• Turkish Grand Prix

Tyres key to Turkey - McLaren drivers

ESPNF1 Staff
April 28, 2011 « 'Small upgrades for Turkey' - Whitmarsh | »
Tyre wear will play a big role in deciding the Turkish Grand Prix, according to McLaren's drivers © Sutton Images
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McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton expect tyre degradation to play a key role at next weekend's Turkish Grand Prix on the high-speed Istanbul Park circuit.

The Pirelli tyres have been dictating race strategy so far this year with Hamilton using a three-stop strategy in China to bring an end to Sebastian Vettel's early season dominance. High degradation levels mean that drivers who stay out too long on the same set of tyres experience a major drop-off in performance, which has the potential to be the difference between winning and finishing off the podium.

Turn eight at Istanbul puts heavy loading on the tyres and Button reckons it will force teams and drivers to take a conservative approach to race strategy.

"After the race in China, I think there'll once again be a lot of focus on tyre durability and drop-off next weekend," Button said. "Looking at the track configuration, our simulations suggest that Turkey will be a critical test for the tyres - particularly the front-right, which will be placed under considerable load through turn eight.

"It's a high-speed, multi-apex turn with a lot of loading, so I think we'll spend part of Friday monitoring the loads through the tyres to make sure we can achieve a safe and achievable balance for the race before we head into qualifying on Saturday.

"I don't think it's an under-estimation to say that tyre wear will probably determine every team's race strategy. It will be important to run the tyre within a safe operating window, and that's likely to determine when and how often we stop during the grand prix.

"The weather also looks like it's going to be a bit colder than we're used to in Turkey - the race is three weeks earlier in the season than it was last year, and that might also have an effect on how the tyre operates. It's going to be another interesting race."

Hamilton agrees that the stresses on the tyres in turn eight will play a major role in strategy, but also believes KERS will be a performance differentiator - something that McLaren's main rival Red Bull has struggled with in the opening rounds.

"For this race, I think we'll be seeing drivers working quite hard to look after their tyres throughout the race, particularly in turn eight, which is fast and bumpy; it's one of the most demanding corners for tyres anywhere on the calendar.

"This is also a circuit where KERS Hybrid will be a major benefit - most of the straights come after low-speed corners, so there's plenty of scope for using the KERS Hybrid - most notably out of Turn 10, but also out of the final corner.

"There's always quite a big chance for passing into Turn 12, because it's quite easy to stay with a leading car out of Turn 10 and duck into the tow.

"There's every reason to believe that the run of interesting and exciting races will continue next weekend."

Hamilton was victorious at last year's Turkish Grand Prix after the Red Bulls crashed in to one another while battling over first position.

"I won this race last year and Istanbul Park is a circuit I really enjoy," he added. "It's a great modern track, with a real variety of corners, plenty of high-speed stuff and a place where you really feel the benefit of having the car properly hooked up beneath you.

"Of course, everyone talks about turn eight, which is a fantastic corner, but I also love late-braking into Turns Nine and 12, because you can get the car into the corner while still carrying quite a bit of speed; and getting it right is really satisfying."

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