APRIL 28, 2011
Istanbul's Turn 8 will test Pirellis
Istanbul Park's exciting high-speed multi apex Turn 8 will play an important part in tyre wear and hence race strategy in next weekend's fourth round of the FIA Formula 1 world championship.
Even in previous seasons with more durable rubber, Lewis Hamilton's aggressive style dictated a different race strategy from then McLaren team mate Heikki Kovalainen and, looking ahead to Turkey, Jenson Button said: "I think there'll once again be a lot of focus on tyre durability and drop-off next weekend.
"Looking at the track configuration, our simulations suggest that Turkey will be a critical test for the tyres - particularly the front-right, which will be placed under considerable load through Turn 8. Tyre wear will probably determine every team's race strategy. It will be important to run the tyre within a safe operating window and that's likely to determine when and how often we stop. The weather also looks like it's going to be a bit colder than we're used to in Turkey and that might also have an effect on how the tyre operates. It's going to be another interesting race."
Hamilton, winner of last year's controversial Turkish GP after the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber collided, enjoys the track and thinks Istanbul is a venue where you fully benefit from a well-sorted chassis.
"Everyone talks about Turn 8, which is a fantastic corner," Hamilton says, "but I also love late-braking into Turns 9 and 12, because you can get the car into the corner while still carrying quite a bit of speed. I think we'll be seeing drivers working hard to look after their tyres throughout the race, particularly in Turn 8, which is one of the most demanding corners for tyres anywhere on the calendar.
"It's also a circuit where KERS will be a major benefit. Most of the straights come after low-speed corners, so there's plenty of scope for using it - most notably out of Turn 10, but also out of the final corner. There's always quite a big chance for passing into Turn 12 because it's quite easy to stay with a leading car out of Turn 10 and duck into the tow."
McLaren will evaluate some small aerodynamic bodywork refinements during Friday free practice at a race that will also see rivals bringing significant update packages.
"We're under no illusions that we need to improve our qualifying and race pace if we are to remain a threat at the front," says team principal Martin Whitmarsh. "Our pace of development is what can win us this championship and we go to Turkey determined to ensure our upgrades deliver."