ROUND FIVE Round five of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the HondaRacing F1 Team to Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix.
The 58-lap race takesplace at the 5.338km (3.317mile) Istanbul Park circuit, which is one of onlytwo anti-clockwise tracks on this year's calendar. Istanbul Park is located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, the transversechannel that links the Mediterranean with the Black Sea, about 90 kilometres(56 miles) from the centre of Istanbul.
The undulating topography upon whichthe track was built in 2005 has helped to create one of the most technicallychallenging racetracks in the world, and also one of the most physical forthe drivers. A unique feature of the Turkish Grand Prix is the means by which the HondaRacing F1 Team's transporters travel to and from the race.
Along with therest of the teams' freight, they were shipped by sea from Trieste in Italyon Wednesday and are due to arrive at the port of Istanbul over the weekend.
ISTANBUL PARK - THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE
The anti-clockwise direction of Istanbul Park, with its eight left-handedcorners, has no direct bearing on car set-up. However, as with any racetrackthere are several key moments on the lap, the most significant of which isTurn 8. The cars and drivers pull up to 5G for seven seconds through thistriple-apex left-hander, making it one of the most physical corners in theworld for the drivers.
The minimum speed through here is 250kph (155mph),but that's not the reason why it's a key corner from a technical point ofview. A mid-corner bump, when the car is fully loaded, forces the engineersnot to set the ride height too low and that punishes the car's handlingthrough other corners.
A pre-requisite for a competitive lap time at Istanbul Park is good carbalance because there are a number of 180-degree corners that reward goodhandling.
Then there's the slow left-right-left sequence at the end of thelap that leads the cars back onto the pit straight. The braking point intothis section sees the cars slow from 300kph (186mph) down to 80kph (50mph),which makes it the best overtaking point on the lap. Full throttle: 62% Brake wear: MediumDownforce level: Medium - 6/10 Tyre compounds: Medium / Hard Tyre usage: Medium Average speed:220kph (137mph)
HONDA TEAM TALK Ross Brawn, Team Principal
Q. How do you expect the Honda Racing F1 Team to perform at the TurkishGrand Prix?
"Istanbul Park is a great race track which our drivers really enjoy.Although there is no opportunity to test before this race, we will have somesmall refinements to the car and aero package to suit the characteristics ofthis particular circuit. I am expecting the RA108 to perform slightly betteraround Istanbul Park than in Barcelona, where we suffered with ride qualityover the bumpy surface, so I believe we can look forward to challenging forthe top ten in qualifying and hopefully scoring points again."
Q. How important to the team was Jenson's sixth place in Barcelona?
"We were extremely pleased to pick up our first points of the season inBarcelona and it was just reward for the efforts that everyone has put inover the last few months. We took many positives from the race weekend,including the good performance of the new aero package and our strategyworking well, with the execution of the pit stops being especially good. Ofcourse, there are challenges to be overcome, however I am confident we havethe right attitude and commitment to resolve these. There is tremendouspotential in this team and our three points in Barcelona was the first stepat the start of a very intense few months of racing."
Q. What are your thoughts on the Istanbul Park circuit?
"The Turkish Grand Prix is one of my favourite races on the calendar andI've had a couple of good results here in 2005 and 2006, finishing in thetop five on both occasions. The track layout is excellent with the changesin elevation making it a tough but enjoyable circuit for the drivers. Thereare some really good overtaking opportunities at turn one and turn three,with a chance of passing into turns nine and twelve if you get it right."
Q. Knowing the strengths of the RA108, do you expect the car to becompetitive at the Turkish Grand Prix?
"The Spanish Grand Prix was our first major upgrade to the RA108 and the newaero package definitely gave us a performance improvement over the weekend.It's good to know that we are improving the car step-by-step and I was ableto develop a good understanding of the new developments.The car that we take to Turkey will be essentially the same package,therefore our focus will be getting onto Q3 and qualifying in the top ten.Turkey is a circuit that I have always been competitive at, and really enjoydriving, so I am hopeful that we will have a good race."
Q. How physical is Istanbul Park for the drivers?
"The Istanbul Park track is fairly challenging from a drivers' point of viewas it runs anti-clockwise which is unusual and the undulations are quiteextreme which can make for an exciting lap. I have been impressed with thecircuit since we started racing here in 2005. The lap itself has a niceflow, and most importantly, it's a good racing track with overtakingopportunities, which have led to some exciting races. The highlight for mostdrivers is the high-speed turn eight where the triple apex is really quick,blind and tough on your neck. "
Q. You reach 257 Grand Prix appearances this weekend. What does this mean toyou?
"Becoming the most experienced Formula One driver ever means a great deal tome. I've had a long career in Formula One and I have so many wonderfulmemories, but I don't feel any different today to the day when I started outon this journey in 1993. My first race, at Kyalami, seems like yesterday. Imust thank my family and friends for their unwavering support through theyears. I was lucky enough to start my career in F1 at a young age and I loveracing as much as ever and, importantly, I still love Formula One. Whilstpeople will look back at my 16-year career in Turkey, I'm still lookingforward and the next race is the one that matters the most."