oils as it had only been completed three weeks before that event took place and it hadn’t had time to cure properly. That meant even in the dry Friday practice sessions that were held before the wet qualifying and race sessions in which Lance Stroll and Lewis Hamilton starred, conditions were considered rather appalling. “Worse than ice,” per Lando Norris.
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