In terms of venues, the second part of the 2020 season has delivered a mix of spectacular new tracks and old favourites. Apart from Russia, a regular feature on the calendar for several years now, we have seen Mugello and Portimão make their debuts and the return of the Nürburgring and Imola. This weekend, we race in Turkey on another circuit much loved by the drivers, last used nine years ago: Istanbul Park.
Spectacular turn 8. The circuit is 5.338 kilometres long and features 14 corners, some of them among the most interesting on the calendar. They include the first turn, a steep downhill lefthander immediately after the start-finish straight. It’s been nicknamed the Turkish Corkscrew, because of its similarity to the famous turn at Laguna Seca in America. The best known corner however is Turn 8, a very fast four apex left hander, similar to parts of the Nordschleife at the Nürburgring. The race distance is 58 laps, equal to 309.356 km. The race was first run in 2005 when Kimi Räikkönen won, while the last time the race was held in 2011, victory went to Sebastian Vettel. Scuderia Ferrari has won three times in Turkey, all of them courtesy of Felipe Massa, his very first F1 win coming here in 2006, followed by two more in 2007 and 2008.
Spectators. Originally, the organisers were planning to allow a crowd of 100,000 to attend, however the worsening of the Covid-19 situation means that the race will now take place behind closed doors.
Programme. After the last round in Imola experimented with a two-day format, Turkey sees a return to normality with two free practice sessions on Friday at 11 and 15 local time (9 and 13 CET,) with the third on Saturday morning at 12 (10 CET.) Grid positions are decided starting at 15 (13 CET) with the eighth Turkish Grand Prix getting underway on Sunday 15 November at 13.10 (11.10 CET).
Sebastian Vettel #5
"I am happy to be going back to Istanbul Park, a circuit that holds many happy memories and some less so. For example, you could say my Formula 1 career began here in 2006, as I made the headlines setting the fastest time in what was my second Friday free practice session appearance with BMW Sauber. And I also won here in 2011, the last time we came to Turkey.
It’s a very interesting track which is very nice to drive. There are several changes of elevation that are much more severe than they appear on television, as well as some very exciting sections. Of course that includes Turn 8 with its three apexes, but actually, from a technical point of view, this track has a bit of everything. And I think that those drivers who have never been here before will also like it right from the start."
Charles Leclerc #16
"This will be my first time at Istanbul Park. I’ve watched a few videos of races and I’ve spoken to those who have raced there already and all the comments seem positive.
I can see the layout is very varied, with gradient changes and some spectacular corners. I am particularly looking forward to experiencing turn 8. It will be interesting to see how the current cars perform there, which will be something new for everyone."
Q&A with Laurent Mekies Sporting Director
This weekend sees the return of another former race venue, as the Turkish Grand Prix is back on the calendar in this unusual season. To find out more about how Scuderia Ferrari is preparing for the event, we caught up with Sporting Director Laurent Mekies.
"After Imola and Nürburgring and a debut for Mugello and Portimão, now it’s the return of Istanbul. This year has definitely produced an excellent test bed for our working methods when it comes to tackling race weekends. Coming into an event and being well prepared without any recent data to count on is very important in a sport where time is of the essence. I’d have to say that, from this point of view, the season has gone quite well so far and the experience gained this year will be very useful in the future. In the specific case of Istanbul, where we have not raced since 2011, we are fortunate to have Sebastian who has already raced here four times, while Charles will be tackling it for the first time, having been able to try it out on the simulator".
That means Charles has at least been able to get an idea about the famous turn 8, if only virtually, What can you tell us in detail about this corner?
"It’s really incredible, very quick, well over 260 km/h but what makes it unique is its length and as a result, the time taken to get round it. It puts the car and the tyres under a lot of stress and it can also be tricky for the drivers, especially over a race distance, but I’m sure they’ll all enjoy this very demanding and challenging track."
How do you think the SF1000 will perform here?
“Looking at the track characteristics, it won't be an easy weekend for us. Nevertheless, the pecking order behind the top three drivers is always very close as it has been all season and the slightest thing can make the difference between fighting for a place on the second row or not making it to Q2. Our main aim is to confirm the small progress we have seen in recent races and if possible, reduce the gap to those ahead of us in the Constructors’ championship.”
One element that will make the weekend a bit different for the team is that, for the first time this season, Mattia Binotto will be following the weekend activity from Maranello. Will that change anything?
Mattia has always approached his role in an innovative way, trying to think outside the box. He has come up with a method of working that gives the flexibility to manage the priorities in the most efficient way possible: he had already adopted this approach when he was technical director and has applied it even more so now as team principal. At first it might seem strange not to see him physically in the briefings or on the pit wall, but he will make use of all the current communication technologies so that his voice and input will be loud and clear to everyone, both inside and outside the team!”
GP contested 1004
Seasons in F1 71
Debut Monaco 1950 (Alberto Ascari 2nd; Raymond Sommer 4th; Luigi Villoresi DNF)
Wins 238 (23.70%)
Pole positions 228 (22.71%)
Fastest laps 254 (25.30%)
Podiums 772 (76.89%)
FERRARI STATS @ TURKISH GP
GP entered 7
Debut 2005 (M. Schumacher ret.; R. Barrichello 10th)
Wins 3 (42.86%)
Pole positions 3 (42.86%)
Fastest laps 3 (42.86%)
Total podiums 7 (100%)
Turkish GP Facts & Figures
0. The number of Turkish drivers who have raced in Formula 1. However, two have taken part in the junior series: Can Artam, 32 races in Formula 3000 and GP2, with two points scored in 2004 and 2005, and Jason Tahincioğlu, 40 races and no points scored in GP2 in 2006 and 2007.
3. Race tracks in Turkey. Apart from Istanbul Park, its first event being the Formula 1 race in 2005, there is the İzmit Körfez Circuit, built at Izmit in 1993, 1.950 kilometres in length and used for Formula 3 and Ülkü Park in Smyrna, built in 1997, 2.186 km long also previously used for the Turkish Formula 3 championship, a series that no longer exists.
5. The current drivers who have already raced at Istanbul Park in Formula 1. They are Kimi Raikkonen, who won the inaugural edition of the race, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, who won in 2010 and Sebastian Vettel who won the last race to be held here in 2011.
46. The distance in kilometres between Istanbul Park and the city that gives it its name. It is located in the suburb of Tuzla, which has a population of around 200,000. The track was designed by architect Hermann Tilke and is highly rated by the drivers.
1972. The year of the first international motor sport event held in Turkey. The Günaydin Rally was run up until 2017 and was usually a round of the European championship. The first edition was won by local driver Engin Serozan in a Renault 12. Apart from seven Formula 1 Grands Prix, Turkey hosted a round of the World Rally Championship 13 times between 2000 and 2020. There was also a local Formula 3 series featuring FIAT-engined Dallara chassis. The first champion was Mahir Bayindir in 1994 and the last in 2006 was Mert Tahincioğlu
This week in our history
11/11. In 2011, the first Ferrari Driver Academy Student was appointed as Scuderia Ferrari test driver. The man in question was young Frenchman Jules Bianchi, born in Nice in 1989. He continued as an FDA student while learning about Formula 1, making his test driving debut on 16 November 2011 as part of the two day young driver test at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit.
12/11. In 1914, Peter Whitehead was born in Menstone, UK. He drove in 10 Formula 1 races and is remembered as Ferrari’s first F1 customer. Enzo provided him with a car to race as a privateer in the 1950 French Grand Prix. He brought the 125 F1 home in third place behind the Alfa Romeos of Juan Manuel Fangio and Luigi Fagioli.
13/11. In 2009, the Finali Mondiali Ferrari took place at the Valencia circuit in Spain and featured the very first appearance of Spanish driver Fernando Alonso as a member of Scuderia Ferrari. He was given a rousing welcome by his new fans. The man from Oviedo got off to a winning start with the Maranello squad, taking victory in the opening round of the 2010 season, the Bahrain Grand Prix. With the Prancing Horse, he took part in 96 races, winning 11 and finishing on the podium 44 times.
14/11. In 2004, Rubens Barrichello and his friend from childhood, Tony Kanaan drove a kart in Scuderia Ferrari colours to victory in the 500 Miles of Granja Viana, racing against 74 other karts and over 300 drivers. It was Barrichello’s fifth win in this event.
15/11. Just two weeks on from winning in Japan, Gerhard Berger repeated that success at the wheel of his Ferrari F1-87 in the Australian Grand Prix. The Austrian was again in a class of his own. After being overtaken at the start by Nelson Piquet in the Williams, by the second lap, Berger retook the lead and went on to win by over a minute from team-mate Michele Alboreto, who inherited second place after Ayrton Senna was disqualified because the brake ducts on his Lotus did not comply with the regulations.