Formula One heads to Turkey for the fifth round of the season where Bridgestone’s hard and medium compound Potenza tires will face the tricky turn eight, as well as the rest of the difficult-to-master 5.34 km Hermann Tilke designed track, for the Petrol Ofisi Turkish Grand Prix on 9-11 May.
The Istanbul Park Circuit has hosted the Turkish Grand Prix since its inauguration in 2005. The first anti- clockwise track on the calendar this season, it has a mix of almost every type of corner that is seen on a grand prix circuit. Only a small portion of the track is on level ground, the majority being either uphill or downhill to present drivers with a real roller-coaster ride.
Turn eight is one of the rare pieces of level ground on the circuit, however, but it presents the biggest challenge over the course of a lap. A triple-apex left-hander, the corner has a downhill entry which levels off and keeps on turning left until it has helped generate some of the highest G forces of the year, putting the tires, cars and drivers under high loads.
The final combination of corners before heading on to the start-finish straight will also give competitors plenty to think about. The left-right-left of turns 12-14 are the lowest speed areas of the track and come immediately after the fastest section of straight.
This combination is a breeding ground for tire graining, so teams and drivers will have to pay particular attention here to minimize this, especially early in the race weekend when the circuit is dirtier and has less rubber on it. High speeds and heavy braking both conspire to mean a lot of energy is being put through the tires in Turkey so watching wear and degradation will be a consideration.
The Turkish Grand Prix is taking place earlier in the year than in previous seasons. This means it is unlikely to be one of the hottest races of the year, which it has been previously when held in the middle of the summer. Last year, Felipe Massa (Ferrari) achieved his third win of the season in the Turkish Grand Prix, which was held in August. Massa started from pole and used a medium-medium-hard strategy to take his win.
“Istanbul has a wide range of different corner types and is a very difficult circuit to master in terms of car set-up and maximizing tire potential,” said Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development. “In Istanbul we face the highest G forces we see all season so we are bringing the hardest tires in our range for this race. Historically, we have seen hot temperatures in Turkey, and the change to May should mean slightly lower temperatures. Last year we did see some drivers experience problems with their use of our tires, so we have made changes to the tire construction to minimize the chances of this happening again. This circuit is not only a challenge for our tires, drivers face a tough race too as the circuit is not clockwise like most of the tracks on the calendar.”
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