Guest Author - Christine Blachford
Last year, the Turkish Grand Prix was the 12th round of the championship, and therefore took place in the warmer summer months. This year, much earlier, the weather was cool and there were a few showers to add a little bit of interest to proceedings.
During the Friday and Saturday practice sessions, the track alternated between wet and dry, meaning we couldn’t get an accurate reading of how good the teams were relative to each other, and presumably, they couldn’t get a great deal of data.
Qualifying on Saturday was the first session to be completely dry. The rules had been tweaked slightly, to allow for the fact that Super Aguri are no longer in the sport. Instead of six drivers being knocked out in the first two sessions, it was now only five, leaving the ten drivers to fight it out for pole position. Massa took an easy pole position, with Ferrari team mate Raikkonen on a heavier fuel load and back in fourth. Kovalainen made best use of his McLaren and lined up on the front row next to Massa. Lewis Hamilton made his final qualifying run on the hard tyres – traditionally the slower of the two tyre choices – but still managed to finish up third.
Kovalainen had a slow start to the race, losing several places, whilst Hamilton made up a few. At the back, Fisichella smashed into the back of Nakajima, knocking them both out of the race. The safety car was called out for one lap whilst the cars were cleared, but both Vettel and Kovalainen picked up punctures as a result of the debris from the crash. Kovalainen emerged from his unscheduled pit stop absolutely last.
At the front, Hamilton made an early pit stop, a very short one, and it turns out that McLaren were trying out the not-often-used strategy of three stopping. Hamilton got past Massa and flew off into the distance, but Massa kept a cool head, and when the race played out and all the pit stops had been completed, he was still in the lead. Hamilton finished second, with Raikkonen in third.
The best part of the race though was Kovalainen making his way through the field. He was overtaking cars at many different points throughout the circuit, and towards the end of the race he had made his way up to a points scoring position. However, he had to pit once more with just 8 laps of the race remaining, which ruled him out of the scoring zone.
One of the best races for a long time, with mixed strategies and plenty of overtaking. Unfortunately the next round is in Monaco which is famous for being a procession, so we will have to savour this race for a few more weeks yet.