Racing resumes in Istanbul as the championship battle intensifies.
Following the joy and agony of the Russian Grand Prix two weeks ago, Formula One resumes in Turkey. Lando Norris will feel hard done by the rain last time around which robbed him of his maiden Formula One victory, and while one Brit suffered, it was to the joy of another as Lewis Hamilton managed to leave Russia with an unlikely victory and reclaim that championship lead.
Amidst all the drama in the front between Hamilton and Norris, Max Verstappen quietly charged through the field to take a stunning P2, making sure he didn’t fall behind Hamilton with a large deficit.
Turkey has always been a track where Red Bull have struggled, and apart from Sebastian Vettel‘s win there in 2011, the team haven’t really been competitive at all; they will be looking to change that, and given the machinery they posses this season, it should not be a tall order.
With Mercedes boss Toto Wolff promising to throw the kitchen sink at the remainder of the championship battle, the final round of races is set to be a mouth watering experience for the fans.
The start is a tricky one, with Turn 1 being one of the most challenging points in the entire lap: it leads to a blind corner and drivers need to make sure to get it right, or it could be all over before it starts. This is succeeded by a flowing sector which sees the drivers go uphill before taking yet another blind corner at the Turn 3 left-hander.
Drivers swoop downhill through Turns 4, 5 and 6 before heading to Turn 7, which is a blind uphill corner. Entry is crucial into the turn, lest a poor entry will lead to drivers losing speed at the exit which will affect the lap time, especially with the next few sections coming up.
Turn 8 is a multi-apex, high speed left-hander, which is one of the most acute corners on the Formula One calendar. A large turn, it takes up 12% of the entire lap.
Exiting from Turn 8, it’s a sharp left-right sequence before heading into the longest straight of the entire lap. The Turn 11 kink sees the second DRS zone before heading into the low-speed Turns 12, 13 and 14 chicane before the drivers put down their foot heading into the final DRS zone of the main straight to catch the chequered flag.
THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO
An Aggressive Mercedes
Ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said that for the remainder of the season the German team would be undertaking an ‘aggressive approach’.
Throughout the turbo-hybrid era, we have never seen Mercedes go aggressive, which is mainly due to the fact that they have never faced a challenge of this sort. Wolff has stated that the team will do everything to get an eighth straight Drivers’ title and help Hamilton take his eighth title as well. Hamilton’s title rival Verstappen and his own teammate Valtteri Bottas have both taken new power units in the last few races and Wolff has also spoken about the possibility of Hamilton taking one in a bid to throw everything at Red Bull.
With the title battle already heating up and the championship lead being exchanged between Hamilton and Verstappen almost after every round, Mercedes’ aggressive approach for the final seven races will only add to the drama. Hamilton is one of the greatest drivers to have graced the sport, if not the greatest, and given the intensity of the title fight, you can count on him to bring his A-game to the race. Red Bull have their task cut out and will need both of their drivers to work together if they want to win either of the championships; going up against Hamilton, though, will make it a tough task.
After the debacle that was 2020, the Scuderia have made quite the recovery to be fighting for podiums again. Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have taken podiums, and Leclerc was also on the brink of victory in Silverstone, which only adds credibility to Ferrari’s improvement from last year which saw them finish a shocking sixth – without any victories, having taken only three podiums the entire season.
The Scuderia have already pushed their focus towards their 2022 car, but they did have a final power unit upgrade for both the drivers. Leclerc took his in the Russian Grand Prix and was running well until the rain laid waste to his race, and Sainz is all set to take his power unit change and start the race from the back of the field. Leclerc knows he will be able to push his car to the limit in Turkey without a penalty and given the pace their cars have already shown this season, it bodes well for the Maranello-based outfit.
Like Mercedes and Red Bull ahead of them, Ferrari themselves are engaged in an epic third-place battle in the Constructors’ standings with McLaren, and given the strong form the Woking team have shown in the last few races, Ferrari know that there is no room for error.
Stability and Focus
With Alex Albon announced as George Russell‘s replacement at Williams and Haas retaining their current pairing of Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher, the Formula One grid for next season is more or less complete, with only the second Alfa Romeo seat up for grabs.
With the grid sorted and drivers having the assurance of drives next season, both the teams and the drivers will now shift their focus to finishing the season strongly and making preparations for 2022 given the major changes coming our way.
- Aston Martin have seen a hot and cold season so far; while their highs have been brilliant, the lows have been equally worse. They were on for a brilliant finish at the Russian Grand Prix, but with Stroll shunting his teammate and the rain coming at the worst time, the British team were left licking their wounds once again, finishing out of the points.
Given how strong they were at Istanbul last year, with Stroll on pole and Vettel finishing on the podium, Aston Martin will hope for a strong result once again to make sure they stay alive in that crucial P5 fight in the Constructors’ championship.
- McLaren have gone from being the back-of-the-grid team to midfield potentials to now race-winning competitors in the last few years. They took their first victory since 2012 in Italy two races ago and will be looking for a strong run in Turkey too. This, though, won’t be an easy task given how strong Ferrari have been this season. Istanbul was the track where Ferrari got their best finish last season (P3 and P4), and with new power units and improved machinery, the Scuderia can spoil McLaren’s party.
- Right after announcing his retirement at the end of this season, Kimi Räikkönen missed the next two races after contracting COVID-19, though he made a stunning comeback in Russia to finish in the points. The Finn rued not finishing higher up, however, and given the hunger he has, one can expect him to bow out on a high.
Although he doesn’t have the best machinery under him to regularly fight for points, Räikkönen has enough experience to make the most of a chaotic situation in front of him. The 2007 world champion has seven races left and he will give everything in order to walk away knowing that he pushed himself to the limit. Count on Räikkönen to deliver for Alfa Romeo once again.
Number of Laps – 58
Circuit Length – 5.338 km
Race Distance – 309.4 km
Lap Record – 1:24.770s (Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren, 2005)