Intercity Istanbul Park (Turkish: İstanbul Park), also known as the Istanbul Racing Circuit or initially as the Istanbul Otodrom, is a motor sports race track in the Tuzla district of Istanbul, Turkey. It was designed by the well-known racetrack architect Hermann Tilke and was inaugurated on 21 August 2005. It has been called "the best race track in the world" by former Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone, who held the managing rights of the circuit between 2007 and 2011. The circuit is currently managed by the Turkish company Intercity.
The venue of the Turkish Grand Prix is located in crossing of boundaries of Pendik and Tuzla districts on the Asian side of Istanbul, close to the junction of Kurtköy on the north side of the O-4 motorway, linking Istanbul to Ankara. It is near Sabiha Gökçen International Airport and is surrounded by forests and fields.
The Istanbul Park racing circuit was one of only five circuits running anticlockwise in the 2011 Formula One season, the others being Autódromo José Carlos Pace (used for the Brazilian Grand Prix), the Marina Bay Street Circuit (used for the Singapore Grand Prix), the Korea International Circuit (used for the Korean Grand Prix) and the Yas Marina Circuit (used for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix). This unusual anti-clockwise layout leads to increased strain on the other side of the driver's neck than they would experience at most other circuits, especially through the long high-speed left-hander at turn 8.
The circuit is 5.338 km (3.317 mi) long, with an average width of 15 m (49 ft) ranging from 14 to 21.5 m (46 to 71 ft), and covers over 2.215 million square metres (547 acres). With a total of 14 corners, the sharpest with a radius of merely 15 m (49 ft), the circuit runs over four different ground levels with a start/finish straight over 650 m (2,133 ft) in length. The total race distance of the Turkish Grand Prix is 309.356 km (192.225 mi) over 58 laps.
The track has capacity for approximately 125,000 spectators. The main grandstand has a seating capacity of 25,000 spectators, with natural ground stands and temporary stands allowing for around 100,000 more people. The paddock buildings are two-level structures; the ground floor reserved for racing teams, the upper floor serving as hospitality areas, with an additional viewing capacity of 5,000 seats. At each end of the paddock, there are two 7-story VIP towers.
Turn 8 (nicknamed "Diabolica" by some in reference to Monza's Curva Parabolica) particularly caught the imagination. The corner is a fast, sweeping corner with four apexes, similar to one of the multi-apex sections of the old Nürburgring. Spectators and drivers alike raved about Turn 8, comparing it to legendary corners such as Eau Rouge and 130R. The corner eventually became the basis of turns 17 and 18 at the Circuit of the Americas. The high loads exerted through this corner contribute to the circuit's reputation for rapid tyre wear.
Another notable corner is Turn 1, a sharp downhill left-hander immediately after the front straight. This corner has been nicknamed by some as the "Turkish Corkscrew" in reference to the famous Corkscrew at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Both the 2006 F1 and MotoGP races at the circuit featured multiple incidents at this corner. A third noteworthy area is the uphill kink in the middle of the back straight; due to its similarity to Eau Rouge, it has been jokingly referred to as "Faux Rouge".
The circuit is not, however, without its critics. After qualifying, Jenson Button claimed that the track was getting bumpier as the weekend went on, particularly at Turn 8, which was what caused so many drivers to spin off. This harks back to another circuit designed by Hermann Tilke, Shanghai International Circuit, which is said to be sinking in places because it was built on the site of a former swamp. Jarno Trulli was notable for his lukewarm feeling towards the circuit, saying that he felt the circuit was easy to learn, and that good performance was down more to the car than the driver.
Major motorsport events
The first Grand Prix of Turkey took place in 2005. Due to financial disagreement, the last Turkish Grand Prix took place in 2011, despite earlier reports that the event would take place until at least 2021. The top speed measured of an F1 car measured by the speed trap was 329.5 km/h (204.8 mph) in 2005. F1 cars equipped with the smaller 2.4-litre V8 engines (instead of the 3.0-litre V10s of previous years) reached 320 km/h (200 mph) in 2006.
Felipe Massa has an affinity with this circuit, with the Brazilian winning three of the seven Grands Prix held at Istanbul Park with Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen having won one race a piece.
In 2006, the winner of the GP2 race was Nelson Piquet, Jr., however the real battle was with Lewis Hamilton who, at the beginning of the race, spun off and dropped right down the field from 2nd to 16th. However he raced his way back through the pack with some spectacular overtaking moves to finish in second.
Fifteen racers completed the race in 2009 while eleven drivers were not classified. The winner was Russian Vitaly Petrov of Barwa Addax, who moved up to second place in the championship table with 29 points ahead of Jérôme d'Ambrosio having 18 points. Petrov's teammate Romain Grosjean, who retired from the race, leading the championship with 31 points. The Italians Luca Filippi of Super Nova Racing and Davide Valsecchi of Durango finished second and third.
From 2005 to 2007, Istanbul Park hosted the FIA World Touring Car Championship (2005 and 2006), Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (2005), Le Mans Series (2005 and 2006), as well as the International GT Open, Formula-G and the World Series by Renault
The first leg of the 2012 FIA European Truck Racing Championship was held on 13 May 2012 at Istanbul Park. The Superbike World Championship raced at the track in 2013. The FIA World Rallycross Championship has organized the World RX of Turkey at Istanbul Park since 2014, using an area to the outside of turns 12, 13, 14.
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