Turkish GP - McLaren Mercedes - Preview
The Monaco Grand Prix delivered no points for the McLaren Mercedes team after both drivers made contact with the barriers over the course of the weekend.
During qualifying reigning champion Lewis Hamilton slammed his MP4-24
and ended up taking the start from the back of the grid, fighting his way as much as he could through the narrow Monte Carlo avenues. The Briton reached 12th position at the finish, running on rapidly degrading tyres following a determined run.
Aboard the other McLaren Mercedes racer, Heikki Kovalainen had a strong hold on seventh position when the rear of his car slipped off after hitting a kerb. The Finn tried to regain control but there was simply not enough space; the guardrails put an end to his race in the Principality.
Having put the Monaco results behind them, the team are now looking ahead to next weekend's Turkish Grand Prix, where the modern Istanbul Park track awaits.
The circuit offers high-speed corners that tend to wear out the tyres quickly - especially the infamous Turn Eight - so drivers will have to manage their compounds carefully. In addition, the ambient heat surrounding Istanbul at this time of the year means the temperatures will also be building up within the cockpit as well.
None of the above diminishes Lewis Hamilton's anticipation in taking on the Turkish Grand Prix:
"I love racing in Turkey," he declares. "It's a real challenge because you need to attack the lap to get a good time, but you also need to be careful with your tyres – if you push too much, particularly through Turn Eight, then your tyres are going to suffer. It's all about finding the perfect balance in practice and being disciplined in the race so you don't overdo it.
"I also love the fact that it's a new circuit that has really captured the flavour of some of the older, classic tracks – it's got a bit of everything and is fantastic to drive," Hamilton continues. "Also, as it's anti-clockwise, it gives your neck a bit of a workout – but you just need to make sure you've exercised the left side of your neck a little more than usual before getting in the car."
Kovalainen agrees with Hamilton that one portion of the track is particularly attractive, yet very demanding: "Turkey is all about Turn Eight – the high-speed, four-apex left-hander."
"On a good day in qualifying, it's flat-out – and that's a pretty good feeling when you get it right. It's also very important to look after your tyres through Turn Eight – you put a lot of load through the tyres, particularly the fronts, so it's a good idea to look after them during the race," he explains.
McLaren is the only team to have used its Kinetic Energy Recovery System at every race so far, and that trend will continue in Turkey. In fact, Kovalainen is counting on it to gain positions.
"The best place to overtake here is into Turn 12, the corner at the end of the back straight. You can get a good tow and slipstream past – with KERS we should hopefully see some exciting racing," he anticipates.