Round 16 of the 2021 Formula One World Championship this weekend sees a special Turkish Grand Prix back on the calendar for the second year in a row. This year, the race fills in for the Singapore Grand Prix which was scrapped due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The Turkish race used to be a permanent fixture on the F1 calendar between the first race in 2005 and the last of the regular races in 2011. It's always been held at Istanbul Park Circuit, a Hermann Tilke-designed circuit that stretches 3.31 miles and runs anti-clockwise.
It features 14 corners, some of them among the most interesting on the calendar. They include the first turn, a steep downhill left-hander immediately after the start-finish straight. It’s been nicknamed the Turkish Corkscrew, because of its similarity to the famous turn at Laguna Seca. The best known corner however is Turn 8, which has been described as one of the great corners in F1. It’s very long, accounting for 12% of the entire lap, and is taken at high speed, with several apexes that place forces peaking at more than 5 g on the cars and tires.
Istanbul Park Circuit, home of the Formula One Turkish Grand Prix
As a result, teams tend to run a harder combination of tires. Pirelli has nominated its P Zero White hard (C2), P Zero Yellow medium (C3), and P Zero Red soft (C4). This is a slightly softer combination than last year. The most popular strategy last year was a single stop. Teams will need to be wary of the weather, too, as light rain is forecast for both Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday's race.
Going into the weekend, Mercedes-Benz AMG's Lewis Hamilton leads the 2021 Drivers' Championship with 246.5 points, versus the 244.5 of Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen and 151 of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 397.5 points, versus the 364.5 of Red Bull and 234 of McLaren. Last year's winner in Turkey was Hamilton driving for Mercedes. It is where he was crowned with his record-equalling seventh world championship.
In other F1 news, Red Bull has announced plans to establish the new division Red Bull Powertrains to oversee the development and production of the current Honda power unit used by Red Bull and feeder team AlphaTauri after the 2021 season. Honda officially quits F1 at the end of the current season but will assist building the power unit with Red Bull Powertrains through 2022, after which Red Bull Powertrains will take over full responsibility until a next-generation power unit is introduced around 2026.