History of the Turkish Grand Prix

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The Formula 1 season is gearing up to be one of the most thrilling of recent years.

Can Lewis Hamilton, the reigning champion, take a record-breaking eighth driver’s championship? Or will the young upstart, Max Verstappen, oversee a forceful passing of the baton from old to young? The pair are vying for success in the manner of Senna and Prost, Schumacher and Hill, battling first and second most weeks looking to create an edge.

The most recent victor was Hamilton, winning the Russian Grand Prix after a late spinout by Lando Norris. CNN explain how that was the 100th win of the Brit’s career, a new Formula 1 record. Another record waits if he takes his eighth driver’s championship; he’ll move ahead of the legendary Michael Schumacher. However, despite leading the table at present, Bwin Sports holds his rival Verstappen slightly ahead, which means a frantic and exciting finish to the season. Can Max carry on the Formula 1 fire held by his father Jos, who had two podium finishes in his modest career? Or will Hamilton seize the initiative, as he has so many times before, cementing a place in history?

The next installment is due to take place in Turkey on October 10, and if you don’t know much about the circuit, we’ve got you covered.

What is the Turkish Grand Prix

Credit: Homonihilis, Istanbul park front straight and main grandstand, CC BY 3.0

The Turkish Grand Prix is a car race held at Intercity Istanbul Park as part of the Formula 1 calendar. It is a 5.338km circuit of 58 laps and has been held eight times. The current lap record is held by Juan Pablo Montoya, who recorded a time of 1:24.770 in 2005.

Origin of the Turkish Grand Prix

Credit: Postmortem, GPTurkey05 start, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

The race entered the calendar in 2005, a contest characterized by cars spinning off. Montoya ran off with two laps to go, allowing Fernando Alonso to take second place behind the eventual winner, Kimi Räikkönen. In 2006, the race garnered controversy after the winner’s trophy was presented by Mehmet Ali Talat. He was introduced to television viewers via a caption that proclaimed him as the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a state-recognized only by Turkey. A fine of $2.5m was eventually levied against Turkey. In 2011, the race featured the greatest recorded number of pit stops and overtaking maneuvers in a dry race in F1 history, making it a firm fan favorite. Sadly, financial wrangling meant Turkey was stripped of the competition in 2012, and it only made a return in 2020, under pandemic restrictions. The 2021 race also suffered controversy; it was originally brought in to replace the Canadian Grand Prix, then canceled due to travel restrictions, then reinstated in place of the Singapore event.

Great Champions

Credit: Eric W from Hougton, MI, Felipe Massa 2007 USA 2, CC BY 2.0

Felipe Massa has the best record in Turkey, winning three consecutive races between 2006 and 2008. Lewis Hamilton has won two, in 2010 and 2020, with another Brit, Jensen Button, making it three titles for Mercedes in 2009. The other two winners are Räikkönen in the debut season and Germany’s Sebastian Vettel in the last race of the first era, 2011.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our look at the world’s most famous Grand Prix circuit, the winding streets of Monaco.

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