Verstappen: New surface ruined Algarve, I don’t even want to think about Istanbul

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says he hasn’t enjoyed a single lap of the Autodromo do Algarve this weekend, because of the new surface which was laid last year.

The Portuguese track was repaved ahead of Formula 1’s first race at the circuit in 2020. The condition of the surface has changed little in the six months since then.

Verstappen said his car’s handling has felt “hit and miss” all weekend and the team were “struggling a lot to find a balance.”

“I didn’t enjoy one single lap this weekend just because of the state of the track,” he admitted. “The layout is amazing but the grip we are experiencing, I don’t think it’s nice. I know it’s the same for everyone but for me personally, it’s just not enjoyable to drive.”

The lack of improvement in the grip at the circuit came as no surprise to Verstappen after he studied the performance of the bikes at last weekend’s Moto GP race.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Istanbul Park, 2020
Istanbul was even slippery when dry last year
“I checked the Moto GP times and they were the same already,” he said. “Of course they have a little bit of a different front tyre.

“But in general it’s just poor. I remember coming here last year before the grand prix and it was really, honestly, top three of my favourite tracks. But then they changed the Tarmac and for me I don’t enjoy it any more.”

Earlier this week Formula 1 confirmed Turkey’s Istanbul Park circuit, which the championship also raced at following a resurfacing last year, will take the place of the Canadian Grand Prix in June.

“I don’t even want to think about Turkey,” said Verstappen in the FIA press conference.

“It’s going to be horrendous,” agreed Lewis Hamilton, who also criticised the limited grip at the Algarve.

“I don’t really understand, I don’t know what they do to make it worse,” he said. “But Turkey used to have good grip and obviously the last time I went there we had none. And we’re finding we’re going to more and more circuits that seem to be changing the Tarmac that they’re using.

“So it’s not that great when we’re struggling for grip, that means it’s harder then to follow, and so then it has that knock-on effect. So we would ask for the good stuff back.”

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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20 comments on “Verstappen: New surface ruined Algarve, I don’t even want to think about Istanbul”

  1. Who’s at fault?

    Everyone but the guy at the wheel of the car that was quick enough for pole, but didn’t get there.

    1. Yeah @proesterchen. And it doesn’t look like the Ferrari guys, or Norris. Or for that matter Bottas are having a bad time. It sure makes it harder, but then, that is the point of the sport.

      I am sure both Portimao and Turkey would just as much as all other track operators love to be able to get more running on these tracks to make the tarmac settle in, but that just was not possible over the last months.

    2. You seem to have trouble with a honest personal opinion.
      As he and Lewis said, it’s the same for everyone but nothing to enjoy.

      1. It comes across as a miserable moan from two spoilt superstars. They remind of golfers who moan about a major course scoring above par, forgetting that actually we like to see our best of the best struggling a bit

        I’m surprised at both actually, as I’d had thought they revel in tough and different conditions

        And Turkey was down to the weather – which any amateaur forecast could have told them was common at that time of year

        1. No they don’t. They come across as honest and genuine drivers that have learned to reasonably argue a point.

          As Max literally says in this piece. He drove on this track right before the resurfacing and massively enjoyed it to the point where he considered it one of the best tracks in the world, and now he doesn’t enjoy it, because the tarmac made it too slippery and just a struggle to drive on. Maybe when the two best drivers of the grid tell you it’s undrivable that’s not them being “sour” but them being genuine and honest?

          As for your comment about Turkey, it wasn’t due to the weather. Go back to the practice sessions, it was pretty much an ice rink as far as track quality went.

        2. @banbrorace

          And Turkey was down to the weather

          It wasn’t. It was down to how new the track surface was as well as the type of tarmac used.

          In the dry during FP1/FP2 you had drivers spinning at what seemed like 10mph due to how little grip the surface was producing. And when it rained on Saturday/Sunday it just made things even worse.

          They even had to try & clean the surface several times on Thursday/Friday morning because some of the oils & sealants were still sitting on the surface which was causing the safety/medical cars to slide around a lot during the Thursday tech test.

          1. So the pathetically low temperatures, some of the lowest seen in recent F1 years, had nothing to do with the grip issues?

            Do you really think it would have been that bad if it had taken place in August, when it’s around 30C?

          2. @banbrorace Temperatures were low but everyone at the time from teams, drivers, Pirelli, The FIA & even the circuit owners specifically spoke about the track surface been the primary problem as it had only been laid down 2 weeks before the F1 weekend.

            The biggest problem was the smoothness of the brand new surface as well as the oils from the tarmac mixture seeping to the surface preventing the tires from biting into it & rubber been laid down which as many drivers complained about on the Friday resulted in it feeling like driving on ice.

            The circuit owners washed the track down several times to remove the oils from the surface & even had road cars driving it most of the night Thursday & Friday to help.

            The new surface also made things worse in the wet as water was not only sitting on the surface but also causing more of the oils to be brought to the surface which made things significantly more slippy than they would have been on the old surface.

            Also Pirelli were not made aware of the plans to resurface the circuit so selected the harder compounds based off the characteristics of the old surface. They said if they had been made aware it was been resurfaced they would have taken softer compounds which may have improved grip levels.


          3. @roger-ayles

            And the 12C temperatures, compared to say 30C, had no impact on the track drying out and so the amount of oils brought to the surface?

            Several of us on these boards, predicted chaos as we read the weather forecasts, added that to a new surface and thought that we might have a more interesting race, than we get at the usual Barcelona 35C borefests

            George Russell on the subject


            “While he conceded that F1 perhaps could work towards a happy medium between such chaotic races and the more predictable grands prix staged in normal conditions, he insisted F1 races should not be a lottery”

            The problem was both the new track and the cold wet damp conditions. If we’ve got temperatures, where you couldn’t dry a pair of undies, then we’ve always got excitement – add on a new surface, then admittedly we’ve got a bit too much

            But now we have Verstappen moaning about the forthcoming Turkey race – even though the conditions has never been less than 25C when staged in Spring/Summer

            It’s interesting that after just two and bit races – Verstappen is falling into the same ‘woe is me’ hole, that did for Vettel

    3. @proesterche What’s the pole times got anything to do with whether the track is nice to drive on? Or was that all you were able to come up with to legitimize a swipe at Verstappen?

  2. Tarmac resurfacing is necessary occasionally.

    1. @jerejj it’s not the first time a resurface has gone wrong, tho. Remember Silverstone a couple of years ago? everyone struggled so much that they had to resurface it again after only 1 year… can’t be cheap, either.

      1. 2 weeks back there were MotoGP races at this very same circuit and no one from that series complained about the low grip surface and they are much more vocal about the low grip tarmacs than any F1 drivers.

        1. @Chaitanya: I would go an read some post-race interviews with the drivers. Everybody was talking about low grip…

  3. It’s easy for us fans to look at comments like this & not see the tarmac & lack of grip as a problem because we aren’t looking at it from the same perspective as the drivers are.

    For us maybe seeing drivers struggling for grip & stuff can be fun, Yet for the drivers I can see it been something that isn’t enjoyable & can totally understand where Verstappen is coming from.

    Probably not the best analogy but it’s all I got….. Imagine you go to a theme park & want to go on your favourite roller coaster only to find that they have slowed it down. Yes it’s still the same ride but your not necessarily going to get the same thrill at the slower speed which will likely make it feel less fun. I can image the drivers may feel the same when they face a track surface like this.

    1. Well, work isn’t always fun. But if you get paid millions for it, who gives? They should stop moaning and drive around the lap as quick as possible. Circumstances are the same to everyone.

      1. @spafrancorchamps If racing in F1 & driving an F1 car isn’t fun & feels like ‘work’ then something is very wrong with the sport because every lap driven in these cars should be fun.
        Turning upto circuits with rubbish surfaces that make driving F1 cars or race cars of any kind feel like work & not enjoyable is an indictment of the track surface.

        And just because the circumstances are the same for everyone doesn’t make those circumstances right.

      2. Totally agree. I’m a huge Hamilton fan, but this kind of stuff is what the non F1 loving haters, simply use against him.

        Are they never suppose to resurface a track? I actually think their moans seriously undermine the authorities and they should be reminded of that

        Sorry. But I hate people moaning about ‘their lot’

    2. If I went on a theme park 23 times in a year and it was slow and not enjoyable for all those times – then I’d be justified in moaning

      Not if it’s twice

      What next? It’s too cold? Oh hang on!! They’ve already moaned about that, last season!!

      Seriously, the sport needs to vary the races. I’d have Turkey and Abu Dhabi as the last two races of the season, just for the contrast and their demographic closeness

  4. Max, you have the quickest car and you didn’t maximize your result. AGAIN.

    The tarmac sucks, sure. Just stop blaming others or things that are the same for everybody and just own your suboptimal performance despite driving the quickest car.

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