McLaren package not ideal for Istanbul Park
Due to a bad position on the grid for Lewis Hamilton and a shunt during the race for Heikki Kovalainen, the McLaren Mercedes team left the Monaco Grand Prix without garnering any points in the Principality.
The Formula One
circus now moves on towards next weekend's Turkish Grand Prix at the much-praised Istanbul Park circuit, a proper race track with characteristics much different from those found at Monaco's classic urban venue.
Although the MP4-24 did not fare badly in terms of performance in Monte Carlo, the car's abilities might be put to the test in Istanbul, team management reveals.
Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh already knows next weekend will be a tough one, with much work on the table for everyone involved: "The Istanbul Park circuit is one of the most challenging modern circuits – for both teams and drivers."
"Firstly, it's a real set-up challenge," Whitmarsh explains. "You need to find a handling balance between the high-speed corners, the slower, infield section and the long straights."
"In addition, tyre wear – particularly to the heavily loaded front-right through Turn Eight – is a crucial factor in determining overall strategy. For the drivers, a combination of multi-apex and blind corners adds to the challenge.
Six races into the season, neither McLaren driver has stood on the podium, and the characteristics of the Istanbul Park circuit are not exactly speaking the language that the MP4-24 likes to hear.
However, if the team is not truly expecting a great leap forward, each race brings knowledge and therefore brings it closer to the front.
"We go to Turkey in the knowledge that the track characteristics are a bit less likely to suit our package than Monaco," Whitmarsh admits. "But we are improving all the time, have several minor upgrades for MP4-24 and look forward to assessing our competitiveness against our rivals."
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug shares the same opinion: "KERS should again be a good support to improve our lap times, but nevertheless the Turkish Grand Prix will be a demanding challenge for us."