Sebastian Vettel is back in Turkey nine years after the last Grand Prix was held at Istanbul Park, a race which he won. Both he and teammate Charles Leclerc, who has never raced before on the 5.332 metre track which was inaugurated in 2005, did their track familiarisation on bikes, stopping at the key points of the circuit to assess the tarmac and work out the best lines to take.
With the media. The first question in the afternoon press conference was related to the circuit and aimed at Seb who made the headlines here 14 years ago by setting the fastest time on his Formula 1 debut during a free practice session whilst running as a third driver. “I don’t have many memories of that day, even though I think it was very important in my racing career. On the other hand, I do have great memories of this track and especially of the last time we raced here. Riding around today, I rediscovered a really interesting, challenging circuit with many elevation changes and spectacular sections.” The media’s attention then turned to Charles who talked about the last five races, in which he has consistently finished in the points. “I think that the car has undoubtedly improved thanks to the upgrades we brought between Russia and Portimao,” said the Monegasque, “and I think that as a team, we have also made progress. On paper, Istanbul Park does not seem to favour our SF1000 but I’m curious to get out on track and see the true value of our package, as well as trying out the famous turn 8. After all, it is perhaps in the most difficult years that one learns the most,” he continued, “and that is why on a personal level, I can say I am satisfied with my season. I have made fewer mistakes than last year and I think I have grown in many ways, especially in the races, for example in tyre management. In a season like this one, where every detail can make the difference, I believe I have managed to work on myself, on my technical sensitivity and on how I can manage the car and help the team do better. I’m convinced that at the end of this season, I will be a stronger driver.”
Calendar. As has happened several times recently, Seb confirmed what Charles said. “He manages to make the most of the car, getting everything out of it, but I don't think he's made an amazing leap in quality this year, he has always been very strong, both in 2018 with Sauber and in his first year as a Ferrari driver,” he said. The four-time world champion then spoke about the new calendar. “We knew that we were heading for a season with 23 races and I must admit that for us drivers, it does not change much. The real effort is for the team, the mechanics and the logistical crew. This must always be taken into consideration and instead of only asking the drivers, it would make sense to ask the other elements of the team too.”
Programme. Both Charles and Sebastian ended the day by meeting with their respective crews. In the engineers and drivers’ meeting, they reviewed the work that awaits them starting tomorrow when the cars will go out on track for free practice. The two sessions are scheduled for 11 and 15 local time (9 and 13 CET), while the third session will be on Saturday morning at 12 (10 CET). Qualifying will start at 15 (13 CET), while the eighth Turkish Grand Prix will get underway on Sunday 15th November at 13:10 (11:10 CET).