Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Istanbul Park, 2020

“Perfect storm” caused extreme low-grip conditions in Turkey – Masi

2020 Turkish Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Formula 1 race director Michael Masi says the extreme lack of grip drivers encountered at the Turkish Grand Prix arose due to a “perfect storm” of different factors.

Drivers complained about exceptionally poor grip levels while driving the recently-resurfaced track for the first time during Friday practice. The situation deteriorated further due to rain on Saturday and Sunday.

“I think the last time we had a similar situation was probably Korea 2010,” Masi told RaceFans. He said Mercedes’ sporting director Ron Meadows described the circumstances as a “perfect storm” during Friday’s running.

“New asphalt, not having the ability to have any running on it because of the lateness with it, the rain, the cold weather.”

Pirelli’s selection of its hardest available tyres contributed “to a degree”, Masi conceded, “but I think if you put those other combinations together first and put them all together it leads to what we had.

“Was it ideal in a pure sense? No, it wasn’t. But look at what’s been achieved in the timeframe, what was done. We have the 20 best drivers in the world and [this] is not something that was done by design. That is probably the best way [to look at it]. It was just a combination of everything.”

Whether the track needed to be resurfaced in the first place has been called into question. “I think the matter of it being necessary or not is subjective,” said Masi. “Whose decision it was… it’s there and it was done. So I think from that perspective it doesn’t matter whose decision it was.”

Istanbul Park is one of five circuits which were added to the 2020 F1 calendar as a result of the pandemic. All received safety upgrades as a result, which Masi said was “a huge positive for the sport as a whole”.

“Turkey is a prime example,” he explained. “Turkey hasn’t had really any major activity for a number of years. I first went there eight weeks ago, when the World Rally Championship event was, around that time.

“And the venue looked sort of… it needed a lot of work. Let’s be quite honest, it needed I would say I call it ‘a big birthday’. So it wasn’t just the upgrading of barriers, it was painting things, cleaning things, putting kerbs back to their proper specification.

“All of those number of things [were] put together. I did another inspection there three, four weeks ago and then obviously the one on the weekend to see what it was. In a relatively short period of time, credit where credit is due, they did a great job.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 F1 season

Browse all 2020 F1 season articles

24 comments on ““Perfect storm” caused extreme low-grip conditions in Turkey – Masi”

  1. I certainly agree that they did a good job in Turkey of bringing the track back up to spec. And yeah the tarmac would off course have been better if they had redone it earlier. But I am sure they planned to do so, but it just did not work out. – As I wrote in earlier comments, since they had had cars parked at parts of the track, I am pretty sure that surface did really need to be renewed. Sun and parked cars make lovely “wavy” patterns in tarmac over time.

    This is an important part:

    But look at what’s been achieved in the timeframe, what was done. We have the 20 best drivers in the world and [this] is not something that was done by design. That is probably the best way [to look at it]. It was just a combination of everything.”

    And yeah, I do think that it was a bit much, but then it did give enough room for drivers to really show what they are made of, so as a one off thing it was another very interesting event this year.

    1. Indeed @bascb, certainly not something to repeat quite in this way, especially from an organizers point of view, but it worked good enough, wasn’t unsafe and gave us a good, certainly memorable, race so well done on the whole.

      A bit ‘it is what it is’ perhaps, but well, it is, right?!

  2. The inaugural COTA event also had somewhat similar tarmac conditions, albeit not rain.

  3. A lot of waffle has been posted about the Turkey race.
    Not one person saw fit to mention, that the track was the same for every driver.
    As such I thoroughly enjoyed the race!
    Definitively sorted out the experienced drivers from all of the young pretenders!!!!

    1. I heard almost everyone say that the conditions were the same for eveyone. So not sure what you mean. Most dreadful race i have seen since 1980, but thats just me. I like getting the potential out of a car.

      1. Rain races never get the full potential out of the cars but they do get the full potential out of the drivers. Some drivers shine on rainy days, others not so much.

    2. Everyone said it was the same for everyone to be fair but how anyone who has watched f1 at say Paul Ricard could say its the worst race they’ve seen is beyond me. In fact I dont even believe it. I do believe people forget quickly and their memory plays tricks on them. Does me. Kind of also assumes you either like cars going sideways or you like them sticking at full potential. A lot of nonsense, you can like both

      1. Haha, yes Paul Ricard is not the creme de la creme either. Listen, a bit sideways is good. Actually, rain hit races in general provide me more fun as long as there are multiple racing lines. And you are right this was technically not the worst race since I do not consider it a race ;-)

  4. Whenever Masi tries to justify something it comes across as very defensive and dismissive. Most of the ‘perfect storm’ came about from the decisions of people, or short sightedness. It was someone’s decision to resurface the tarmac, and that decision should have had the knowledge of when the tarmac would be completed, what the track temperature would likely to be in November, what little running there would be on the track prior to F1, and Pirelli should have been told the details of the resurface and allowed them to make adjustments accordingly. Will Masi ever accept criticism?

    1. As soon as they agreed to hold the race, they also made a plan for the repairs as well as the new tarmac @f-duct. They planned to have it ready about 6 weeks ahead of the race and planned to have events to get cars driving on it.

      However a combination of Covid related issues as well as a stretch of bad weather prevented them from doing so earlier.

      1. @bascb So COVID prevented the track resurface work back in August when this race got confirmed. Fair enough.

    2. That’s exactly right. The only unforeseen component was rain, and for Turkey in mid-November it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. The track owners decided to resurface the entire track for the race even though no other racing was scheduled to mature the track surface. If F1 wasn’t aware of all this they need to hire some new people.
      To me this track resurfacing debacle is similar to the last race at Indy only resulted in too little grip rather than too much grip. F1 should certainly confirm that the track will be suitable for racing and whether it was is debatable. That being said I thoroughly enjoyed the race, the chaos, and learning how long a set of intermediate wet tires would last.
      Pirelli could have brought softer tires. I’m not sure how much of a difference this would have made in the end because both quali and the race were run exclusively on wet tires. Perhaps if softer compounds were used the teams would have been less hesitant to change to slicks toward the end of the race.

  5. The man keeps on finding excuses, it is appalling.

    When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and learn from it.

    1. Most dreadful race I have seen. Black flag for Masi

  6. Am I the only one who finds that the F1 circus likes to whine a bit too much ? Sure the grip was extremely low, a bit too much to properly extract the performance of the car. And so what ? Are these the “best 20 drivers of the world” ? The “smartest engineer of the world” ? The pinacle of motorsport… Does it mean we need to have very clinical perfect conditions, no bumps, no changing condition, low grip etc ? All “super under control” ? Not for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t like this to become the norm and of course there are limits to the “level of mess” we can have. But the conditions (starting with the pandemic) were special and at the end of the day, we had a very decent GP, no big drama and HAM still wins. Sorry, but I don’t see why a polemic must be started and in fact, I see in this debate one of the issue with modern F1 locked up in it’s ivory tower.

    1. Nope you are not HAL, see BasCB’s post above, and my answer – I often do think Masi talks over issues (but, safety is one thing, getting a GP organised perfectly another – one cannot afford compromises, the other on other aspects than safety might, without it being a major detractor), but in this case, fair enough, it worked, and certainly gave us a memorable event without big problems.

  7. I don’t trust what Masi says anymore.

  8. This race showed us the two sort of fans F1 has nowadays. Libertys commercialism attracts those who like to see a circus like in Turkey, which actually had very little to do with racing. This group is growing. Even on this forum if you look at the rate the race. Expect them to want drs, fanboost, reversed grids, etc. The other group race fanatics will have to accept this and keep fighting for more pure racing, like it all started in the 50s. Lets see where this all ends.

    1. Coventry Climax
      25th November 2020, 14:08

      And that’s exactly what I’m afraid of; that it will end.
      In fact they are heading high speed in that direction and in a straight line, chequered flag in sight – for me, that is.
      With ‘they’ I mean the FIA as well as LM, seems like they operate a joint venture in this. Promoting artificial crap and monkey business, wrapped up in empty words.
      Hardly missed an F1 race in about some 50 years now, but finding myself losing interest lately.

      1. I unfortunately have to agree here. Dont see F1 surviving for another 10 years. Hope I am wrong

    2. @Mayrton Yes, the race wasn’t the greatest all things considered, far from it, but neither was it boring as such due to the unpredictable nature of it. Yes, not the best racing-wise, and so on, nor exciting for necessarily the right reasons, but fortunately, a one-off case, rather than a norm. I most certainly consider myself a purist and don’t support artificial randomness on the highest level of circuit-racing.

    3. Yes you’re right, theres those who have been brought up on billiard table super grip tracks with little going on and predictable order is the name of the game and those who started watching when tracks were bumpy, cars slid around and there were 5-10 retirements per race. See the fuss some people made about Turkey,’ worst race ever’ when we had all of the latter and none of the former. ‘Purist’. Yeh righto.

      1. There is a difference between drivers going sideways or even off due to driving on their limit in the wet vs due to a ridiculously coming together of all kinds of elements making it a joke (tarmac newness, tarmac quality, rain, oil, only one racing line in the wet). Brasil 2016 vs Turkey 2020. Those are not the same races

    4. If the situation in Turkey had been deliberately created, and was to become a norm I would agree. But it was not the case, and I believe that been adaptive is part of the sport (nothing to do with fanboost and the gismo you are referring to). I also remember that historically, F1 was far from been running on perfectly smooth and prepared track, on the contrary. Which was an issue for the security of the driver, but not from the sport point of view. So not sure what you mean by your “pure racing” rant. I would even say that having GP running on perfect-super wide-smooth Tilke track is basically modern F1 and get too clinical. I think it’s great to have some diversity, so it’s great to have a championship which mangle old school tracks (Spa, Silverstone, Suzuka, bumpy Interlagos, Monaco…) with some Tilke modern, some city track and why not a few trial ala Shakir.

Comments are closed.