Lando Norris joked that he spent his 21st birthday at “drift school” due to the lack of grip during Friday practice for Formula 1’s Turkish Grand Prix.
Formula 1 has returned to Istanbul Park following a nine-year absence and a full track resurface has only recently been completed.
Pre-event simulation suggested that lap times were likely to be as low as 1:20s but in FP1 Max Verstappen led the way in the 1:35s, improving only to 1:28s in FP2.
The situation was accentuated by autumnal weather and Pirelli’s use of its three hardest tyre compounds as drivers lapped over three seconds slower than 2011’s pole time.
Norris finished at the foot of the top 10 in the second session, though was almost half a second down on nearest opponent Lance Stroll, and 2.4s off Verstappen.
“It was a fun day,” said Norris, who turned 21 on Friday. “It was drift school today, that was my birthday present and it was my first day of drift school ever. It was nice.
“It’s tricky in a Formula 1 car, a lot of power, a lot of downforce and big snaps. So most laps you’re crapping yourself a bit, especially the high-speed Turn 8 and so on, so it’s tricky but it’s also a lot of fun.
“It’s fun to push the car and be on the limit like that all the time, but it’s not so much you’re on the limit, it’s trying to build tyre temperature and so on.
“We have to try and figure out what’s the best plan for tomorrow in terms of laps put on a set of tyres versus to build the tyre temperature and not taking the life out of the tyre, but I’m sure everyone’s going to be thinking about that and how to do it.”
McLaren is locked in a close three-way battle for third in the Constructors’ Championship but none of the trio of teams troubled the front of the pecking order on Friday.
Stroll and Norris scraped into the top 10 while their respective team-mates Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez, along with both Renault drivers, were in the bottom half of the table.
“We still have Ferrari who are a lot quicker than us and AlphaTauri, who are a little bit quicker, so if we can make some improvements I think we can fight AlphaTauri a little bit more,” he said.
“They were convincingly ahead throughout the whole day today. So it’s not going to be easy, but we have a chance to score some good points this weekend if things go smoothly, but it’s very tricky to do that.”