The Formula One race teams have enjoyed a brief summer break since the Hungarian Grand Prix at the start of August. But it's now time to get back to work as this weekend Turkey hosts the 14th round of the 2006 world championship. The purpose-built Istanbul Park is the most recent addition to the F1 calendar, returning fresh from its arrival on the scene last year. Many drivers were impressed with the track, which features many ups and downs due to its hilly location near the city of Istanbul. Panasonic Toyota Racing heads to Turkey looking to add to its improving performances of recent races as the team bids to make up ground in the constructors' championship.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 7): "The Istanbul Park is an exciting, challenging circuit and something completely different to what we have seen with many modern tracks. There is a good mix of corners and the hills are unusual on today's calendar. The track surface is very smooth, there are big run-off areas and the facilities are good too. We should go to Turkey looking to come away with a good finish. We've continued to improve our performance as the season has gone on and apart from the problems we suffered in Hungary we have been fast at the last few races. We haven't brought home as many good results as we would have liked but the trend is clearly on its way up. The team has turned our situation around and it's a very good job that they have done. Now we have to build on that and come away with more points over the last few races."
Jarno Trulli (Car 8): "Toyota has made big steps forward in recent races and Bridgestone have also done a good job with the tyres. We could have achieved more in terms of results so we need to keep pushing for reliability. But our pace has improved thanks to the hard work of our technical team so I'm confident that we do well in Turkey. Lots of drivers were really impressed with the Istanbul Park circuit but it's not among my personal favourites. It is not the most difficult track we race on and it has only one really hard corner. That is a long left-hander which combines three corners together and is taken nearly flat in fourth or fifth gear. It is a quick and very challenging set of corners. The rest of the lap is relatively simple – although it runs anti-clockwise so the pressures on the neck are the opposite from usual. With all the progress we have made and another step due for Turkey we should aim to bring home another strong result on Sunday."
Pascal Vasselon – Senior General Manager Chassis: "Most of the people in Formula 1 were really impressed by how smoothly the organisation went for Turkey's first grand prix last year. We expected to have logistical challenges but the event was a positive surprise for most. The surrounding area is beautiful and now that we have seen the traffic we have made sure we will stay on the Asian side of the Bosphorus river this year! The track is an average downforce circuit featuring a good variety of corners but what makes it very special is the triple left-hander at turn 8. Most of the simulations done by the teams before last year's event underestimated how quick it would be. You can reach speeds of 250kmh and it is very tough both for the driver and the tyres. The tyres have to be hard enough to cope with that corner but you still have to compromise for the generally low grip of the asphalt. Brand new tracks do evolve a lot so we will have to see how much the asphalt has changed since last year. Toyota heads to Turkey with an interesting aerodynamic development around the front wing so we will hope to benefit from that as we seek a strong result in the race."