For most people, Turkish delight is a popular, gel-like sweet that, if C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is anything to go by, is worth selling out your family for. In Formula 1, it’s an equally mouth-watering prospect, but for very different reasons: it’s a spectacular 3.3-mile ribbon of asphalt with multi-apex corners, swooping elevation changes and plenty of overtaking opportunities. That’s right folks, after a nine-year wait, we’re finally returning to Istanbul, which was… ‘Constantinople, now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople. Been a long time gone, Constantinople.’ But let’s not get into all that.
Instead, it’s time to focus on all this weekend’s action with our preview for the Turkish Grand Prix. It’s your chance to hear from Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris and McLaren F1 Technical Director James Key; learn what to watch out for in Istanbul; and get the lowdown on our latest signed merch giveaway.
How to follow
|Where||Intercity Istanbul Park|
|When||13 - 15 November|
|Start time||13:10 local, 10:10 GMT, 05:10 EDT|
|Follow||TEAMStream and the McLaren App for exclusive commentary and insight|
What they say
“We’ve managed to score important points in the last races and the fight for third in the Constructors’ is insanely close, with only one point separating us and our rivals. I don’t remember a tighter battle in the midfield in recent years. We can't afford to lose any opportunity and every session of the weekend is important. Extracting the most from the car starting on Friday and into quali can make a big difference for the race. Every little detail can have an impact and with only four races left we need to keep focused.
“I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted us to race at Istanbul Park at the start of the year but it’s great that we are. Another new track for me and for many others. It looks like an interesting old-school circuit that should provide a few opportunities to overtake, and hopefully we can put on a good show for the fans and bring home a good result. Let’s go!”
“Istanbul Park will be a new challenge for me this weekend as I’ve never raced there before, but it’s a track I’m really looking forward to. From what I’ve seen, and the clips I’ve watched online, it has all the parts to make it an exciting race. Obviously, when people talk about this track they mention Turn Eight, which will be a fun challenge to go flat-out around the multi-apex left-hander in the cars we have this season.
“The midfield battle is so close with only one point separating three teams. I know everyone in the team will give it their all to try and do the best we possibly can this weekend. Hopefully, the track will give us more chances to overtake than in Imola, so we can try and score some important points.”
“Once again, it’s great to return to a different circuit to those we’ve been visiting in recent years. The last time we raced in Turkey was 2011, so it’s been some time since the team went to Istanbul Park. It’s one of those tracks which is very technical but fantastic to drive and puts a lot of demand on the car, particularly at Turn Eight with that famous multi-apex corner which will be flat-out in these machines.
“The track itself is a real mix of low and high speed, it’s dominated by a set of relatively low-speed corners but also several long straights as well. So, selecting our wing level with these cars, which are very different from the cars in 2011, will be one of the challenges that we face this weekend.
“Since 2011 we’ve been through several regulation changes, so even though it’s a track we know a bit about, with today’s cars it’s going to be quite different. We expect the lap-times to be several seconds faster and some of the slower corners in 2011 will become more medium-speed corners now, so there’s still a lot to learn for the weekend.
“Understanding the track surface, which I believe is new, adds certain challenges to any race weekend. New tarmac is often smooth but also has low grip and can evolve very quickly over a race weekend. So, knowing how that’s working in conjunction with the tyres and the set-up of the car is going to be a challenge for Friday, as it has been at recent events with circuits not familiar to us with these cars.
“We’ve approached the end of the season very quickly since starting it, which has all happened in a compressed manner. Going back to or visiting new circuits throughout this season has been a great technical challenge. With four races to go there’s still everything to play for. It’s a busy period finishing off 2020, going into 2021 with the workload we’ve had with the engine change, and of course, our 2022 project is at the forefront of our minds too. Credit goes to the entire team who continues to work hard throughout this season, especially given the circumstance everyone is currently facing.”
What the stats say
Not for the first time this season, Carlos and Lando are set to race at a circuit they’ve never been to before. But, with Istanbul Park’s abundance of challenging corners punctuated by high-speed straights, both are sure to relish racing in Turkey this weekend. Like Imola, Istanbul Park is an anti-clockwise circuit and that might be a good omen for Lando, as he has never finished outside the points in F1 when racing in this direction.
Prior to this weekend, the Turkish Grand Prix has been held on seven occasions, from 2005 to 2011. McLaren scored victory in the inaugural race when Kimi Räikkönen romped to success by leading every lap from pole position, while Lewis Hamilton took the twelfth grand prix win of his career here in 2010 – after a thrilling dice with team-mate Jenson Button who came home second.
What to watch out for
Turn Eight, Turn Eight, Turn Eight… There’s no escaping it, there’s going to be a lot of talk about Turn Eight this weekend, and for good reason. It’s got not one, not two, not three, but four, yep that’s right, four apexes and, for the first time in the history of the sport, drivers are set to take it flat out this weekend – or at least try to. When F1-circuit guru Hermann Tilke designed Istanbul Park, he even engineered bumps into this corner just to add to the challenge – because being subjected to more than 5 g while the tyres scream for mercy just isn’t enough!
This weekend isn’t all about Turn Eight though. Far from it. This is an absolute cracker of a circuit. It’s technical, it’s fast, several corners are completely blind, and it’s a track that promotes overtaking – Turn One, with its downhill plunge that’s reminiscent of Laguna Seca’s infamous Corkscrew, is a prime example. Bottom line: we’ve got all the ingredients for a riveting race this weekend.
Away from the track – although, obviously, he will be spending a lot of time on it – it’s Lando’s 21st birthday on Friday, so don’t be surprised to see a celebratory cake make an appearance at some point during proceedings. And, of course, a slice of birthday luck wouldn’t go amiss too.
What to wear
Everyone loves the 2020 McLaren Lando Norris Collection. Who doesn’t? Well, it just got even better – yeah, we didn’t think that was possible either – with the addition of a new T-shirt. But this isn’t just any T-shirt: it features the graphics designed by six-year-old Eva for the helmet that Lando used at the British Grand Prix earlier this season. Not only does this tee look utterly brilliant, McLaren's proceeds from its sale will go to a brilliant cause by being donated to BBC Children in Need. We’ve also got a limited run of 1:2 scale ‘Eva Edition’ helmet replicas for you to get your hands on and, once again, McLaren's proceeds will be donated to BBC Children in Need.
Right, we’ve got to that part of the preview where it’s usually competition time. And, you’ll be pleased to know, this week is no exception for our awesome McLaren Plus members. We want to hook you up with something signed and very stylish, so we’re giving away 10 Carlos and Lando caps scribbled on by the men themselves. Want a shot at winning? Of course you do! Just complete this simple form.
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