June 01, 2009

F1 on TV: Turkey 2009!

This week the mighty F1 Circus stops in Istanbul.  Nope, no They Might Be Giants jokes here.  I'll leave that to the highlights package guy at Speed Channel... he ALWAYS uses one of their songs when they're at the Istanbul Otodrom.

I won't mention which one.

Track map time!
Surprisingly enough, it's another Hermann Tilke circuit... but wait!  No "Adventure" layout here!  In fact, it's far and away his best F1 track design, and the only one of his to have a legendary corner.  Yes, this is the home of Quad-8, the infamous quadruple-apex turn that is the key to a good lap.  Done right, it's a beautifully balanced high-speed turn... but be wrong by a couple of inches and you're into the runoff area and praying that nobody noticed.  Many people have noticed some similarities between famous turns in motorsports and turns on this circuit.  For example, Turn 1 and 2 here has a passing resemblence to Laguna Seca's famed Corkscrew (though without the incredible downhill plunge), and Turn 11 has been nicknamed "Faux Rouge" due to the similarity with the famous complex at Spa (though without the incredible uphill climb).

Jenson Button has a history with Quad-8.  A couple of years ago, when Honda actually was sporty and looking like they were going to be challenging the big boys (kinda like BMW last year), Button had shown that he loved the Istanbul circuit by ripping off fast practice lap after fast practice lap... and he was the only driver who made Quad-8 look easy.

And then came Quals.  Through the first seven turns, he was amazing.  Then came Quad-8, a slight bobble, and voomph!  No pole for you, Jenson.  Ever since, he's been gunshy around that bend.

Turkey is also one of only two counter-clockwise tracks on the F1 calendar (Brazil being the other).  This lends an extra amount of fatigue to the drivers... they're used to going clockwise around racetracks, and their neck muscles are developed to do so.  Now, however, they have to go the other way... to the weak side, you could say. 

Running counter-clockwise also adds another difficulty to the teams, in that the refuelling receptacle on the cars needs to be moved to the left-hand side.  While this requires a minor change to the bodywork, and practically no change to the fuel tank itself (the tank doesn't move, the connecting hose between the tank and the receptacle does), it does cause some minor consternation amongst the pitcrews.  Usually, the right side tire changers have their backs to the garages... but now they'll have their backs to the pit lane, with cars zipping by behind them.  I don't care how professional they are, and they are arguably the best in the business, a change like that has to throw you off a little bit.

This track has been owned by the Ferrari drivers, with Kimi Raikkonen winning in 2005 (though he was with McLaren at the time), and Felipe Massa the winner of the other three races.  The question is, will that institutional memory be enough to boot BrawnGP from the top step of the podium? 

We'll begin to find out on Friday, from 6a to 740a, as SPEED brings us live coverage of 2nd Practice.  More questions will be answered on Saturday, from 6a to 730a, when we get plausibly live coverage of the Quals session, also on SPEED.

Then comes the race, which will NOT be live.  The Grand Prix of Turkey is the first of this year's four races on Fox, so check your local listings for times (though it's expected to be from 2p to 4p).  The only replay will be on SPEED on Tuesday, June 9th, from 12n to 2p.

All times are Central Pond Time, so subtract two hours if you are Vaucaunson's Duck, who lives in San Francisco.

Of course, F1 Update!'ll be all over this race, so see you then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:32 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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Turn 8 looks even cooler from the air. Man, you get the timing right on that and you ought to be able to breeze through it at high speed. Get it wrong, though, and you're off the track!

Are those auxiliary grandstands out there?

It looks like a nicely safe track, or as safe as these things can be. All the turns have nice runoff areas; no big nasty walls to run into.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 01, 2009 08:55 PM (+rSRq)

2 I believe they are, Steven.  Be a helluva place to watch from: you get a clear view of all four apexes AND the run down to Turn 9. 

Like all modern tracks that aren't in a city (Valencia, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi), it was built to the (at the time) most recent safety standards.  It only has (had?) kittylitter only at the very very far reaches of Quad-8's asphalt runoff area.  Nobody's reached it, though (if memory serves) a BMW came close in 2007... backwards.

Also, as you point out, no walls.  Well, yes, there are walls, but only to keep cars from ending up in the grandstands or the boundary roads, and they're practically impossible to reach, I'd guess.

The only "new" circuit I've ever seen a bad crash at was China, 2007, when Narain Karthekeyan (aka Narain Kittylitter) got a flat on the back straight and found the one place on the track that had a close wall.  Until Koob's Montreal wreck, it was the most violent crash I'd ever seen in F1.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 01, 2009 09:58 PM (hlGBx)

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