Forward of this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix, the Istanbul Park circuit was water-blasted to make the floor rougher following an FIA suggestion within the aftermath of the 2020 occasion.
The Istanbul floor had been re-laid with recent asphalt forward of Turkey’s return to the F1 calendar for the primary time since 2011, however because the work was solely accomplished three weeks earlier than the 2020 race there was not sufficient time for the monitor to remedy and the bitumen remained saturated with slippery oils.
That state of affairs, allied to Pirelli bringing the toughest tyres in its vary final 12 months, left the drivers struggling to construct tyre temperature and feeling like they had been driving on a floor “worse than ice”, per McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Rain through the remaining two days of the 2020 occasion exacerbated their struggles, with a number of drivers spinning off – some a number of instances – through the race that ended with Lewis Hamilton successful and clinching his seventh world title.
The water-blasting work, which Autosport understands was solely accomplished in the previous couple of weeks, is aimed toward making the monitor floor rougher to boost grip ranges by exposing the gaps between the stones, with Pirelli additionally making its compound selection one step softer for 2021 to supply additional help.
Leclerc mentioned that he “remembers that lots of people complained [in 2020], however I used to be one of many solely ones that was really joyful that it was like this as a result of we had been aggressive, we had been preventing for superb positions”.
Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
He continued: “And clearly a podium was attainable.
“I loved that weekend – it didn’t find yourself the best way I wished, by being just below the rostrum, being fourth.
“However, general, it was a Positive weekend for us, and I hope we will reproduce that this 12 months.
“I’ve heard some issues have modified – clearly they’ve washed the monitor a number of instances.
“So, let’s see if it’s as dangerous as final 12 months. I don’t suppose will probably be as dangerous, however hopefully it is going to nonetheless be slippery and hopefully it is going to nonetheless profit us.”
McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo defined that the water-blasting work ought to “give [the track surface] a couple of extra edges so we will get the tyre to chunk into it a bit extra”.
He added: “Skilled monitor builder right here!”
Leclerc’s Ferrari team-mate, Carlos Sainz Jr, mentioned “we’re all anticipating it to be higher than final 12 months” and that “it will be fairly a shock to have the identical circumstances as final 12 months, as a result of final 12 months was very troublesome and really troublesome additionally to grasp why the grip was so notably low”.
The Spaniard additionally steered if the water-blasting has modified the grip-level significantly, then the sphere may encounter “excessive” tyre degradation with the monitor’s demanding format.
“If it is extra like Portimao, the place the grip shouldn’t be excessive however it’s okay, then ought to be good enjoyable,” mentioned Sainz.
“If it is like Barcelona or Silverstone – actually excessive grip ranges – then it ought to be additionally fairly thrilling as a result of then the tyre put on may very well be fairly a problem.
“Possibly for my private curiosity I need them on the extra excessive [side]. Then extra various things that may occur and perhaps extra alternative comes for me.”
Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, walks the monitor
Picture by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
Lance Stroll, who claimed pole within the moist 2020 qualifying and led the primary half of the race earlier than fading away to ninth, reportedly as a consequence of entrance wing harm, mentioned that if the grip ranges have improved then Istanbul’s well-known, multi-apex Flip 8 received’t be “a lot of a nook with our vehicles these days”.
He added: “If the grip picks up, I anticipate it to most likely be flat. If it’s not, it’s a special story.”
Moist climate can also be predicted to affect the 2021 Turkey occasion, which Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel mentioned he doesn’t “thoughts if it rains once more” as a result of “it was good enjoyable”.
“It was very slippery final 12 months, we’ll be hoping it’s not as slippery,” mentioned Vettel. “This 12 months we now have spectators, so for the spectators, it’s most likely not so good to have moist circumstances.
“However for us I believe it may combine issues up, so I’m pretty open minded.”
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who spun six instances within the 2020 race and was lapped by Hamilton as his faint title hopes had been lastly extinguished, mentioned his squad had “realized loads concerning the tyres” in latest 2021 occasions.
“Currently within the rain, it hasn’t been too dangerous,” he mentioned. “[Mercedes has learned] particularly the working temperatures, pressures for the inters and wets.
“[But] I actually hope this monitor may have a bit extra grip than final 12 months, as a result of it was fairly excessive final 12 months, even within the dry. So, trying ahead to seeing how it’s.”