Max Verstappen completed a practice clean sweep at the Turkish Grand Prix in a soaking wet FP3 in Istanbul.
The Red Bull Racing driver’s best effort was a 1m48.48s, enough to be 0.945s quicker than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and 1.5s ahead of teammate Alex Albon, but times meant little at the end of the barely representative hour of running that featured precious few flying laps.
Drizzle had set in at Istanbul Park 40 minutes before the start of final practice and intensified as the session progressed, turning conditions treacherous.
The circuit was extremely slippery on account of resurfacing work completed less than two weeks ago. Already in the dry on Friday the oily asphalt and cool conditions combined to offer minimum grip with which to warm the tires; the slick of rain and an ambient and track temperature stuck below 55 degrees made the track borderline undriveable.
With qualifying scheduled to begin two hours from the end of the session, there are doubts the grid-setting hour will be able to start on time if conditions persist and prevent the track from draining.
Intermediate tires were sampled from the outset, but after 10 minutes conditions deteriorated and demanded the full wet compound, though even this most extreme tread did little for driveability.
With a chance the weather will persist into qualifying and potentially Sunday’s race, teams opted to curtail running instead to save tires for the competitive sessions.
Only three drivers completed 10 or more laps, with most of the rest contenting themselves with a handful of attempted flyers before returning to the garage.
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 14, 2020
Top of mind was the risk of a crash so soon before qualifying. Leclerc and Esteban Ocon tangled at Turn 12, the Monegasque sliding down the Frenchman’s inside and tapping his rear-left corner, sending the Renault into a spin.
Ocon emerged unscathed, but Leclerc later reported his steering was misaligned.
“Undriveable like this,” Leclerc radioed. “Tires are too cold.”
Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi spun off at Turn 2 with five minutes remaining and just kissed the inside barrier. The Italian emerged with only minor damage to his front wing and plenty to say about the conditions over team radio as he slipped and slid his way back to the garage.
Lewis Hamilton similarly returned to the track late to assess its status ahead of qualifying and was unequivocal with his feedback.
“There’s just no grip out here,” he said before returning to his garage. “Shocking.”
The Briton ended the session last without setting a lap time.