Istanbul Park F1: The legendary Hermann Tilke-designed Istanbul Park is back on the F1 menu, and it promises to be an exhilarating ride.
Istanbul Park has been called the best race track in the world by none other than Bernie Ecclestone, the former F1 boss. It is considered to be arguably legendary circuit designer Hermann Tilke’s best design till date. Istanbul Park often draws comparisons with the brilliant Spa circuit in Belgium, where this weekend’s race will take place.
The Istanbul Park is also known as the Istanbul Racing Circuit or the Istanbul Otodrom. It has been in existence for just over 15 years now, and has hosted 7 F1 Grands Prix. Apart from this, the track has also played host to GP2 and MotoGP.
The F1 race track is 5.34 kms in length, with 14 fascinating turns lined up, starting with the incredible left-hander on Turn 1. And then there is Turn 8, the multi-apex adding flavor like no one other track could. The race lap record of 1:24.77 minutes is held by the McLaren-Mercedes of Juan Pablo Montoya, set in the debut race.
Formula 1 at Istanbul Park
Brazilian Felipe Massa could count the Istanbul Park as his favorite track, having won an impressive three races here. And he did that in three consecutive seasons, from 2006 to 2008. He had high praise for the track in the post-race press conference after the hat-trick of wins.
“The Istanbul Park was the track where I made my career turn-around, and finally began winning races.”
Among the current roster, only four have F1 experience here: Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez. Kimi won it in the inaugural 2005 season, Hamilton in 2010, and Vettel in 2011, the last race there. The only other winner is Jenson Button, who won it in 2009 with his dominant Brawn.
The most iconic race moment would arguably be the titanic clash between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher for second place in 2006. The Spaniard eventually beat the German by just 0.081s then, with Massa winning the race. Considering a recent event in a different sport, the Spaniards would look at this victory over the Germans with a lot of fondness.
Sebastian Vettel: Incredible highs, incredible lows…
The Istanbul Park holds special importance for another German in Sebastian Vettel, having gone through both incredible highs and lows. He made his F1 race weekend debut here as the third driver for Sauber in 2007, the youngest debutant in F1 history then. But he had a start no one could have imagined: Got a penalty just nine seconds into his career! But Vettel bring Vettel, he set the fastest time in FP2, his F1 testing debut. The now four time world champion was brought alive at the Istanbul Park.
Teammate trouble in Turkey! 💥
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) August 25, 2020
And of course, no one can forget the ‘intra-team rivalry’ between him and Australian Mark Webber in the 2010 edition. The Red Bulls clashes with each other on the way to Turn 12, signalling the beginning of the end of team harmony at the Milton Keynes-based team. The pair have somewhat buried the hatched since, with Webber speaking well of the German while on his punditry assignments.
It remains to be seen how the Ferrari driver fares when F1 truckloads land at Istanbul Park for the race weekend from November 13-15.