Featured Image By Adbar on Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, held a fortnight ago, saw Lewis Hamilton & Mercedes emerge victorious, while Valtteri Bottas finished second, and Daniel Ricciardo rounded off the podium. Hamilton’s win saw him eclipse Michael Schumacher’s race win record of 91 wins, while dealing yet another blow to Valtteri Bottas’ title fight.
This weekend, we find ourselves in Turkey after a 9 year absence, for the Turkish Grand Prix. Formula One returns to the Intercity Istanbul Park for a one-off event, after a 14 year absence.
Ahead of the weekend’s first on-track action, we take a look at things to look out for this weekend
The Circuit – Intercity Istanbul Park
Intercity Istanbul Park, also simply known as Istanbul Park, is a permanent motorsports complex located in Tulza, located east of Istanbul. The track was designed by Hermann Tilke, and opened on 21 August 2005.
The track runs anti-clockwise, featuring a total of 2 configurations, a Grand Prix circuit, and an Intermediate circuit. Formula One will use the 5.333 km Grand Prix circuit. The circuit is no stranger to Formula One, previously hosting the race from 2005-2011. The circuit has not undergone changes since Formula One’s last visit.
2 DRS Zones are on the circuit, located on the backstraight, and the start/finish straight.
Things to Watch:
How much overtaking can we expect to see this weekend? For Formula One fans who desire to see some overtaking action, the outlook could be good….
Istanbul Park is a circuit with several overtaking opportunities, most notably at Turn 1, alongside the long run from Turn Nine to the final three corners. Prior to the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix, the 2011 Turkish Grand Prix also saw the highest number of overtakes on a dry race, with 80 overtakes.
Formula 1 drivers have said that they anticipate easier overtakes compared at the track at Imola. Daniel Ricciardo stated: “I think it will provide good racing as overtaking should be more straightforward [than Imola],”
How will driver inexperience & reduced data affect teams?
Today’s FP1 was essentially being held on a half-damp track, with almost zero grip, resulting in numerous spins. The half-damp surface came after officials opted to wash the track in the morning, and the water failing to dry in time for FP1.
With the low track grip in FP1 and half-damp surface, it appears that the data collection for teams to understand the track has been hampered. The situation for most teams is not helped by a lack of experience on the circuit for most drivers, with only Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel having ever raced at the track.
This comes alongside a recent resurfacing which effectively led to Pirelli bringing the “wrong” tyres for the race. Mario Isola, Pirelli Formula 1 boss revealed that Pirelli was not aware of the track resurfacing at Istanbul Park, following FP2.
Can Ferrari maintain it’s Free Practice Form? Ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix, Ferrari had been expected to struggle, given Istanbul Park’s reputation for being a power-demanding circuit. This was even admitted by team personnel..
Ferrari Sporting Director Laurent Mekies stated in an interview with Pitpass, stating: “Looking at the track characteristics, it won’t be an easy weekend for us. Nevertheless, the pecking order behind the top three drivers is always very close as it has been all season and the slightest thing can make the difference between fighting for a place on the second row or not making it to Q2.”
Needless to say, Ferrari’s Free Practice results have suggested that good things could be on the horizon this weekend for the Scuderia. In the spin-filled FP1, held on a half-damp track, Ferrari managed to finish 3rd (Charles Leclerc) & 5th (Sebastian Vettel). In FP2, Ferrari managed to come home with 2nd (Charles Leclerc) & 8th (Sebastian Vettel).
Hamilton’s 7th title this weekend?
This weekend also sees Hamilton have the chance to win his 7th Formula One title, equaling that of Michael Schumacher’s record. Below, we have placed a table depicting the scenarios which will grant Hamilton his 7th title.
For Bottas to deny Hamilton his title, Bottas must finish no lower than 7th on Sunday…
If Bottas Finishes
Hamilton Must Finish
1st + Fastest Lap
Title fight continues at Bahrain
2nd + fastest lap
5th + fastest lap / 4th
3rd + fastest lap
4th + fastest lap
8th + fastest lap / 7th
5th + fastest lap
9th + fastest lap / 8th
6th + fastest lap
7th & Below
Hamilton wins 7th title