Bridgestone’s soft tyre took reigning world champion Jenson Button in his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to the top of the time sheets in sweltering conditions on the first day of practice for the Turkish Grand Prix. Button set a 1min 28.280secs lap in the afternoon session at the undulating Istanbul Park Circuit as the new cars met the challenge of the notorious Turn 8 for the first time.
Button’s Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton went fastest in the morning, using the hard compound Bridgestone Potenza.
Q&A with Hirohide Hamashima - Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development:
What was significant about today’s running? “Today we met a very dirty and dusty track, which is usual for the first day’s running at Istanbul Park as this circuit is not used as frequently as others we visit. This meant that finding sufficient grip was difficult and we saw quite a lot of graining on the right front and right rear tyres because of this. In the morning the track surface did not improve very much, however in the afternoon there was a lot of surface evolution by the end of the session. This was the first time we have experienced Turn Eight with the latest specification cars and on heavy fuel loads, so it was a very interesting day for us. Now we will analyse the tyres very closely, including cutting them up and examining them under the microscope.”
How do you expect this allocation to work over the weekend? “That is the question everyone wants to know the answer to. The key here is the amount of track surface evolution which occurs before Sunday and then during the course of the race. As we saw today, the track temperature was very hot, so careful tyre management from car set-up and the drivers will be very important this weekend.”