If you thought last month's Hungarian Grand Prix was hot, you're in for a big surprise. A trip to Turkey in the middle of August should warm the cockles - and it could even set new standards for heat at a Formula One race. The purpose-built Istanbul Otodrom is the only addition to the F1 calendar in 2005. The circuit appears from simulations to be a fairly typical modern grand prix track but it features more ups and downs than usual because of its hilly location. Panasonic Toyota Racing heads to Turkey fresh from its 11-point haul in Hungary looking to keep 4th place in the constructors' championship as the season enters its home stretch. Members of the F1 fraternity will certainly know they're back from their August mini-break as they step out of their planes into the blazing heat of the Turkish summer.
NOT VERY COLD TURKEY
Jarno Trulli is used to visiting new circuits, but he is under no illusions about what he can expect from his first visit to Istanbul.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16): "When you go to a new circuit it doesn't really have a major effect on the weekend. You just make sure you walk around the track on Thursday, then you spend the first session on Friday learning the circuit. By the second session it's back to normal and the rest of the weekend is the same as usual. Before we get there we have pretty much no idea about what the circuit will be like for driving. The back straight looks long so we might have a chance of overtaking at the end of that. The only other thing that stands out is that it is an anti-clockwise circuit. That means you might feel it in your neck because the pressures are the other way round from usual. There are some hills but when it comes to blind corners you just pick your braking point on Friday morning and get used to it. Apart from that you just go there and see what happens. I've never been to Turkey, so I'm looking forward to seeing the country. The one thing I do know is that it will be hot.!
NEW WORK NEW WORK
Ralf Schumacher has sampled the delights of Turkey before, but like the rest of the field he will know little about the circuit until Friday morning.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17): "I made a trip to Istanbul earlier this year, so I've already had a chance to see a bit of Turkey. The city was nice, we were very well received and I hope to have more time to see it when I come there this time. But I did not get a chance to visit the Istanbul Otodrom. When you go to a new track you usually spend the first session getting used to it. In this case it's a brand new circuit for everyone, so it's not too much of a problem. Everyone is affected in a similar way. I haven't seen any simulations yet, and the circuit maps are just lines on a page. The fact that this circuit has hills makes things more interesting than usual. The blind corners aren't a big problem but it won't be easy to brake downhill and sometimes you tend to lock up wheels on those kind of circuits. So I will take the scooter round on Thursday just to see which corner comes after which corner. Then you take the car on Friday and do the best you can."
A SIMULATING EXPERIENCE
A new circuit presents different challenges not only to the two drivers, but to all the engineers who have to make do without their usual banks of data from previous races.
Dieter Gass - Chief Race Engineer: "Before we go to a new track, all the teams receive a computer file with information on the circuit. Then you run some simulations using specialist software. First you determine the likely level of downforce and you establish your gear ratios. Then you have to look more at the detail about what you have to do to the suspension settings and you try to characterise the circuit based on the experience that you have. From there you basically decide which set-up you will start with for the first practice session. On the first visit to a new circuit you can see some differences between the way teams run on Friday morning. For example in China last year we made the right conclusions and that made a difference. To us, Istanbul looks like a fairly typical medium downforce circuit, like many others on the calendar. But you need to verify that the simulations you've done are correct when the cars start running. Of course, this is a completely new track so the surface will have no grip at the beginning and it will be difficult to draw conclusions on the first day. But you still have to make the tyre choice in the evening, as always. At a new circuit you need to be very quick with your reactions. Everything becomes more challenging, but that makes things interesting."