Gasly fastest in rain-hit practice in Turkey

Istanbul (AFP) –


Pierre Gasly was fastest in the rain-hit morning practice session for the Turkish Grand Prix on Saturday as a string of drivers spun in the puddles on the track.

Nikita Mazepin, Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc, Mick Schumacher all spun in a session that started in drizzle and with pools on the track surface.

When George Russell's Williams went off, the session was halted for eight minutes for a red flag. "I'm beached," he told his team.

As a drier line emerged, times improved.

Frenchman Gasly dove the quickest lap in 1min 30.447sec in his Alpha Tauri. Dutchman Verstappen then recorded a time 0.164sec slower in his Red Bull. At the end of the session Mexican Sergio Perez, in the other Red Bull, put up the third best time, 0.237 behind Gasly.

The Ferraris of Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who will start from the back of the grid after the team fitted a new engine, and Frenchman Charles Leclerc were fourth and fifth fastest.

On a morning when many drivers were cautious, championship leader Briton Lewis Hamilton, who faced a 10-place grid penalty after Mercedes put a new motor in his car, was 14th fastest 3.189 slower than Gasly.

Last year qualifying was red flagged in the rain, but the forecast for Saturday afternoon was uncertain.

"Looking at the forecast and looking at the radar it's fairly unpredictable," Marcin Budkowski, the Alpine team chief told British television. "At the moment it's dry and almost sunny. It's still 60 per cent likelihood of rain."