Guest Author - Christine Blachford
Most modern Formula 1 tracks are built, or updated, by Tilke Engineering, but more specifically Hermann Tilke. His trademarks are easy to spot on most circuits Ė long straights and tight corners, especially the initial turn in, designed to increase first lap overtaking.
The older tracks that are merely maintained by Tilke Engineering have their own individual unique moments, corners that fans grow to love. Some of the newer built tracks have an air of similarity, the only differences being the surroundings the tarmac is poured into.
Not so for Turkey. The Istanbul Park Circuit boasts one of the most impressive corners of the current calendar, and that is a pretty big deal for a track thatís only three years old.
Turn 8. If you had the chance to say Turkey to any Formula 1 driver, Turn 8 would be the first thing that springs to mind. It may not look much from the outside, but it is a seriously complex corner.
Firstly, it is long, it take about 7 seconds to get all the way round it. Thatís a long time to be concentrating and turning the steering wheel and getting things perfect. Also it creates high G forces, about 5G which really takes it out of the drivers.
Secondly, it is fast. Speeds are rarely lower than 160mph, and thereís no braking. Itís a tough decision for a driver whether to lift off the accelerator, if only for a brief moment. You donít want to hit the corner to fast, but at the same time, you donít want to lose momentum altogether.
Thirdly, it has four apexes. The apex is the most crucial part of the corner, where the turn in stops and the acceleration out begins. Getting the first apex right is important to be able to hit the second and so on, round the full four of the corner.
The track is also pretty bumpy, specifically in the last half of the turn. When the track is bumpy, it causes additional problems for drivers, because the cars can hit the track and become unstable. If they manage to keep control, theyíll undoubtedly have lost a lot of time.
Thankfully, the turn has plenty of run off areas. Safety is a paramount concern when constructing new tracks, and Hermann Tilke knows what to do and where to put safety features. Over the past couple of years, plenty of drivers have got the corner wrong, including Michael Schumacher who lost some time there in 2006.
It may still be a new circuit, but Turkey has already made an impact on the calendar, separating the best drivers from the very best.