Lewis Hamilton says the newly laid track surface at Istanbul is “shit with a capital S” and made driving during practice at Formula 1’s Turkish Grand Prix “terrifying”.

Drivers struggled with the low-grip track conditions and cold temperatures during Friday’s two practice sessions on a slippery Istanbul Park surface, which was newly resurfaced just two weeks ago in time for F1’s first visit since 2011.

Mercedes struggled for grip more than most with Hamilton, who is aiming to clinch a record-equalling seventh F1 world championship this weekend, finishing over eight-tenths off the pace as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen topped both sessions.

Hamilton believes the new surface was a waste of money and has spoiled what is otherwise a “fantastic” circuit in Turkey.

“It was a bit of a disaster today to be honest,” Hamilton said. “This track is such a fantastic circuit and I really don’t fully understand when they spend millions to resurface a track.

“ I know it’s been sitting around for some time but they could have just cleaned it maybe, instead of wasting all the money. Now the track is worse than Portimao was when we had the brand new surface there.

“So for us at least, the tyres aren’t working. You can see it, it’s like an ice rink out there and so you don’t get the enjoying of the lap as you normally would at Istanbul and I don’t see that changing.

“It’s terrifying the whole way around,” he added. “It’s almost like there’s wet patches all over because you are on Slicks, accelerating and it just goes so fast.

“It’s because you are way, way below the temperature window. These tyres, they are so hard and only work in a certain window, so if you are 10 or 20 degrees below they are not working.

“For some reason this surface is so smooth, a lot of the older circuits, are a lot more open between the stones, so it works the tyre more. This one is super closed, flat and shiny and I guess there’s oil seeps from the tarmac. It’s shit with a capital S.”


Hamilton said he was unable to carry out the usual set-up changes drivers would normally make on a Friday due to the tyre struggles.

“I’ve not changed a single thing with the car today because if the tyres aren’t working you don’t really know what the balance is,” Hamilton explained. “It’s literally just the tyres.

“You see other people are getting them to work. You can go from one lap to the other and you can find a second because the tyre works in a couple of corners. You can the Red Bulls are doing really well with it and we’ve definitely got some work to do tonight to try and figure out what we can change.

“It will be difficult for the fans to understand but there’s fundamental things on the car you can’t change, so we’ve just go to work with what we have and try and do the best job we can.”