George Russell hopes lessons learned as bizarre Turkey track returns
George Russell hopes he and Williams can learn some lessons from another tricky Turkish Grand Prix.
Istanbul Park made its second appearance in as many years on the F1 calendar as host of the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, following on from its return in 2020.
And just like last season, the 2021 staging also saw wet and chilly conditions on Sunday, meaning the intermediate tyres were required for the start.
But even when the track dried it was still not possible to move to slicks, demonstrated by Sebastian Vettel’s brief and unsuccessful one-lap stint on the medium dry tyres.
Once again then the intermediates made for strange strategies as drivers pushed through intense degradation and loss of grip, wearing the tread away to create makeshift slicks in many cases – Esteban Ocon even made it to the end without a tyre change, crossing the line P10.
But Russell was far from impressed after a difficult afternoon of tyre management on his way to a P15 finish.
“It was not an easy race at all,” he told reporters.
“The first 10 laps or so felt pretty good, but it was just so difficult with these inter tyres as they were degrading, wearing away and I think we just need to look into it because at points we were a long way off, then suddenly the pace would come back and drop off again.
“I think it was very difficult for everybody to manage today.”
Asked what Pirelli could do about the situation, Russell replied: “Not a lot to be honest”.
In his mind then the track is the main issue.
“When it’s these cold conditions, a cloudy day, the sun and heat isn’t there just to dry the track, so normal conditions it would have just dried out and you would have been on the slicks and away you go,” he explained.
“It’s happened twice now here where the track has been dry, there has been no rain and you are on those inter tyres just wearing down to a slick and that is incredibly difficult to manage.
“So hopefully we have learnt something from today.”
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For Russell’s team-mate Nicholas Latifi it was also a tricky afternoon, with the Canadian admitting that his race was ruined by a spin on Lap 1.
However, it is experience in these wet conditions which he has been craving, though from his showing in Turkey he concludes that he still has further learning to do.
“I think that the race just came undone with the first-lap spin,” he confirmed.
“Obviously then being stuck behind the two Haas’ and I was able to pass them this time fortunately, not like Sochi where I was stuck behind, but by the time I caught back up and was able to pass them it was still not easy without the DRS.
“The pack was 13 seconds up the road or something, we are not in the Mercedes or Red Bull, so quite frustrating but at the same time I think it’s still positive, I think this was my first full F1 race in the wet which is a good experience.
“Obviously not without its mistakes on my part but I guess that is part of the learning.
“Let’s say from the start of the year, I need and want that wet experience and thankfully we have been getting some opportunities this year, but clearly there are still some things I have to learn from my part.
“But I think the pace was good at some points, but when you are trying to crawl back from a spin and so much gap it’s not really recoverable.”
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