ISTANBUL TURKEY


NUMBER OF LAPS 58
CIRCUIT LENGTH 5.338 KM
RACE DISTANCE 309,396 KM


Work began on the circuit in Akfirat, around an hour's drive east of Istanbul, in 2003, with the Hermann Tilke-designed track readied in August 2005, having had $40 million lavished on it.

No sooner had the track opened than it was hosting the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix on August 21, a drama-filled race won by McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, with Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher famously coming together when Webber tried to unlap himself.

There's no doubt that Istanbul is one of the best tracks ever penned by Tilke, with parts of the circuit having been compared over the years to similar features at Spa-Francorchamps, Interlagos and Laguna Seca. The crown jewel of Intercity Istanbul Park, however, remains Turn 8, an incredibly fast, bumpy, multi-apex downhill left-hander that's a proper test of drivers' commitment.

The track's proximity to Istanbul gives you a perfect chance to explore this fascinating city - while for the more suntan-focused Formula 1 fans, you're just a short internal flight away from some of the country's supreme beaches in the south of the country, or the Black Sea resorts in the east.

It has to be the grandstand on the outside of Turn 8. You won't see much overtaking - or it will be awesome overtaking if you do - but to see the cars running flat-chat through here will be very special indeed. Failing that, the grandstand at the entry to Turn 12 is a good bet for overtakes and skirmishes. After all, if you'd parked yourself here in 2010, you'd have witnessed the infamous crash between Red Bull team mates Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.