The fourth event of the Formula One Grand Prix 2011 was hosted on Sunday, 8 May 2011. With Lewis Hamilton beating Sebastian Vettel during the Grand Prix in China, he was confident that he would be able to deliver another great performance during the Turkish Grand Prix held at Istanbul Park. But a disappointing pit stop put an end to Hamilton’s race for first position. Instead, Sebastian Vettel enjoyed a comfortable victory – his third victory this season – increasing his lead on the championship leadership board. But Vettel remains grounded and is not becoming overconfident.
Sebastian Vettel crossed the finish line 8.8 seconds before team mate Mark Webber, making it a very successful Grand Prix event for the Red Bull team. Mark Webber and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso had a roaring fight for second position, but Webber was able to take second position, leaving Alonso in third. Alonso was still pleased with securing the first podium position for the Ferrari team this season. Lewis Hamilton had to settle for fourth position, with Nico Rosberg of Ferrari taking fifth position, followed home by Jenson Button of the McLaren team in a disappointing sixth position.
Even though Vettel now has a thirty-eight point lead over Mark Webber and a thirty-four point lead over Lewis Hamilton, he is still humbled by his victories. Speaking to the press, he commented that once you consider yourself unbeatable, someone will come along to prove you wrong and that there will be days when someone is better, so it is still too soon to get excited about the championship. He also said that he was definitely happy about the lead they have been able to create, but that there is still a long season ahead.
Starting from pole position once again, Sebastian Vettel seems to be doing extremely well this season, and doing well in defending his title so far. This year was also a good year for the Turkish Grand Prix, which seems to be increasing its spectator attendance with each event. The next Grand Prix event will be hosted in two weeks time in Barcelona and fans all over the world will most definitely be interested in seeing if Sebastian Vettel can increase his lead even further.
As one of the newest additions to the Formula One World Championships, the Turkish Grand Prix made its championship debut on 21 August 2005. The event is held at Istanbul Park Circuit – a newly constructed track which was designed by Hermann Tilke. Tilke is a famous German civil engineer and the Istanbul Park Circuit was not his first racetrack project. The circuit is generally considered to be very challenging, as it makes use of the natural contours of the land as well as copies some of the most difficult aspects of other international tracks. It is also one of only three circuits which are raced in an anti-clockwise direction. The other two are the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Italy and the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Brazil.
The Istanbul Park Circuit track is 5.34 kilometres (3.32 miles) in length. It is lapped 57 times which adds up to a total race length of 309.72 kilometres (192.45 miles). Although the track has a number of interesting twists and turns, turn 8 is generally considered to be the best and most challenging corner on the track. The turn is basically a combination of four corners which are joined together to form an intense turn with a 5G load capacity that lasts for four seconds. As if the turn itself wasn’t challenging enough, many drivers attempt to take it too fast and this usually results in them spinning off the track. Such was the case in the 2005 Turkish Grand Prix when Juan Pablo Montoya lost his leading advantage by taking turn 8 too fast in an attempt to lap Tiago Monteiro just two laps before the finish. His car spun out of control, tangled with his opponent and both were overtaken by Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.
Although he has never won the Turkish Grand Prix, the fastest lap time of 1:28.005 was set by Michael Schumacher whilst driving for Ferrari. In 2005 the race was won by Kimi Raikkonen and in 2006 the trophy was taken by Felipe Massa. Unfortunately at the end of 2006 the winners trophy was presented in such a way that the political neutrality policy of the FIA was compromised. Fears that the Turkish Grand Prix might be scratched from the World Championships were put to rest when Turkey was fined $5 million for their inappropriate behaviour.
Felipe Massa went on to claim first place again at the 2007 and 2008 Turkish Grand Prix events, with Jenson Button winning the 2009 event. Turkey is one of the host countries on the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship race calendar, with the action taking place on 28-30 May as the seventh event of the season.
Istanbul Park blends in seamlessly among 10 thousand of years of antiquity. Respectful of the country’s past, yet bold enough to represent the future of Formula One. The circuit was constructed during 2005 and is unique in that the cars run in an anti-clockwise direction around the circuit, making the Turkish Grand Prix only the third race on the F1 Grand Prix calendar to do so (with the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola and the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace at Interlagos being the other two). This spectacular 5.378 kilometer track was designed by famed German architect Herman Tilke, the same man who created the memorable tracks at Sepang, Bahrain and Shanghai.
The track at Istanbul Park has an average width of 15 meters, ranging from 14 to 21.5 meters, and covering over 2.215 million square meters total. There are a total of 14 corners including six right and eight left turns, the sharpest with a radius of merely 15 meters. The circuit runs over four different ground levels with a start/finish straight over 650 meters in length. The total race distance of the Turkish Grand Prix is 309.356 kilometers spread out over 58 laps.
Turn 8 in particular has achieved legendary status in a short amount of time. The corner is a fast, sweeping corner with four apexes, similar to a multi-apex sections of the old Nürburgring. Spectators and drivers alike raved about Turn 8, comparing it to legendary corners such as Eau Rouge and 130R. The circuit itself has already been compared to Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Another notable corner is Turn 1, a sharp downhill left-hander immediately after the front straight. This corner has been nicknamed by some as the “Turkish Corkscrew” in comparison to infamous “Corkscrew” at Laguna Seca. Both the 2006 F1 and MotoGP races at the circuit featured mutliple incidents at this corner.
Logistically speaking, Istanbul Park currently has a total capacity for 155,000 spectators, which are accommodated in 10 grandstands and 5 unnumbered and grassed general admission areas. Istanbul Park is located on the Asian side of Istanbul, approximately 90 kilometers from the centre of the city.
The Main Grandstand at Istanbul Park is located on the Pits Straight directly opposite the start/finish line and pit-boxes. It presents you with an excellent view of the Pits Straight, including the build-up to and the start of the race, the checkered flag at the finish of the race, as well as a view of the racing teams and their pit activities. The western side of the grandstand is situated opposite the podium, offering spectators great views of the podium celebrations after the race. The start line is located towards the middle of the grandstand. The F1 Village is also located behind this grandstand, which is easily accessible from this grandstand. Three bigscreen TV’s are located along this great grandstand, enabling spectators to follow the entire race and not lose track of the procedures.
Overall the five general admission areas provide for excellent viewing and offer good value for money admission. Istanbul Park is a naturally hilly circuit featuring a variety of steep mounds, which makes the viewing in the general admission areas good. But as always there are no seats and you must be there early to get a good spot, which you stand to lose should you have to visit a toilet or leave to buy food.
The 2008 Turkish Grand Prix turned out to be just the fast-paced, action-packed event that fans and spectators were hoping for. Punctured tires, scary accidents and some brilliant driving kept pulses racing as Felipe Massa struggled to defend his position at the front of the pack. In the end Massa managed to take the winner’s trophy for the Turkish Grand Prix for the third time in a row.
As the cars lined up on the starting grid that day, massive clouds gathered above threatening rain. There was no telling what would happen. The drivers spent ages waiting for the lights to be switched on and there was an air of tension all around. When the lights finally signaled the start of the race, the scene erupted into chaos. But in seconds the main contenders for the trophy erupted from the mess: Brazilian Felipe Massa made a clean break from the rest of the pack while Hamilton managed to slot into second place. In his efforts to gain ground, Raikkonen’s front wing nudged Kovalainen’s rear tire, puncturing it and causing a major setback for him.
At the back it was a confusion as Fisichella drove into the back of Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams, causing both to end their race before it really started. Vettel and Sutil suffered sufficient damage from the collision to have to be sent to the pits for repair work, giving them little hope of ever reclaiming the ground lost. Meanwhile Raikkonen lost his position at third place to Fernando Alonso and Robert Kubica due to heavy braking, but he was determined to reclaim his spot and immediately put into practice the perfect strategy. By closely tailing Alonso, Raikkonen was able to slipstream his opponent, allowing him to pull out and overtake. The two struggled neck in neck for a nail-biting second before the Ferrari suddenly disappeared into the distance.
Things continued to prove interesting after driver Hamilton shot out of the pit stops into first place ahead of Massa. Massa seemed to yield to the position and didn’t fight it. The majority of drivers seemed to settle where they were and the race proceeded without much excitement for a while.
By the end of the race it seemed clear that Massa was back in the lead and no one would be challenging his position. However the battle for second and third was a tight one fought by Hamilton and Raikkonen. In the final round of stops Hamilton managed to change his tires and get back out on the track extremely fast, leaving him in second place with Raikkonen pushing to reclaim his position. Raikkonen continued to hassle Hamilton for the remaining 16 laps until at last he decided to settle for third instead of risking an accident. So in the end it was Massa who took first place, followed by Hamilton in second and Raikkonen in third. The three drivers were clearly driving much better than the rest of the field and deserved their prizes.