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 contemporary 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 observe to treatment and the bitumen remained saturated with slippery oils.
That scenario, allied to Pirelli bringing the toughest tyres in its vary final yr, 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 throughout the remaining two days of the 2020 occasion exacerbated their struggles, with a number of drivers spinning off – some a number of occasions – throughout the race that ended with Lewis Hamilton profitable 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 observe floor rougher to lift grip ranges by exposing the gaps between the stones, with Pirelli additionally making its compound alternative 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 truly joyful that it was like this as a result of we had been aggressive, we had been preventing for excellent positions”.
Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
He continued: “And clearly a podium was potential.
“I loved that weekend – it didn’t find yourself the best way I needed, by being slightly below the rostrum, being fourth.
“However, total, it was a optimistic weekend for us, and I hope we are able to reproduce that this yr.
“I’ve heard some issues have modified – clearly they’ve washed the observe a number of occasions.
“So, let’s see if it’s as dangerous as final yr. I don’t assume it is going to be as dangerous, however hopefully it would nonetheless be slippery and hopefully it would nonetheless profit us.”
McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo defined that the water-blasting work ought to “give [the track surface] a number of extra edges so we are able to get the tyre to chew into it a bit extra”.
He added: “Skilled observe builder right here!”
Leclerc’s Ferrari team-mate, Carlos Sainz Jr, mentioned “we’re all anticipating it to be higher than final yr” and that “it will be fairly a shock to have the identical situations as final yr, as a result of final yr was very troublesome and really troublesome additionally to know why the grip was so significantly low”.
The Spaniard additionally instructed if the water-blasting has modified the grip-level significantly, then the sector may encounter “excessive” tyre degradation with the observe’s demanding format.
“If it is extra like Portimao, the place the grip isn’t excessive however it’s okay, then needs to be good enjoyable,” mentioned Sainz.
“If it is like Barcelona or Silverstone – actually excessive grip ranges – then it needs to be additionally fairly thrilling as a result of then the tyre put on could possibly be fairly a difficulty.
“Perhaps for my private curiosity I need them on the extra excessive [side]. Then extra various things that may occur and possibly extra alternative comes for me.”
Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, walks the observe
Photograph 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 injury, mentioned that if the grip ranges have improved then Istanbul’s well-known, multi-apex Flip eight received’t be “a lot of a nook with our vehicles these days”.
He added: “If the grip picks up, I anticipate it to in all probability be flat. If it’s not, it’s a distinct story.”
Moist climate can be predicted to impression 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 yr, we’ll be hoping it’s not as slippery,” mentioned Vettel. “This yr we have now spectators, so for the spectators, it’s in all probability not so good to have moist situations.
“However for us I believe it may combine issues up, so I’m pretty open minded.”
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who spun six occasions within the 2020 race and was lapped by Hamilton as his faint title hopes had been lastly extinguished, mentioned his squad had “discovered quite a bit concerning the tyres” in current 2021 occasions.
“Recently 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 observe may have a bit extra grip than final yr, as a result of it was fairly excessive final yr, even within the dry. So, wanting ahead to seeing how it’s.”