Turkish Grand Prix Preview

turkeymainRound seven of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Formula One circus to Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix. The 58-lap race takes place at the 5.338km (3.317mile) Istanbul Park circuit, which is one of only two anti-clockwise tracks on this year’s calendar.

Istanbul Park is located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, the transverse channel that links the Mediterranean with the Black Sea, about 90 kilometres (56 miles) from the centre of Istanbul. The undulating topography upon which the track was built in 2005 has helped to create one of the most technically challenging racetracks in the world, and also one of the most physical for the drivers.

A unique feature of the Turkish Grand Prix is the means by which the teams’ transporters travel to and from the race. Along with the rest of the teams’ freight, they were shipped by sea from Trieste in Italy on Wednesday and are due to arrive at the port of Istanbul over the weekend.

Experience the Turkish Grand Prix and upcoming races first hand, enter our ticket store to buy Formula One Practice, Qualifying and Race tickets and passes ( VIP Paddock Club access now available).


Vital Statistics:

  • Date: 07/06/09
  • Circuit Length: 5.338km
  • Race Distance: 309.396km (58 laps)
  • Winner 2008: Felipe Massa – Ferrari

Circuit Guide


Drivers Eye:

Lewis Hamilton: “I love racing in Turkey: it s a real challenge because you need to attack the lap to get a good time, but you also need to be careful with your tyres if you push too much, particularly through Turn Eight, then your tyres are going to suffer.

“It s all about finding the perfect balance in practice and being disciplined in the race so you don t overdo it. I also love the fact that it s a new circuit that has really captured the flavour of some of the older, classic tracks it s got a bit of everything and is fantastic to drive. Also, as it s anti-clockwise, it gives your neck a bit of a workout but you just need to make sure you ve exercised the left side of your neck a little more than usual before getting in the car.”


Heikki Kovalainen: “Turkey is all about Turn Eight the high-speed, four-apex left-hander. On a good day in qualifying, it s flat-out and that s a pretty good feeling when you get it right. It s also very important to look after your tyres through Turn Eight you put a lot of load through the tyres, particularly the fronts, so it s a good idea to look after them during the race. The best place to overtake here is into Turn 12, the corner at the end of the back straight. You can get a good tow and slipstream past with KERS we should hopefully see some exciting racing.”


The anti-clockwise direction of Istanbul Park, with its eight
left-handed corners, has no direct bearing on car set-up. However, as
with any racetrack there are several key moments on the lap, the most
significant of which is Turn 8.


The cars and drivers pull up to 5G for seven seconds through this
triple-apex left-hander, making it one of the most physical corners in
the world for the drivers. The minimum speed through here is 250kph
(155mph), but that’s not the reason why it’s a key corner from a
technical point of view. A mid-corner bump, when the car is fully
loaded, forces the engineers not to set the ride height too low and that
punishes the car’s handling through other corners.

A pre-requisite for a competitive lap time at Istanbul Park is good car
balance because there are a number of 180-degree corners that reward
good handling. Then there’s the slow left-right-left sequence at the end
of the lap that leads the cars back onto the pit straight. The braking
point into this section sees the cars slow from 300kph (186mph) down to
80kph (50mph), which makes it the best overtaking point on the lap.

Full throttle: 62%
Brake wear: Medium
Downforce level: Medium – 6/10
Tyre compounds: Medium / Hard
Tyre usage: Medium
Average speed: 220kph (137mph)

BMW on Turkey:

Technical Insight Willy Rampf: “The drivers race anti-clockwise at Istanbul Park and the circuit offers plenty of variety and entertainment. There are slow sections where good traction is required. And then there is the spectacular Turn 8, made up of four distinct sections and yet taken in one line at going on for 250 km/h. Given the long often uphill straights, the cars must not have too much drag. Good aerodynamic efficiency is the key to setting a good lap time.”

Nick Heidfeld: “It was freezing at Istanbul in 2008, even though spring had arrived in central Europe. I m hoping for a bit more luck with the weather this time around. Turn 8 is the jewel in the crown of this circuit. It has several apexes and is long, fast and challenging. All in all I think this is a great track. However, the daily journey to the circuit can take a while and be rather difficult. It is located on the Asian side of the city, and if you re staying on the European side you have to get through the crowds on the Bosphorus Bridge every day.”

Sources: Honda Racing (2008), McLaren, BMW Sauber