With only two points separating championship leader Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, the battle is highly competitive as the championship is nearing its last third. Today will see drivers tackle Round 16 of the FIA Formula One World Championship that brings them to Istanbul Park, home of the Turkish Grand Prix.
After a nine-year absence, Formula One returned to Turkey for the Turkish Grand Prix last year. The Intercity Istanbul Park was always on the drivers’ list of favourite race tracks thanks to its challenging layout, flowing and undulating nature, but last year’s return showed a very different face of the track due to its resurfaced asphalt that caught drivers by surprise due to its uncharacteristically low grip level.
A challenging track – With its length of 5.338km, the Intercity Istanbul Park belongs to the longer tracks. Drivers will need to complete a total of 58 laps to cover the race distance of 309.396km. There is a slight difference between the start and finish line with the former being 208m further ahead.
More aggressive tyre selection - To further aid grip, Pirelli has moved a step softer in its compound choice, swapping last year’s hardest choices for the C2, C3 and C4 compounds this weekend.
Reconstruction - The slippery nature of the freshly-laid asphalt dominated proceedings in 2020 with drivers finding extremely low grip on the opening day. The track has since had almost a year to cure, and has also been water-blasted to aid grip, which seems to have worked out perfectly as the Intercity Istanbul Park has provided drivers with good grip since Free Practice 1.
Pit lane – Drivers will be required to adhere to a speed limit of 80kph in the pit lane. That is a factor that strategists will need to consider when deciding over the strategy with the one-stop and two-stop strategies both being very much possible in today’s race.
Two DRS zones – There will be two DRS zones at the Turkish Grand Prix. The first detection point is 82 metres before Turn 9, with the activation point 82m before Turn 11. The second zone has its detection point 33m before Turn 13, while the activation point is 69m after Turn 14.
The fastest lap – Interestingly, the lap record was set at the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix with Juan Pablo Montoya recording the fastest ever race lap with a time of 1m24.770 with McLaren in 2005. The non-official, fastest ever lap was registered yesterday when Lewis Hamilton set a 1m 22.868s on his way to the pole position.
Last year's big return – Today’s Turkish Grand Prix will be the ninth FIA Formula One World Championship race in Turkey. The country joined the sport in 2005 and featured annually for the following six years.
The Brazilian – Felipe Massa is the most successful driver around the Istanbul Park. The former Ferrari driver took his maiden F1 victory in Turkey in 2006, followed by two other victories in the following two years. The other winners are Kimi Räikkönen, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. The Finn won the inaugural race with McLaren-Mercedes while the German emerged victorious last time out when the sport visited Istanbul.
The Italians – Owing to Felipe Massa’ successes in the red car, Ferrari is the most successful outfit at the Turkish Grand Prix with two wins. McLaren has claimed two triumphs while Brawn GP and Mercedes are one-time winning teams at Istanbul.
The Finn and the Spaniard – Kimi Räikkönen holds the record for most fastest laps with two. The Finn achieved this feat with Ferrari. Fernando Alonso has the most podium finishes of any drivers in Istanbul despite never winning the event. The Spaniard stood on the podium with Renault twice and once with McLaren and Ferrari.
First pole- For Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll, the Intercity Istanbul Park is a memorable venue as both drivers achieved their first pole at this track. The Brazilian scored his maiden F1 pole in 2006 with Ferrari while Lance Stroll took his first F1 pole position at last year’s race with Racing Point.
Sponsors – The Turkish Grand Prix have been supported by different sponsors over the years. Petrol Ofisi was the title-giving sponsor between 2006 and 2008, ING was the main sponsor in 2009 while DHL partnered the event in 2011.