The Turkish Grand Prix will take place on June 7 2009 and is the seventh Grand Prix of the 2009 Formula One World Championship. The venue for this Formula One motor race, which debuted on August 25 2005, is Istanbul Park (Istanbul Parkı), also known as Istanbul Racing Circuit. Drivers and spectators alike praise this state-of-the art counter-clockwise racetrack. Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has even called it “the best race track in the world”. If you are a Formula 1 fan (and happen to be in Istanbul), this is an event you simply can’t afford to miss.
Istanbul Park Race Track Characteristics
The newly built Istanbul Park race circuit is located in Pendik on the Asian side of Istanbul. It was constructed by the famous German civil engineer Hermann Tilke, who had a hand in the Austrian A1-Ring changes, previously built the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia and the Bahrain International Circuit of Bahrain. The circuit is one of only three circuits on the Formula One Grand Prix calendar that runs counter-clockwise, the others being the Interlagos circuit and the Singapore Street Circuit.
The Istanbul Park racetrack follows the contours of the land, hence runs over four different ground levels. The circuit is 5.338 km long, with a start/finish straight of 650 m and a total of 16 corners. In particular Turn Eight (a fast, sweeping corner with four apexes) has been appraised by the drivers. Also notable is Turn One, a sharp downhill left-hander immediately after the front straight.
The Istanbul Park racetrack has a total capacity of 155.000 spectators, of which 25.000 can find a seat on the main grandstand.
Istanbul Park Driver Quotes
“It is an amazing track to drive, with so many different challenges, and overtaking is possible. The circuit is pretty wide, which always helps when you are trying to pass. It is a very physically demanding circuit, all the fast corners, such as Turn Eight which is awesome and flat out, and the heat place a big demand on the drivers.” ~ Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
“I am looking forward to Turkey, which will always have a special significance for me, as it was in Istanbul that I got my first ever Grand Prix victory. I love the track and the city. Istanbul Park is a really great track and everyone talks about Turn Eight, which is definitely one of the best corners of the season. I like this corner, and it is really challenging.” ~ Felipe Massa, Ferrari
“The track is great to drive, with some sections that are really on the limit and what you want to race on as a driver, Turn Eight in particular. We race anti-clockwise and this also adds a challenge. The final factor is that the track is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar, with long fast corners.” ~ Fernando Alonso, McLaren
“The Turkish Grand Prix has quickly become one of my favorite races on the F1 calendar. The track layout is excellent with a challenging combination of long straights, tight hairpins and the very high-speed Turn Eight. The changes in elevation also contribute to making it a fun circuit for the drivers. There are some really good overtaking opportunities at Turn One and Turn Three. You really need to consciously push hard all the way round and use the track’s camber to your full advantage.” ~ Jenson Button, Honda
Previous Winners of the Turkish Formula One Grand Prix
2009 – Jenson Button (Brawn GP)
2008 – Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
2007 – Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
2006 – Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
2005 – Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes)
Getting To Istanbul Park
Istanbul Park is located in Pendik on the Asian side of Istanbul, around 55 km east of the city centre (Taksim). It is adjacent to the newly constructed Sabiha Gökçen International Airport and is surrounded by forests and fields.
Although it is close to the junction of Kurtköy on the north side of the TEM Motorway, linking Istanbul to Ankara, I strongly advice neither to go by car nor to hire a car for the occasion. On normal days, traffic in Istanbul is already hectic and clogged, so you can imagine what it will look like on a race day.
The best alternative is to take a sea bus from Kabataş to Pendik, where you can hop on special shuttle busses. On race days, there are also municipal buses available various points in and around Istanbul, including Ataturk Airport, Taksim Square, Mecidiyeköy, Kadıköy, Bostancı and Pendik.
[Photo Credit: Will Pittenger]