2010 Turkish GP preview The Istanbul Park circuit in Turkey will be the stage of round 7 of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship on Sunday May 30. The circuit is just a few miles away from the ...
2010 Turkish GP preview
The Istanbul Park circuit in Turkey will be the stage of round 7 of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship on Sunday May 30. The circuit is just a few miles away from the ancient Turkish city of Istanbul, in the past also known as Byzantium and Constantinople. The city itself is located on both sides of the Bosphorus Strait and is the only city in the world that is situated on two continents, the western part is located in Europe, the eastern part in Asia. Istanbul is also famous for its storks, each year in spring vast numbers of storks migrate to Europe and tens of thousands of storks can be seen circling above the city, they use the thermals developing over the hills surrounding Istanbul to cross the Bosphorus Strait, this wonder of nature is known as the Bosphorus Migration.
Back to terra firma and Formula One, the Istanbul Park circuit (located on the Asian continent) opened its doors in 2005 for the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix, and was won by Kimi Raikkonen driving for McLaren. Felipe Massa won the race in 2006, 2007 and 2008 for Ferrari; in 2009 Lewis Hamilton won the race for McLaren. It is a very fast circuit with four long straights, on the longest straight cars reach speeds of over 310 km/h, and the mixture of fast and slow corners creates plenty of overtaking opportunities. It's also a driver's circuit, and Turn Eight is the most demanding and challenging turn at the circuit, and holds the key to a fast lap.
Renault's Robert Kubica thinks the Turkish circuit is a challenge as well as a joy, and is adamant that Turn Eight is "quite a challenging corner and will be very interesting at the start of the race with a full tank of fuel." And when asked about the rest of the circuit he commented, "It's certainly one of the best modern circuits with some nice corners, especially in the first sector of the lap. The final sector is a bit 'mickey-mouse' with some slow corners and is the complete opposite to the first sector, which means you have to make a compromise with the set-up."
Turn Eight has already built up a fearsome reputation, drivers will experience a lateral force of 4.3 g with a peak of 5.2 g. For the less experienced drivers it will be quite a challenge and hard for the neck, especially because it is a left-hand turn. It takes only eight seconds to complete the corner from entry to exit, and cars accelerate to 310 km/h before they have to brake very hard to negotiate Turn Nine, another lefthander. For the new teams it will be a huge challenge too, the turn requires perfect car set-up, a lack of downforce or a small mistake when entering the first part of the corner can cost a lot of time.
The FIA has appointed four stewards who will make up the F1 Stewards Panel for the race in Turkey: Radovan Novak from the Czech Republic and German Dr. Gerd Ennser will represent the FIA, Haluk ?nsal represents the hosting country Turkey, and ex-Formula One driver Briton Johnny Herbert will represent the drivers.
For the 45-year old Herbert it will be his second tour of duty, he assisted the Stewards during the Malaysian Grand Prix earlier this year as well. Herbert is an experienced Formula One driver, with 165 races behind the belt; he won 3 races, scored 7 podium finishes and during his 11-year career he scored a total of 98 world championship points. He drove for Benetton, Tyrrell, Lotus, Ligier, Sauber, Stewart and ended his Formula One career in 2000 with the Jaguar team. In 1991 he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Mazda 787B together with Volker Weidler and Bertrand Gachot.
Red Bull Racing still the team to beat
Red Bull have so far dominated the season, they were on pole on all six previous races, won three races and are leading both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships. The RB6 is without a doubt the fastest car on the grid, and was designed by Briton Adrian Newey, who moved from McLaren to Red Bull in 2006. Newey is currently the 'most wanted man' in Formula One, and Red Bull's recent success should be attributed to the designing and engineering skills of this extraordinarily talented man. He is a very friendly, introvert and almost shy man, he doesn't like interviews; but when he talks with reporters about engineering and Formula One, the twinkle in his eyes reveals his passion for the sport. Team principal Christian Horner yesterday confirmed Newey will stay with the team for the foreseeable future.
Red Bull is the fastest car even without the famous F-Duct, other teams are trying to figure out why the car is so fast, and after wrongly accusing the team of using an illegal ride height system, they have now focused their attention on the design of the back of the RB6, especially the design of the rear diffuser. During the race in Monaco McLaren engineer Paddy Lowe spotted something on the car's diffuser that did not completely conform the regulations and reported it to the FIA scrutineers. FIA officials asked Red Bull to modify the design before the race, but even with the alterations they still won the race. Horner thought the McLaren protest was actually quite funny and commented: "We had to run a version without those [diffuser] wings and found that it was even better than before!"
F-Duct updates for Istanbul
A number of teams had removed the F-Duct from the car during the Monaco Grand Prix because they are not very effective on a slow circuit, but the ducts will be back again in Istanbul. Ferrari and BMW-Sauber will run a newer version of the duct, which is operated by the hand of the driver, and expect it will give them some more speed. Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicale admitted the system still doesn't give them the right performance, the Italian team also encountered problems because the system apparently also decreases the downforce in corners, even when it is not activated.
Red Bull is also working on the system, and the latest rumors are that they will run an experimental version this weekend. Red Bull is already almost one second faster than the other teams, and with a properly working F-Duct they could gain another 3- or 4-tenths of a second. Williams has the system as well, Force India will use it for the first time in Istanbul, and the new teams have other problems to take care of, Lotus and Virgin already stated they have no F-Duct plans for 2010.
Mercedes have revealed they are working on an automated version of the system, which means the air inlet is not controlled by the driver. This would be a true innovation, but very hard to realize, because the regulations prohibit the use of 'mechanical aerodynamic devices' such as valves, springs, dampers or moveable or flexing vanes, flaps or wings (with the exception of the adjustable flap on the front wing). The only reason the F-Duct is legal is because the driver's hand or knee functions as a valve to open or close the air inlet, and because the driver is obviously not a part of the car, nor a mechanical device, the system is legal. But the new system is not ready and Mercedes will bring a purpose-built 'F-Duct rear wing' to Istanbul Park which should further improve the effectiveness of the system they currently use.
Pitstops and tyres
Expected pit stop schedule for Turkey:
For 1 Stop - between laps 27-33
For 2 Stops - between laps 12-15 and 33-37
For 3 Stops - between laps 6-12, 20-27 and 37-45
Bridgestone tyre report:
Bridgestone has allocated the Soft and Hard tyre compounds for the race in Istanbul. From Bridgestone's point of view, Turn Eight is also the turn that puts the most weight and stress on the tyres, especially the right front tyres will get a battering, and the Japanese tyre company describes the corner as "the toughest of the year", but also admit it is not the only part of the circuit that is a challenge.
Hirohide Hamashima about the circuit, "Istanbul Park has caused us problems in the past so it is a circuit where we pay particular attention to every aspect of our preparation. We have reviewed the tyre strength and durability of our tyres so far this season and we have seen no problems, even though the latest cars are both heavier and faster than previously. The left-right-left of turns 12-14 are the lowest speed areas of the track and come straight after the highest-speed straight. This combination is a breeding ground for tyre graining, so competitors will have to pay particular attention here to minimize this, especially early in the race weekend when the circuit is dirtier and has less rubber on it."
Who to watch this weekend?
The super fast Red Bull car will give drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel the upper hand, getting pole position is important, but not as important as in Monaco, where there are almost no overtaking opportunities. Istanbul is a fast circuit, and McLaren has done well on the faster circuits this year. Lewis Hamilton is optimistic about his chances this weekend, "I think we came away from Monaco with a respectable result, but the MP4-25 wasn't particularly well suited to a tight and bumpy track like that. At a place like Istanbul Park, our car will be back in its element. It loves smooth, fast circuits, where the aero can really work over the car through the long, fast corners. We're not under any illusions, but we think we'll be able to get another decent result and we're hopeful of taking the fight to the cars at the front."
Felipe Massa has won this race three consecutive times, and is also a candidate for the victory. Sunday's race will be the eight hundredth Formula 1 Grand Prix for the Ferrari team, their first race was the 1950 British Grand Prix, a truly remarkable record. They certainly would like to crown that historic Ferrari event with a victory. Fernando Alonso had a lot of problems in Monaco and will be extra motivated to give Ferrari that win.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has outperformed Michael Schumacher almost all season, he was 3rd in Malaysia and China, but after Mercedes introduced the longer wheel base car, his performance rapidly went down. Schumacher is happier with the new car, and if Schumacher wants to shed his '41-year old seven-times world champion returnee' image, now would be the right time to prove he hasn't lost his magical touch with Formula One. The circuit would certainly favor the new longer Mercedes car, and Schumacher knows how to make the most of the overtaking opportunities the circuit has to offer.
And there is Renault with Kubica, when things turn sour for the favorites, Kubica is always at the right place at the right time, and is therefore also a candidate for a podium finish. The Renault team have so far been the surprise of the season, race by race their car has gradually improved, enabling Kubica to become 2nd in Australia, 4th in Malaysia, 5th in Spain and 3rd in Monaco. Not bad for a team that almost didn't make it to the 2010 season, and the achievements of Kubica have certainly boosted the moral of the very hard working French team. Team principal Eric Bouiller recently called the 25-year old Pole "the team's most important asset".
Force India drivers Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi have also done remarkably well this season, and Sutil qualified in the top-ten during all races, except in Monaco. The team has become a regular points scorer and scored points in all races except during the rainy race in China. The car seems to be doing well on both high- and low-downforce tracks, and Adrian Sutil is confident he can score points, "I think it should be a good track for us as we're still fast on the straights but the car feels balanced through the corners as well, and you need good traction at this circuit. I hope to pick up some more points at this race to close that gap to Renault."
Things change very rapidly in Formula One, teams who didn't have a chance last year, like Renault and Force India, became regular points scorers this season. The Drivers' Championship is currently led by Webber and Vettel with 78 points, followed by Alonso (75), Button (70), Massa (61), Kubica and Hamilton (59) and Rosberg (56). And with 25 points for the winner of the race, any of these eight drivers can be leading the championship after the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park.