Istanbul Park - a Formula One set-up guide 02 Jun 2009
The purpose-built anti-clockwise circuit on the outskirts of Istanbul offers a mix of challenging low and high-speed corners and has already established its position as a firm favourite with the drivers. Overtaking is difficult, especially in the first half of the lap, but the long back straight leading into the tight hairpin of Turn 12 offers the ideal opportunity for a lunge under braking. Combine this with the challenge of Turn Eight, which is one of the most demanding of the year, and you have all the ingredients for an exciting Grand Prix. Renault explain how they plan to ready the R29 for racing
As a relatively new facility the track surface at Istanbul is in good condition and the kerbs are not especially aggressive, which makes it quite straightforward to find a stable car balance. Renault will seek a compromise between stiffer settings for the high-speed part of the lap to give a good change of direction, and softer settings for the low-speed section, particularly the final few corners to ensure good mechanical grip.
Driver Nelson Piquet explains: "It's quite difficult to find the right compromise with car set-up at Istanbul because the lap is so varied in terms of corner speeds and grip. The last three corners of the lap are the slowest on the circuit, taken in second gear at around 80 km/h. Turn 12 after the long back straight is the biggest braking zone of the circuit and offers the best overtaking opportunity of the lap. It's easy to make a mistake here and go in too deep, which puts you out of position for the final couple of corners and can cost you a lot of time."
There are few critical high-speed corners at Istanbul Park, but the team will still run with medium downforce settings in order to carry good speed through the long left-hander of Turn Eight, which puts high g-forces through the drivers' necks.
Fernando Alonso explains: "Turn Eight is one of the quickest and longest left hand corners of the year. It's really a series of corners with four apexes, although we treat it as one apex and try to be as smooth as possible with the steering inputs. We don't touch the brake at any stage through the corner, and simply lift the throttle slightly to keep the car online. In the middle of the corner we're doing about 260km/h and you can really feel the g-forces on your body. It's easy to understeer wide in this corner, which will cost you a lot of time, but there's plenty of run-off to save you."
While the aero grip keeps the cars glued to the track through Turn Eight, it is mechanical grip that predominates between Turns Three to Five and Turns 12 to 14.
The braking zone into Turn 12 after the long back straight is the most significant on the circuit. It also represents the best overtaking opportunity and will normally see plenty of action during the Grand Prix. Overall the circuit is not particularly demanding on the brakes, which have enough time to cool on the long straights before the main braking zones, although with medium downforce settings the drivers may struggle with locking of the rear brakes.
The Turkish Grand Prix is quite a demanding track on the tyres, largely due to Turn Eight which puts high loadings through the tyres, particularly the front right. To avoid any potential problems, we can adjust suspension settings and front wing angle; however, we must always be mindful of finding the correct balance between protecting the tyres and maintaining mechanical grip, to ensure the car is quick in the more technical parts of the circuit. Bridgestone will supply the hard and soft compounds from their 2009 range, as was the case for the Spanish Grand Prix earlier in the year.
Istanbul presents a varied workout for the engine, requiring both good top speed and low end performance. Turn Eight remains a constant concern where the engine is concerned as it is important to ensure effective power delivery at high revs for good performance in this high-speed corner. Overall around 65 percent of the lap is spent on full throttle, which is about average for the circuits on the calendar.