The 2008 FIA World Championship proceeds to Istanbul next week for round five of the season and the fourth Turkish Grand Prix. Located on the Bosphorus Strait, which acts as a gateway between Asia and Europe, Istanbul is renowned for it s traditional versus modern dichotomy and provides for one of the most culturally diverse destinations on the calendar.
A relative newcomer still having only made its debut in 2005, the Hermann Tilke-designed Otodrom is a lesser known proposition than last week s race at Barcelona, but its state of the art facilities put it on a par with Bahrain and Shanghai from a driver, team and fan perspective.
“Istanbul itself is a cool city,â€ says Honda Test Driver Alex Wurz. “I ve been there a few times and there are amazing places to go out, and great things to see. The Bosphorus is spectacular; if you re going to the race, you should make a point of looking at it and feeling its history.”
I m looking forward to Istanbul,â€ adds BMW driver Nick Heidfeld. “This city is one huge international metropolis in a totally unique location. There s a lot more to discover there than our schedule ever allows.”
Why not visit this enchanting city and experience the racing first hand? Enter our ticket store to buy Formula One Practice, Qualifying and Race tickets and passes ( VIP Paddock Club access now available).
LAP OF THE TRACK with Alex Wurz
“Istanbul Park is a challenging track from a set-up point of view because of the variation in corner speeds and grip levels. There are the very fast changes in direction at the start of the lap, there s a long straight and then some slower stuff at the end of the lap, which makes set-up a compromise. The asphalt also changes a lot around the lap: it feels very slippery in the last sector and then you have a lot of grip in the first sector.”
“People talk a lot about the long Turn 8. For me, it s just bumpy and a neck-killer; it s not a place where going haywire gives you a lot of lap time because that s never the case in fast corners. Our minimum apex speed is about 250kph (155mph), and if you get it right, the biggest reward you have is showing the data to your engineer. The flip side of going too hard through here is that you might destroy your right-front tyre over a long stint.”
“For me, the biggest challenge of Turkey – apart from the traffic going into Istanbul – is the last section of the lap. The last three corners are very slow, all about 80kph (50mph) in second gear, and they re all inter-linked. If you make a tiny mistake under braking for the third-to-last corner, your track position for the entire complex is wrong, and that can affect your speed as you accelerate onto the start-finish straight. You also have to be disciplined because it s very easy to over-drive.”
Q & A with Heikki Kovalainen
Can you talk us through the famed turn eight at the Istanbul Speed Park?
Turn eight is made up of four corners, one corner after another just turning left, left, left and left, with four apexes. To get it right you have to hit one apex, then just lift a little bit at the right point and then you can go full throttle again for the next. It is not easily flat out, but it is almost flat out and the line is so crucial, that is one reason why it is so challenging and drivers like big challenges so I guess that is why we enjoy it so much. Also, it compresses in the middle of the corner, it dips a little bit and the car quite easily bottoms out. This is why you sometimes dust coming from the bottom of the car.
The circuit is also known for its elevation changes, is this something that has an impact on set-up?
It is definitely one of the circuits that has more up hills and down hills, also there are some apexes that are on the brown of the hill and are blind. There are also parts of the circuit that are very flat, so it doesn t have a big effect on the set-up as it would be too much of a compromise. It does mean you pay attention more to your driving lines and trying to maximise when you go on the power over these hills, trying to maximise your own technique. Going over the crest of hills is the same as in a road car, you get that sensation with your stomach, but you get used to it as you do more laps over the course of the weekend.
What is the track like for overtaking?
Its good, it has a number of places with straight line speed going into some slower corners and this means there are opportunities to overtake. I think the best place is at the end of the back straight. It is very long and you can outbrake.
History and background
The rollercoaster circuit designed by Aachen-based architect Herman Tilke entered the Formula One calendar in 2005. Prior to that there had been no Turkish Grand Prix. Thanks to the successful design of the complex and the attractions of the city of Istanbul, this newcomer to the fold has enjoyed tremendous popularity from the outset.
Istanbul encompasses the southern end of the Bosphorus strait, which divides it into a European part in the west and an Asian part in the east. The Golden Horn is an inlet of the Bosphorus that runs westwards and divides the European part of the city into a southern peninsula flanked by the Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn, where historic Istanbul is located, and the northern districts of the city bordering on historic Galata.
The centre of former Constantinople is dominated by imposing sacred architecture. The city limits encircle an area of 1,538.77 square kilometres, while the metropolitan region of Istanbul covers 5,220 square kilometres. The city s population has passed the ten million mark.
The statistical mean top temperature in May is 21 degrees Celsius. In August, when the GP was previously held, it is around eight degrees higher than that. But in absolute terms the difference in highest temperatures is even greater: 34°C in May and 49°C in August.
The Turkish cuisine, which is one of the richest in the world, appeals to the eye as well as the palate. Turkish food today is truly a living synthesis of Eastern and Western cultures. In addition to the many restaurants that serve traditional and international menus to satisfy the varied tastes of their guests, many nightclubs, cafes and bars offer fine menus along with a wide range of entertainment choices.
Namen DarÃ¼zziyaf is a huge dining room at Sifahane Cad. 6 Suleymaniye with a dome ceiling and can host up to 1100 guests at the same time. The menue offers more than 100 traditional Turkish dishes. A restaurant with the same name was in existence under the Ottoman sultans. Tel. 0212 511 84 14
At the Emek Manti Evi, KÃ¶basi Cad. 218, YenikÃ¶y, you will find specialities for the Black Sea region. Tel: 0212 262 69 81
The Haci Abdullah restaurant, Sakizagaci S. 17, Beyoglu, is one of the most gorgeous with great food, big portions and a friendly service. Tel: 0212 293 85 61
Changa is one of the most glamorous restaurants in Isanbul, however it is open for dinner only. Tel: 0212 251 7064
McLaren, BMW, Honda, Williams.