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Verstappen heads Red Bull 1-2 in opening session

NEWS STORY
13/11/2020

Ahead of today's opening session, the air temperature is 14.2 degrees C, while the track temperature is 17.6 degrees. It is bright but cool.

Before the cars have even turned a wheel, one man is already celebrating, for at McLaren, Lando Norris is 21 today.

A man who could be celebrating at the end of the weekend is Lewis Hamilton, who only needs to out-score his teammate, Valtteri Bottas by 8 points to secure his seventh title.

While F1 hasn't visited Istanbul since 2011, for of the current drivers have raced here, Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, the latter three having previously won here.

The light go green and Verstappen is among the first out, along with Norris, Sainz, Vettel, Grosjean and Leclerc.

"It's like driving on ice," reports Verstappen. "It's worse than ice," adds Norris, "I can't even go flat on the straight."

At this point it's worth noting that other than being cool, the newly resurfaced track is slightly damp after it was washed - yes washed - overnight and Pirelli has brought the hardest tyres in its range.

Leclerc runs wide and momentarily picks up a bollard in the process.

Vettel posts the first time of the weekend, a 2:01.145, with Sainz posting a 2:02.840, only to have his time deleted.

At which point the session is red-flagged in order that Leclerc's offending bollard can be removed.

All drivers were on hards bar Russell who was on softs.

Ah ha, it appears that the bollard was bolted into the track, and with Leclerc having put paid to said bollard a number of nasty looking bolts were left sticking out.

Ahead of the restart, Ricciardo opines that it would be "better if it rains".

The lights go green but understandably there is no mad rush back to action.

Finally, Bottas breaks the deadlock. Within just a few corners he is clearly regretting his enthusiasm as the Mercedes slips and slides all over the place.

On his first flying lap, the Finn runs wide in Turn 1. "This is insane," comments Magnussen.

Bottas posts a 1:48.426, over 12s up on Vettel's time, only to have his time deleted for running wide in Turn 1.

As Gasly heads out, Bottas posts 44.948. This time it stands.

Onboard footage from Gasly's AlphaTauri shows the Frenchman working the wheel like crazy as he attempts to remain on the black stuff.

Echoing Ricciardo, Verstappen suggests that he would be quicker on rain tyres.

Gasly pits after two scary install laps, as former rally star Raikkonen heads out.

Bottas improves to 43.009 as he is warned that the damp patch on the main straight, which is in the shade, is compromising his lap from the outset.

"It's been as good first experience of rally-cross," jokes Gasly.

Meanwhile, taking on his fourth ICE, TC and MGU-H of the season means that George Russell will start from the back of the grid.

Raikkonen goes second with a 2:00.500 as Verstappen heads out. The Iceman subsequently improves to 57.053.

After 33 minutes, all but Kvyat and Hamilton have made an appearance.

Verstappen posts a 50.118 only to have it deleted for exceeding the limits at Turn 1.

Verstappen is told that while his rear temperatures are on the up, front tyre temperatures have dropped.

Vettel goes third with a 51.650, ahead of Sainz and Raikkonen.

A 56.030 sees Albon go sixth. The Thai driver subsequently improves to 53.345 as Leclerc posts 49.809.

Kvyat heads out leaving Hamilton as the only no-show.

Gasly goes fifth (50.699), ahead of Sainz, Raikkonen, Albon, Magnussen, Grosjean and Russell.

Vettel leapfrogs his Ferrari teammate with a 46.254.

Out come the yellows as Gasly spins and goes cross-country in Turn 1, the Frenchman clearly caught out by that damp patch.

A 42.753 sees Verstappen go top as Hamilton finally heads out.

As Verstappen consolidates his top spot with a 41.741, Leclerc goes third (43.297).

Hamilton pits having failed to post a time.

At the (delayed) point at which a set of tyres have to be handed back, Verstappen is quickest, ahead of Bottas, Leclerc, Vettel, Sainz, Albon, Perez, Gasly, Raikkonen and Norris. Ricciardo and Hamilton are the only drivers still to post a time.

All the times have been posted on hards, other than Russell's 2:02.106 which was posted on softs.

Ricciardo heads out on to an empty track and posts a 54.909, he is subsequently joined by Bottas.

The Finn goes quickest in S1, maintaining the pace in the second sector. As Ricciardo improves to 53.477 to go 12th, Bottas crosses the line at 40.806.

Ocon heads out on mediums. The Frenchman improves to 8th with a 49.154, which might be enough for some of his colleagues to follow suit.

Indeed, Kvyat heads out on the yellow-banded rubber, as Bottas improves to 39.204.

Ocon goes fifth (46.244) as Bottas continues to improve (38.915).

Verstappen goes top with a 38.523 while a 42.498 sees Ocon further consolidate his fifth place. Kvyat, also on mediums, goes sixth (43.066).

Yellows are waved as Sainz parks up at Turn 7. "Engine, power steering," he reports.

The VSC is deployed.

Gasly (mediums) is told that he's doing a good job with his tyres as Verstappen improves to 37.151.

With 20 minutes remaining, Hamilton heads out again, on hards.

Vettel improves to second (37.159), Gasly third (37.780) and Albon fifth (38.542).

Hamilton goes 18th with a 53.678, subsequently improving to 48.545.

Meanwhile, Vettel - winner of the last race here in 2011 - goes quickest with a 36.085. Teammate Leclerc goes second (36.668).

Leclerc goes top with a 35.507 as Hamilton continues to chip away at his time, the Briton currently on 43.650.

A 40.225 sees Hamilton go 8th, only to be demoted when Norris posts 39.158.

Albon is told that he's losing out to Verstappen in Turn 8 because the Dutchman is lifting a little bit later.

The Thai driver responds by going quickest, crossing the line at 35.318.

Bottas spins at Turn 9, as Hamilton pits.

Fourth-placed Gasly is the highest placed medium runner, as teammate Kvyat spins in Turn 12.

Following a close encounter with Ricciardo a clearly fired-up Verstappen uses all the track - and then some - in his efforts to pass Giovinazzi. The Dutchman crosses the line at 35.077 to go top.

The session ends. Verstappen is quickest, ahead of Albon, Leclerc, Gasly, Vettel, Kvyat, Norris, Giovinazzi, Bottas and Ocon.

Latifi is eleventh, ahead of Perez, Stroll, Grosjean, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Ricciardo, Sainz and Russell.

Check out our Friday gallery from Istanbul, here.

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