I’m really looking forward to heading back to the Istanbul Park circuit for the Grand Prix this week.
One of the plus sides of this complicated season is that we’ve had great tracks like Istanbul added to the calendar along with Mugello, Portimao and Imola and that has given the teams, drivers and fans plenty to smile about amidst the ongoing issues of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The track is one of the best of the modern tracks that came onto the calendar through the 2000s.
I was lucky to drive there in GP2 and in F1 between 2007 and 2012 and always enjoyed the challenges it threw up.
There are some really fast and flowing sections as well as some big elevation changes.
There are also some tricky slow corners where you need to be able to change direction well, like Turns Four, Five and Six as well the final sector.
Turn Eight was the big talking point in the past as it was a real challenge for the drivers to go through there at full throttle in qualifying for a single lap with low fuel and new tyres. Now, with these big wide cars and tyres, it should be comfortably flat for all 20 drivers.
We should have some good overtaking opportunities too. The run up the hill from Turn Nine to the final three corners is fairly long with a steep gradient.
That part of the track is also very exposed to the wind and that will have a big effect to the slipstream and overtaking if we have a head wind.
Historically, the circuit has shown us some great battles and controversy as well – the two Red Bulls hitting each other in 2010 being the most famous incident.
I often think back to 2006 when Lewis Hamilton recovered brilliantly from an early spin to go from 18th to second in the GP2 race.
It’s a track which is quite power sensitive so I think the Ferrari-engined cars could struggle a bit. Renault could be strong considering their form at places like Silverstone and especially with how Daniel Ricciardo is driving this season.
But, of course, we would expect the two Mercedes and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to be the leading contenders.
The track hasn’t had any real racing on it for many years now and with fresh asphalt, it will be very low grip like Portimao. Plus, we have never been to race there this late in the year so expect the temperatures to be a lot cooler too.
The teams will be keen to get plenty of data during practice so expect to see a busy Friday!
Early starts: when to watch the Turkish GP
With a three-hour time difference between the UK and Turkey, it’s the earliest start times of the reshaped season this weekend for live coverage on Sky Sports F1 on a weekend Lewis Hamilton could clinch a record-equalling seventh world championship.
7.30am: Welcome to the Weekend LIVE!
8am: Practice One LIVE!
11.45am: Practice Two build-up LIVE!
12pm: Practice Two LIVE!
2.30pm: Story So Far LIVE!
8.45am: Practice Three build-up LIVE!
9am: Practice Three LIVE!
11am: Qualifying build-up LIVE!
12pm: Qualifying LIVE!
8.30am: Grand Prix Sunday LIVE!
10.10am: THE TURKISH GRAND PRIX LIVE!
12pm: Chequered Flag LIVE!
1pm: The Notebook LIVE!
3pm: Turkish GP highlights
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