Like most of the other drivers, Jenson Button enjoyed his first experience of the Istanbul Park circuit, which he first sampled in a 4WD car when it was still a construction site a few months ago.

In common with most of his colleagues, the Briton pinpointed the fast left-hander at turn eight as being the biggest challenge to be faced, especially over a race distance.

"It's dead exciting for us drivers to come to a new circuit, and the layout here is great," he said, "There are some really good corners here, and it's very, very different. I enjoy the crests as well. Turn one runs away from you - it's a little bit like Brazil, but it runs away from you a little bit more.

"You've got some very blind apexes, and you've got the big left-hander out the back, which is a fantastic experience. It's not too hard physically yet, but I'm sure it will be in the race. I think we're doing about 250kph - for about eight seconds. It's about 4g for most of the corner. My longest run was 14 laps so, in the race, it's probably going to be a little bit tougher. I saw a couple of drivers with their heads going a little bit!

"It's pretty tough, but that's what we do our training for. It's anti-clockwise as well, so you're working the opposite side of your neck from normal. You can train as much as you like, but you can't make your neck stronger. The best way to do that is driving, and we haven't been able to do that for two weeks. We're going to have to see who's fit.

"It's very difficult to be consistent through there, because it's such a long corner, and there are so many apexes in it. But it's great, it's good to have a different type of corner on the calendar. There are two or three lines you can take, but I think we'll end up having similar lines by the end of the weekend.

"I think the trickiest section is turns three, four and five because, if you get it slightly wrong, you've lost a lot of time there. The only thing I'd say that is an issue really is braking into the last complex, the last three corners. There's a big bump as you hit the brakes there, and that's going to cause a few issues in the race with locking tyres. Apart from that, I think they've done a very good job. For me, it's one of the best circuits in the world, and definitely in Europe."

Button finished Friday in fifth place but, in reality, he was third and behind only the McLarens of Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya. The two other drivers to beat him were testers who had the benefit of new tyres, namely Pedro de la Rosa and Ricardo Zonta. It suggests that Jenson can realistically aim for a podium this weekend, especially as Ferrari and Bridgestone appear to be struggling, and seem to be well out of contention, while Button outpaced the Renaults.

"It's been good today," the BAR man admitted, "We've done all our tyre programme - pretty standard really - but the car felt good here. There are a few things we need to work on, but I'm happy with the direction we're going in, and I'm happier with the car here than I was in Hungary."

Button says that lap times are close to what the team had predicted from its computer simulations back at the factory, although he conceded that things may get quicker.

"I think we're very close - we expected to do 1min 27-28secs," he revealed, "I think the simulation was very good, and the grip level was as we expected. The only thing is, which is normal with a new track, there's quite a lot of dirt off line. People are putting a wheel off the circuit and bringing lots of dirt on. It seems very easy to do that. Almost every lap I did, there was a cloud of dust on a corner. The grip level is going to come up, but there's going to be a lot of dust, so I really don't know. Turn eight is going to get quicker - even if there is dust there, we are going to get more and more used to it."



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