For the second time in a decade, racing has resumed in Istanbul with plenty of entertainment expected this weekend at a track with lots of overtaking opportunities, elevation changes and high-speed corners.
Lewis Hamilton moved his W12 straight to the top of the timesheet in FP1 this morning with a 1:27.439s, already two seconds quicker than times seen on Friday last year – which is down to the improved grip on track.
Max Verstappen wasted no time when he arrived out this morning and pushed the championship leader back down on his first lap – crossing the line 0.4s faster than Hamilton.
It was confirmed this morning that Hamilton will take a 10-place grid penalty on Sunday for taking on a fourth Internal Combustion Engine.
He won’t be starting from the back of the grid, as Verstappen did in Russia because only one component has been changed, so Qualifying will be all-important for the world champion to secure the highest positive possible with that penalty.
However, the new engine was allowing the British driver to post incredible laps at the Istanbul Park Circuit already, with a 1:24.511 – 1.4s faster than any other driver.
With 27 minutes remaining, Valtteri Bottas was 0.8s off the pace while Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen are just within a second of Hamilton’s current time.
Charles Leclerc then moved up to third for Ferrari, and was just half a second off Hamilton but behind Verstappen.
Carlos Sainz meanwhile, who is also serving an engine penalty this weekend, was fifth behind Valtteri Bottas.
Here were the results at the end of the session: