Learning curves - Toyota on Turkey 10 Aug 2005
The forthcoming race in Istanbul is very much a 'blank sheet' for all of the Formula One teams - the first time they will get to drive the circuit in anger will be during Friday practice before the Grand Prix.
The Toyota team, for one, is optimistic about their prospects for the inaugural race on what will be Formula One's newest circuit.
"Before we go to a new track, all the teams receive a computer file with information on the circuit," explains Dieter Gass, Toyota's Chief Race Engineer, "Then you run some simulations using specialist software. First you determine the likely level of downforce and you establish your gear ratios. Then you have to look more at the detail about what you have to do to the suspension settings and you try to characterise the circuit based on the experience that you have.
"From there you basically decide which set-up you will start with for the first practice session. On the first visit to a new circuit you can see some differences between the way teams run on Friday morning. For example in China last year we made the right conclusions and that made a difference. To us, Istanbul looks like a fairly typical medium downforce circuit, like many others on the calendar. But you need to verify that the simulations you've done are correct when the cars start running."
Both of the team's race drivers are looking forward to making acquaintance with Istanbul Park, too.
"When you go to a new circuit it doesn't really have a major effect on the weekend," Jarno Trulli reckons, "you just make sure you walk around the track on Thursday, then you spend the first session on Friday learning the circuit. By the second session it's back to normal and the rest of the weekend is the same as usual. Before we get there we have pretty much no idea about what the circuit will be like for driving. The back straight looks long so we might have a chance of overtaking at the end of that. The only other thing that stands out is that it is an anti-clockwise circuit. That means you might feel it in your neck because the pressures are the other way round from usual. There are some hills but when it comes to blind corners you just pick your braking point on Friday morning and get used to it. Apart from that you just go there and see what happens. I've never been to Turkey, so I'm looking forward to seeing the country."
Ralf Schumacher has already visited Turkey - but like his team mate he'll be encountering the circuit for the first time next Thursday:
"When you go to a new track you usually spend the first session getting used to it. In this case it's a brand new circuit for everyone, so it's not too much of a problem. Everyone is affected in a similar way. I haven't seen any simulations yet, and the circuit maps are just lines on a page. The fact that this circuit has hills makes things more interesting than usual. The blind corners aren't a big problem but it won't be easy to brake downhill and sometimes you tend to lock up wheels on those kind of circuits. So I will take the scooter round on Thursday just to see which corner comes after which corner. Then you take the car on Friday and do the best you can."
Toyota are currently running fourth in the constructors' championship, 18 points behind third-placed Ferrari.