Intercity Istanbul Park Circuit

Rain was falling as the cars lined up, Valtteri Bottas in front with Max Verstappen alongside and the fastest driver in qualifying – Lewis Hamilton – down in 11th spot as he had to take a grid penalty for the engine component change. The wet conditions were expected to remain throughout the race.

The Mercedes-AMG driver got off to a good start, and Verstappen slotted behind in his spray. Not surprisingly, there was some drama as Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, Williams Racing Nicholas Latifi and Haas F1’s Mick Schumacher went into spins on the wet track. But Hamilton was quick to slice through traffic within the first few corners and started the second lap to positions higher. He was then held at ninth place for 6 laps as Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda proved difficult to get past.

In third was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc while Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez was shadowing him and waiting for an opportunity to get forward to cover Verstappen. Track temperatures were low due to the rain and as the drivers tried to get the tyres warmer, the racing was still a bit tricky.

On lap 9, the first penalty of the race was imposed on Pierre Gasly. It was a 5-second time penalty for having bumped Alonso in a spin at the start. However, Alonso also got a 5-second penalty as well as he had later bumped in Schumacher.

Within 15 laps, Hamilton had moved from eleventh at the start to fifth and the difficult part would start – ahead were Perez and Leclerc. Meanwhile, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who had started from the back due to an engine change penalty, had moved up to ninth place after 18 laps. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was less successful and stuck at sixteenth place for some time. He would be the first driver to pit on lap 24.

At the halfway point of the race, it was still Bottas leading Verstappen and the gap was around 4 seconds. Leclerc was about 3 seconds behind the Dutchman but Perez was still some distance away with a gap of over 10 seconds. The prospect of more rain was mentioned in the pits.

Lap 36 saw Hamilton close in on the Red Bull driver and for a few corners, the two drivers were doing close-up duels. As with Tsunoda, Hamilton’s attempts to overtake keep being frustrated by the Mexican driver. And then Perez headed for the pits on lap 37, letting Hamilton through to start chasing Verstappen. Bottas also came in at around the same time, his lead taken by Leclerc. The Mercedes-AMG driver was able to return to the race just ahead of Verstappen.

On lap 42, Hamilton was asked to come in but he was reluctant to do so, and remained on the track. Leclerc too was thinking that he might trey to stay with the tyres all the way till the end of the race. Aston Martin COGNIZANT’s Sebastian Vettel had come in and taken the chance on intermediates which proved to be a very bad decision, dropping him totally out of contention.

Bottas started to close in on Leclerc while Verstappen was facing steering problems. With 10 laps remaining, the Mercedes-AMG finally regained the lead. Leclerc was displaced to fourth as Hamilton zipped past him but there was still a 6-second gap with Verstappen.  The pressure was on the Red Bull driver who was aiming for the Finn ahead but also having to keep an eye on his team mate in the mirror.

To be on the safe side, Hamilton decided to come in to change tyres with 7 laps remaining. His quick stop allowed him to return behind Perez and Leclerc. He had fresh tyres and could put in maximum effort all the way to the finish so the 5-second gap was nothing. But even as Hamilton closed in on Perez, he put in a spurt and overtook Leclerc, which was not what the Mercedes-AMG driver was expecting. It didn’t help that Scuderia Alphatauri’s Pierre Gasly had also closed in and was watching for an opening past. Only 3 laps remained.

In the final two laps, Bottas had a comfortable 10-second lead over Verstappen, enough for him to concentrate on picking up an extra point by going for the fastest lap just before he took the chequered flag to win the Turkish Grand Prix. It was his tenth win on Formula 1. Strange how, having been confirmed that he will leave the team at the end of this season, his fortunes are getting better.







Race starts at 3 pm in Turkey/8 pm in Malaysia

It was less than a year ago that the Formula 1 teams were at the Istanbul Park Circuit in Turkey and this weekend, they are back again for Round 16 of the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship. The Turkish Grand Prix replaces the Singapore Grand Prix which had to be cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic in the country.

The track is not entirely unknown to them and current drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have raced at the circuit when the Turkish Grand Prix was held between 2005 and 2011. And even though they also raced there last year, there are unknowns, specifically regarding surface conditions. Last year, as the track had to be prepared for F1 racing after a lapse of 9 years, the freshly laid asphalt was slippery. Since then, the asphalt may have matured slightly and it’s also been completely cleaned with a high-pressure water jet. So this year drivers should benefit from better grip as a consequence of the softer compounds, higher asphalt roughness, and the likelihood of higher temperatures compared to last year.

According to Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing at Pirelli, the tyre suppliers, drivers reported improved grip during practices, and times in both sessions were considerably faster than 2020. “It’s hard to compare this year to last year, because the weather conditions are different and our tyre nomination this year is a step softer. We’ve seen consistent grip throughout the lap – albeit slightly affected by today’s gusting winds. However, there’s a risk of rain that could cause yet another variable,” he said.

Because Istanbul Park isn’t as frequently used as other F1 venues and with it being resurfaced, the track evolution is high – meaning, the track starts the weekend fresher (or ‘greener’) and develops more grip as more laps are completed and more rubber is laid down by the racing cars.

Istanbul Park is one of 7 anti-clockwise track layouts on the 2021 F1 calendar, the others being: Imola, Interlagos, Baku, COTA in Texas, Jeddah and Yas Marina. These layouts increase the strain on the opposite side of the driver’s neck, which isn’t used to experiencing these forces due to there being more clockwise circuits.

The best-known corner at the 5.338-km circuit is Turn 8, which has been described as one of the great corners in Formula 1. It’s very long, at 640 metres (or 12% of the entire lap) and taken at high speed, with several apexes that place forces peaking at more than 5g on the cars and tyres. Due to the increased downforce levels of the cars today compared to those 15 years ago, it has the highest lateral g-force experienced by the drivers over the course of the lap.

Many other corners place considerable demands on the tyres as well: Turn 1 is approached with a significant descent before heading uphill, and the back straight also contains a swooping uphill kink nicknamed ‘Faux Rouge’ in homage to Spa. The entire track layout makes plenty of use of the area’s natural elevation. It is one of the better circuits in F1 for overtaking, because there are several big braking zones and corners leading onto longer straights which offer several different lines.

The winning strategy last year was a one-stopper. Hamilton was one of only four drivers to stop once, as the majority stopped twice. In terms of car set-up, Turkey is what the engineers call ‘middle of the pack’, because most of its characteristics are pretty average, so not on either end of the spectrum in terms of downforce and power sensitivities.

Pole position on the starting grid seems to give a clear advantage at this circuit as 5 of the 8 winners started from that position. However, Hamilton won’t get that slot no matter how quick he is in qualifying as his engine change incurs a penalty that will put him 10 places down  on the starting grid tomorrow. But it should be remembered that last year, he started the wet race from sixth place – and won it as well as confirmed his seventh World title.

As the teams begin their battle tomorrow, both championship titles are still tightly contested. Hamilton is just 2 points ahead of Max Verstappen, while a good weekend in Russia in the last round put the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team extend their lead to 33 points ahead of Red Bull Racing. Behind the two, the battle for third between McLaren and Ferrari should be interesting with the gap of 17.5 points.

Lewis Hamilton was quick in qualifying but he will still have a 10-place grid penalty as the team has made an engine component change for his car to be on the safe side.

With the cancellation of the Singapore Grand Prix again as the government is uncomfortable having too many foreigners entering the country during this pandemic period, Turkey has again been added to the 2021 Formula 1 calendar. The date of the Turkish Grand Prix will be on October 3, the same weekend originally scheduled for the Singapore Grand Prix.

This will be the second year in a row that the Turkish Grand Prix is being run, last year having been the first time since 2011. The 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, which was to replace the cancelled Canadian GP, was removed in May when strict travel restrictions (imposed by the UK) were expected to make it difficult for teams to travel there from their base in the UK.

Most of F1 community vaccinated
However, things have changed and it is now possible to travel to Turkey and the Formula 1 organisation has decided to use the venue. The organisers have taken many measures to protect the health of those involved and say a significant proportion of the F1 community has been vaccinated already.

The circuit for the Turkish Grand Prix will be the same Intercity Istanbul Park or Istanbul Racing Circuit (or initially, Istanbul Otodrom) in the country’s capital city. The track was opened in 2005 and was another project of Hermann Tilke, who has designed many of the modern F1 circuits around the world.

One of the most challenging circuits
Istanbul Park has often been regarded as one of the most challenging modern circuits in F1. Of the 14 turns, Turn 8 is ‘legendary’ – a fast, high-g 640-metre left-hander with multiple apexes. Though today’s racing cars are better designed to handle the turn compared to 10 years ago, the speed (around 270 km/h) and duration in the turn will still place a lot of loads on the tyres.

“Due to the increased downforce levels, the iconic Turn 8 will be less of a focus than before. It was pretty much flat-out in the 2011 cars, but it will become even less of a challenge in these 2020 machines. So, teams don’t need to compromise the setup so much for it,” said Mercedes-AMG’s Toto Wolff.

Besides Turn 8, there are also other challenges around the 5.338-km long circuit that the drivers will do 58 laps on. It will be tough and technically demanding, with the long back straight that allow DRS to enable overtaking heading into Turn 12. The end of the lap consists of a combination of three low-speed corners where braking stability on entry and traction on exit are important.

Lewis Hamilton passes his team members after taking the chequered flag at the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix where his seventh world title was confirmed.

Lewis Hamilton confirmed his 7th title in Istanbul
Last year, when the teams returned to the Istanbul Park circuit, they were familiar with the layout but much of the data from earlier races was somewhat outdated. This year, things will be better with the experience of having run a race last year, which was won by Lewis Hamilton. It was in Istanbul that Hamilton confirmed his 2020 title to make a total of 7 in all.

This weekend sees the first of two rounds at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. The first is the Styrian Grand Prix, and the second round to be held one week later will be the Austrian Grand Prix.

After a thrilling French Grand Prix, Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing top the championship charts. The Dutch driver is 12 points ahead of Hamilton, whom he beat to the chequered flag at Paul Ricard, while his team is 37 points ahead of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team.

F1/Round 7: Highlights & Provisional Results For 2021 French Grand Prix


The 2020 Formula 1 World Championship, disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic just as the opening round was to take place in Australia in March, will end the season with a toral of 17 races. Following the announcements regarding the initial thirteen races of the revised 2020 calendar, 4 additional races have been confirmed which will take place in the months of November and December.

While it was already expected that Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will host the last rounds (the former running two races), a newcomer is Turkey which will have the Formula 1 DHL Turkish Grand Prix 2020.  The race will be held at the Istanbul Park Circuit which was opened in 2005 when the first Turkish F1 GP was held. The venue was included on the F1 calendar up to 2011 and then left out over the past 8 years.

Intercity Istanbul Park Circuit
The Intercity Istanbul Park Circuit last had a F1 race in 2011.

Familiar circuit to top drivers
The circuit, also designed by Hermann Tilke, the F1 track specialist, has a length of 5.34 kms and 14 turns. Past races have been run for 58 laps with the lap record still held by of 1:24.770 still held by Juan Pablo Montoya when he was driving a McLaren in 2005. Drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel would be familiar with the circuit as they have raced and won there before.

“We can confirm that a number of races in the revised 2020 season will be open to a limited number of fans, including hospitality, and we are working with each promoter to finalise the details. While we want to see as many fans as possible return as soon as it is safe to do so, our priority remains the safety of the Formula 1 community and the communities we visit, and we review fan access on this basis,” said Chase Carey, Chairman & CEO of the Formula 1 organisation.

Strict SOPs still applied
This means that the races will continue to be held without spectators and with a minimum number of participants allowed into the circuit. So far, the strict measures taken have ensured that there are no COVID-19 infections spreading and when the health authorities are more comfortable with the situation, perhaps there will be an opportunity for spectators in the stands.

“Sadly, we will not be racing in China this season and want to thank our partner Juss Sports for their support and engagement in recent months and hugely look forward to returning to Shanghai next year,” Carey said.





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