To date, there have been three runnings of the Turkish Grand Prix and they have all been won by the current Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver line-up: for the past two years, victory, having started from pole position has gone to Felipe Massa, while Kimi Raikkonen won the inaugural event at Istanbul Park when driving for another team.
"We hope to maintain our momentum from the past two victories here in Istanbul and from the last three consecutive wins so far this season," commented Team Manager, Luca Baldisserri. "The cars used by Kimi and Felipe are basically to the same specification as those that were used in Spain, with the exception that at Istanbul Park we will not use the slotted nose. This is because this solution is much more efficient at medium to high downforce levels, whereas Turkey requires less downforce. The new nose worked very well, but as we said when we gave it its race debut in Barcelona, we would only use it at circuits where we deem it will bring us an advantage over a more conventional component."
On previous form, the interesting and technically demanding track would seem to suit Ferrari and especially Felipe. And it is also worth noting that last year, the fastest lap went to Kimi. However, a strong showing here and in the races so far this year does not make the Scuderia the automatic favourite for victory on Sunday. While the Maranello marque has had strong opposition from two other teams since the start of the year, it is clear that more teams have now made a step forward and so the challenge this weekend might not necessarily come only from the usual suspects. Even if the one-two finish in Spain a fortnight ago might have looked easy from the outside, from the cockpit and the pitwall, it was felt to be a closely contested battle.
This year, the Byzantine race occurs earlier in the season and therefore the weekend will take place in much cooler conditions than previous events, when the Turkish GP was held in late August. This means track temperatures could be around 20 degrees Celsius cooler than in the past. This will affect tyre performance on a track that is always very tough on tyres, not in terms of actual wear, but in terms of loads and stress. This is a particular problem for tyres on the right hand side of the car, caused by the nature of the track layout which features several long corners, the most famous of which is Turn 8. "This is a very complex corner that presents drivers with a real challenge and depending on their point of view, it can be seen as anywhere between two and four corners in one!" says Baldisserri. "Apart from any questions of challenge or spectacle provided by Turn 8, more importantly in this sport, it can cost a driver a lot of time if he gets it wrong or if his car is not suited to its demands, not just through the turn itself, but in the following section of track."
The low to medium downforce nature of the circuit, combined with a long straight on the back section, means that theoretically, overtaking is possible, even if passing another car is always difficult. For example, looking back at the 2006 race here, Massa was leading, while in third place, his then team-mate, Michael Schumacher, although having much better race pace than Alonso, was unable to get past the Spaniard, who managed to keep the German behind him for around ten laps.
Technically, this round of the world championship takes place in Asia, as the Bosphorus river marks the divide between the Occident and the Orient, however, in terms of paddock appearance, this is a full European race with teams having their trucks and motorhomes in place. Nevertheless, in terms of transportation, it is unique, in that all the teams send cars and freight by sea ferry from Trieste in Italy to Istanbul, which requires more time and therefore an earlier departure, which makes for a big logistical challenge.
Prior to this event, the Scuderia ran last Saturday at Vairano, with Marc Gene at the wheel of an F2008, although the day was actually more of a preparation for the following races in Monaco and Canada, as immediately post-Turkey there is a test session at the Paul Ricard circuit in the South of France. The advantage of running at Le Castellet is that the venue offers the facility to run on different track layouts, so that in the course of the same week, it is possible to simulate the high downforce nature of the streets of Monte Carlo and the low downforce set-up required for the Montreal track.
But for now, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's total focus is on Istanbul Park when after 58 laps and 309.396 kilometres on Sunday afternoon, fighting against some very tough opposition, the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship will have reached quarter distance.Source Ferrari