November 14th, 2020

Robert's guide to the Istanbul Park

The Istanbul Park track returns to the calendar in 2020 after nearly a decade; the circuit will be a new discovery for many of the younger drivers on the grid, but someone who has been racing there a few times is our reserve driver, Robert Kubica. He gives us a quick run-through of this challenging layout.

“I raced in Istanbul five times from 2006 to 2010, and I’m told I was in the points four times, including a fourth place in 2008. It feels quite a long time ago!

“Istanbul is a really interesting track and I always enjoyed driving there. In fact, in September I watched an onboard of one of my laps there and it reminded me that it was a quite exciting track. Normally it doesn’t happen that often that you go to a modern F1 track and you really say, ‘Wow, this is nice.’

“Istanbul is that kind of track, probably because of the many elevation changes. There are also some blind corners, some blind apexes, and that helps to makes it interesting. The most famous corner is Turn 8, which will be easy flat with the current cars, and probably over 5G for nearly five seconds. It will also be quite challenging from the physical aspect.

“The last sector, or the last three corners, are quite special – and not always in a good way! It’s really those last three corners where you can lose a lot of lap time, especially in qualifying.

“When you know you’re doing a good lap it’s those corners where it’s so easy to lose a couple of tenths, as the corners are very low speed, with big braking into the lefthander, Turn 12.

“The first part of the track, in particular, is really nice, with the elevation changes and then the blind corners. There a couple of corners where the front inside wheel is actually unloaded, because there is such a big drop in the track surface.

“It is a track where things are happening relatively quickly, and you have a nice flow, at least until the last three corners. This is probably one of the most interesting tracks built in the modern era of F1, and I would say it felt really nice to drive the V8 cars in my first Sauber days.

“For sure it will be much faster with the current cars, and I hope for the drivers that it will be also as good, or even better, than it was 10 years ago.

“However, the races are a bit different now. I remember the Turkish GP was always quite physical, and in the era with the pitstops you were having to do qualifying laps all the time, with the track inviting you to push really a lot. It was something special.

“Now the approach is a bit different, and drivers have to put quite a lot of priority and attention onto the tyres, so the race will be a bit more conservative. However, I think in qualifying it will still be a very nice track to drive.”