Formula one chases circuit mix
Formula one’s debut visit to Turkey last weekend left those involved in the grand prix circus seeking a mix of new tracks and classic circuits on the calendars of the future.
The recently created Istanbul Park circuit proved popular with drivers as well as teams, with many hailing it as the perfect mix of top racing track design and high-tech facilities.
But McLaren boss Ron Dennis insisted that does not mean the end for classic tracks like Spa-Francorchamps, which hosts the Beligan Grand Prix in three weeks time, but rather an overall improvement in the championship itself.
“This is a fantastic racing circuit and it is a sort of new Spa,” said Dennis.
“If we are going to have a new circuit we certainly don’t want to duplicate those things that are wrong with other Grands Prix.
“Spa is a great circuit but it hasn’t got hotels, it hasn’t got a city, it hasn’t got a big airport, it hasn’t got all these things, but that doesn’t mean to say it is not a great circuit.
“A new circuit should not bring forward the problems with the old circuits. What they have supplemented that circuit with here are facilities that allow us quite a bit of space.
“After that we just require good electrical feed, good IT connections and water. We are self-sufficient, we come just like a circus, there is nothing we need other than the primary items.
“We are also close to the city and although we have had varying travel times to get there, there are the up side of being in a city like a whole range of hotels and things that supplement the event for the sponsors.”
The circuit, with its expansive paddock, garages and media facilities, is typical of all the new circuits but it is the undulating track that has made its mark this weekend.
Many of the drivers were caught out by the four-apex turn eight, one of the most unique corners on the Grand Prix calendar, while other sections were marked out as special turns worthy of some of the top tracks in the world.
It has drawn praise from virtually all who attended the event with commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone promising it has a long future as Formula One expands into new areas.
Renault boss Flavio Briatore enjoyed his visit despite seeing his championship challenging driver Fernando Alonso beaten by Finnish rival Kimi Raikkonen in the race itself.
And he said: “I really need to congratulate Turkey, the media, the spectators, and all the people in Istanbul because it is incredible.
I like it, they have done an incredible job in a short time and it is good efficiency.”
Istanbul is the third new venue in two years and follows the debuts of the Sakhir International circuit, in Bahrain, and the Shanghai International circuit, in China, which both joined the calendar in 2004.
But while the previous new additions are relatively flat and, some say, uninspiring circuits with stunning facilities, the Istanbul Park has already been hailed as one of the most exciting and difficult tracks on the calendar.
“I think everyone knows that some of the new circuits are not particularly challenging, but this shows it can be done,” said Dennis.
“All the drivers have eulogised about the circuit.
“There are couple of corners that are really difficult that people have made mistakes on, and isn’t that great? Isn’t it great that it is a challenge, because that is what Grand Prix racing should be, a challenge.
“Is it a trend that new circuits are good circuits? I hope it is.” - Sapa-AFP