The other big issue is the actual track surface, something that track designers Apex are particularly proud of, as they used American-sourced materials in the “recipe” for the asphalt.
It didn’t go entirely to plan as in two points it began to show signs of damage on Thursday before any racing cars had hit the track, and after running only by the safety car and hot laps for VIPs in various supercars.
The damage was at Turns 7, the tightening left-hander adjacent to the infamous fake marina, and the Turn 17, the hairpin that leads onto the pit straight.
It was known that there was a specific issue with the surface process at those two points, so there were no worries that it would extend elsewhere. Those points were patched up on Thursday night, and there was more work at Turn 7 on Friday night.
However the gripe of the drivers concerns the whole track, and specifically the lack of grip available as soon as they stray off the rubbered-in racing line. That means that it’s much harder to duck out from behind someone and attempt a pass.
The situation was discussed in the drivers’ briefing on Friday, and some drivers were so frustrated after two days of running had failed to improve the situation that they went public with their concerns following qualifying.
“I think most importantly the surface is a joke,” said Sergio Perez when I asked if he thought there will be any passing in Sunday’s race. “Tomorrow the racing is going be difficult. And you’re going to have the drivers making mistakes because we’ve been put into this situation.”
“It’s still very difficult to go offline,” said Fernando Alonso. “So it’s going to be difficult. We said yesterday that the track, the tarmac, is not F1 standards. Nothing we can do. I think this weekend we need to put the show, but this has to change for next year. It’s very difficult to race like this.”
Ricciardo was clearly frustrated that there are few options in terms of the lines that can be used.