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Turkish GP: Preview - Mercedes

NEWS STORY
06/10/2021

Toto Wolff: There's been a brilliant buzz in the team over the last week or so. Being back on the top step of the podium was an incredible feeling for all of us, and particularly after such a dramatic race weekend.

It was obviously made even more special by being Lewis' 100th race win in Formula One. In the moment, milestones like this are exceptional, but I think it will take time for us to all realise just how remarkable this period of time is, and how privileged we all are to be part of this journey with him.

The final moments of the last race in Russia proved that anything can happen in F1 and fortunes can change in the blink of an eye. This season is keeping all of us on our toes and that's something we're enjoying immensely, but it also means we have to be aggressive with our approach to the season, in order to maximise the points available.

That's our focus for Turkey and beyond. I know Lewis, Valtteri and the entire team are fired up for the battle that lies ahead, and we look set for another exciting race this weekend at Istanbul Park, where there are still many unknowns for us because of the track surface and weather conditions in 2020.

It's an exciting track layout and a good one for racing, so I think we'll be in for another spectacular twist in this brilliant F1 season.

Fact File

The run from pole position to the first braking zone at Istanbul Park is one of the shortest on the F1 calendar, measuring just 170 metres. The track we've just been to, the Sochi Autodrom, has the longest with an 891-metre stretch.

Drivers don't spend as much time at full throttle around Istanbul Park compared to many of the tracks on the 2021 F1 schedule, with just 59% of the lap time and 72% of the lap distance taken at full throttle.

The track's iconic, quadruple-apex Turn 8 corner isn't as challenging for the cars and drivers as it once was, when F1 raced in Turkey from 2005 to 2011. Due to the increased downforce levels of the cars. However, it remains the highest lateral g-force experienced by the drivers over the course of the lap, measuring 4.6g.

Because Istanbul Park isn't as frequently used as other F1 venues and with it being resurfaced ahead of last year's event, the track evolution is high - meaning, the track starts the weekend fresher (or 'greener') and develops more grip as more laps are completed and more rubber is laid down.

The new track surface, very cold temperatures and wet weather on Saturday and Sunday of last year's Turkish Grand Prix made conditions incredibly tricky for the drivers, lacking grip throughout the weekend. We saw the second-coldest temperatures of the season, after the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, with an average air temperature of 13°C and average track temperature of 15°C.

Sebastian Vettel still holds the lap record at the Turkish GP with his 1:25.049 from 2011. Last year, we predicted the modern cars would be around four seconds quicker in Qualifying trim, but because of the weather and conditions, the best lap times were in the late 1:40s. Even with dry running on Friday, the slippery new track surface meant the best lap was a 1:28.330 by Max Verstappen.

Istanbul Park is one of seven anti-clockwise track layouts on the 2021 F1 calendar, the others being: Imola, Interlagos, Baku, COTA, Jeddah and Yas Marina. These layouts increase the strain on the opposite side of the driver's neck, which isn't used to experiencing these forces due to there being more clockwise circuits.

Tyre degradation was traditionally quite high in Turkey, but due to the unusual conditions last year, it was difficult to get a reading on tyre degradation and wear. In any case, you can run the tyres down to very low rubber at Istanbul Park because of the smooth new tarmac.

In terms of car set-up, Turkey is what the engineers call 'middle of the pack', because most of its characteristics are pretty average, so not on either end of the spectrum in terms of downforce and power sensitivities.

However, with a fair few slow corners, traction zones and long straights, the one element it is a bit higher on is fuel consumption, so this will be a consideration over the weekend.

We expect the track surface to be higher grip this weekend. The surface has been treated, and it should have naturally aged, too. Plus, freshly laid bitumen (like last year) is greasy, and those oils should have dissipated now with normal weather aging of the surface.

Turkey is one of the better circuits in F1 for overtaking, because there are several big braking zones and corners leading onto longer straights which offer several different lines.

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