A brilliant race in Turkey shows F1 is on the right track (Making F1 better)

The top three were covered by less than a second in Turkey

The top three were covered by less than a second in Turkey

The Turkish Grand Prix was a fantastic race – and it didn’t need a single drop of rain to liven things up.

F1 Fanatic readers rated the Turkish Grand Prix higher than any other dry race weekend since our “Rate the Race” polls began at the start of 2008.

After the criticisms of ‘boring F1′ following the Bahrain Grand Prix, what conclusions can we draw about the state of F1 fro the Turkish GP?

Why we saw a great race

Why did we see such a good race in Istanbul? Rob put forward one convincing explanation:

From my technically ignorant viewpoint, it seems that the McLaren and Red Bull cars? handling characteristics ?ǣ one faster in slow corners and in a straight line, the other faster in high-speed corners ?ǣ combined with a track which has a good variety of fast and slower sections, and the grid positions of the top four drivers all combined to keep them racing together.

Rob’s dead right. But there was one other element which conspired to keep the front runners close together.

The top three were covered by less than a second on some laps. And for that we have the refuelling ban to thank.

Last year Lewis Hamilton would have had a much easier job winning this race. McLaren would have fuelled him up for his middle stint, brought him in later for his final stop to leapfrog the Red Bulls and collected an easy victory.

The great strength of the refuelling ban is it forces drivers to to fight for their wins on the track.

And when F1 drivers spend lap after lap in close proximity with their rivals, you’re far more likely to get the kind of drama we saw on Sunday.

What F1 can learn from it

Just as it would have been foolish to rush into knee-jerk changes following the Bahrain Grand Prix, it would be wrong to conclude from one great race that everything is fine in Formula 1 at the moment.

It wasn’t just at the front of the field that we saw quicker cars trying to pass slower ones. But not only were passes for position still in short supply, there were several examples of how it was impossible for some drivers to get close enough to even try a pass.

And Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica crossed the line separated by less than two seconds – but it rarely looked as though any of them might try a move on the other.

Jaime Alguersuari caught the Sauber drivers by up to three seconds per lap at the end of the race, yet couldn’t get close enough to overtake.

This is the long-lamented aerodynamic problem again. If drivers cannot get close enough to their rivals to put pressure on them, we’re not going to see close racing.

We already know the teams are banning the powerful double diffusers next year to reduce the cars’ aerodynamic downforce. They should seriously consider further reductions in wing size to make it easier for cars to run closely together.

If all they do next year is push the balance further towards less grip and more power, that will be of far greater benefit to F1 than unnecessary changes to the race format. As John H put it:

This was a great race.

We always look to the past with rose-tinted spectacles (??look at this, wheel to wheel stuff they?re almost touching?? Mansell gets in there?? etc…??) but try to imagine Murray and Hunt commentating on today?s race and you?ll realise F1 is in good shape these days ?ǣ not bad.

We don?t need overtaking every five minutes to make a great race. Keep races long. Stay away Briatore!
John H

What do you think made the Turkish Grand Prix such a good race? Was it a one-off or the sign of things to come? have your say in the comments.

Race rating data

The chart below shows the result of over 67,000 votes cast rating the last 42 races out of ten:

F1 races rated out of ten, 2008-2010

F1 races rated out of ten, 2008-2010 (click to enlarge)

This is part of “Making F1 better”, a series of articles looking at ways to improve Formula 1. Fore more information see the introduction: Making F1 better: a discussion series

Making F1 better

Image (C) Red Bull/Getty images

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149 comments on A brilliant race in Turkey shows F1 is on the right track (Making F1 better)

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  1. slr said on 2nd June 2010, 12:47

    Istanbul Park is the right track for F1. It’s just a shame that it’s difficult to get to.

    • Pointer said on 2nd June 2010, 13:18

      Did you go this year? I’ve not being before, but I found the transport that was laid on excellent and, certainly relative to Silverstone, getting to/from the track via public transport a breeze. Given that EasyJet fly into the airport just down the road and the general admission prices are so cheap, you could conceivably do it in a (very long) day for around £150 (if the flight schedules were correct – which they currently aren’t).

      • Paddy said on 3rd June 2010, 9:48

        I went this year and found it easy to get to if a little long with the shuttle buses from Taksim square. The track is excellent but the facilities are lacking. Research before the race led me to believe there was a lot more areas with TVs for the general admission areas. This wasnt the case tho and TVs were only supplied with the stands. Which is fine if they had have made it clear beforehand. You also couldnt buy a kangaroo or upgrade your tickets. It looked like they had downgraded the place from last year after the low turnout. This year the turnout was great and what a race. Definitely go back with maybe a grandstand ticket.

    • MigueLP said on 3rd June 2010, 4:53

      gosh i hate alonso hopefuly he will save this year but we needed an inspired raikkonen

  2. graham228221 said on 2nd June 2010, 12:57

    John H’s comment is spot on. The biggest gripes I have with this season so far are the woeful FOM footage and the dire Jonathan Legard. Every single qualifying session has been ruined by Jonathan SHOUTING TO MAKE EVERYTHING EXCITING EVEN THOUGH THERE’S STILL SIX MINUTES LEFT while we spend half the time looking at a drawn-out shot of a girlfriend/wife/boss/previously eliminated driver.

    • Bertie said on 2nd June 2010, 13:44

      Jonathan Legard is dire especially in qualifying. At first I thought they need an idiot to communicate with the masses that don’t understand F1. Then Martin can educate him and hence the masses during the course of the show. However, his enthusiasm at completely the wrong moments creates such confusion especially in qualifying. F1 is full of very subtle but significant rules that require great care in explaining. His approach and seeming complete lack of learning curve highlights why F1 is so hard to get into.

    • Magnificent Geoffrey said on 2nd June 2010, 14:14

      Magnificent Geoffrey presents: Jonathan Legard – a short tribute.

      Down the hill,
      And towards turn one,
      Jenson BUTT-on,
      Pushes on.

      Pole for Ferrari,
      Is going to be tough,
      Here comes Fernando,

      Webber is flying,
      But so too is Vettel,
      As Nico Rosberg,
      Is joining the battle.

      Is that a Ferrari?!
      Nope, it’s actually,
      Jaime Alguersuari.

      SOOT-il has lost it,
      And KOO-bica too!
      That was the last thing
      They needed to do!

      I’m sorry there Martin,
      You’ll just have to wait,
      I’ve just been informed,
      That Petrov is eighth.

      Hamilton wins!
      He’ll surely be happy,
      But will he be champion,
      Come Abby-Dabby?

      • graham228221 said on 2nd June 2010, 14:22

        That’s absolute genius!

        “I’m sorry there Martin,
        You’ll just have to wait,
        I’ve just been informed,
        That Petrov is eighth.”

        Couldn’t help laughing out loud in the office at that one!

      • beanzoo said on 2nd June 2010, 14:26

        you need more pauses between words when he gets excited “here comes webber……round……the last corner………can he do it……… yes……..pole…….pole for webber”

        Ps i really dislike him also

      • Robert McKay said on 2nd June 2010, 14:27

        That….that IS magnificent, Magnificent Geoffrey.

      • Henry said on 2nd June 2010, 15:32

        Yes that is brilliant! I really do think his commentary does pretty much ruin the BBC coverage…perfect example would be if you watch the replays of BBC commentary of the Vettel-Webber incident, Coulthard is describing it and Leggard just jumps in shouting over him! He doesn’t seem to understand that for TV coverage we can see whats going on, we want an educated informed insight from people who know what they’re talking about! he is USELESS!

        p.s. Yes the FOM could do better with the shots of wags, but I think the BBC’s repeated interviews of Hamilton’s girlfriend really was a low point. Please, we are not interested in what she has to say, we care about the teams, cars and drivers not the commentary of a half witted singer!

        • George said on 2nd June 2010, 20:10

          To be fair, she just butted in for one of those.

        • Tom Johnson said on 3rd June 2010, 9:40

          Carping. You have options, 5 Live or no commentary, use them. The BBC had two brief words with Sherzinger both initiated by Brundle and Coulthard. So what are you on about?

          • graham228221 said on 3rd June 2010, 9:42

            The 5 live commentary isn’t always available, or at least it isn’t for me. Didn’t the tennis stop this option being available last weekend?

      • theRoswellite said on 2nd June 2010, 15:58

        This is the kind
        of comments we need,
        presenting it all
        and all up to speed.

      • Ned Flanders said on 2nd June 2010, 16:08

        Keith, I know you’ve mentioned you don’t have a problem with Legard’s commentary, but on behalf of the majority that do can you make this song-comment of the day? It deserves it!

      • Scott Joslin said on 2nd June 2010, 17:16

        Magnificent Geoffrey – Absolutely Brilliant – Love it!!

      • Mike said on 2nd June 2010, 17:52

        Blimey that was well done.
        I agree with Ned, COTD!
        The worst bit, is that as I watch the race and listen to the commentary, I find myself regulary in this situation.

        A shot of one car flying past clearly shows a piece of wing flying off a car.

        Me: A bit just fell of his car.
        Me: I clearly saw a bit just fell of his car.
        Me: I have seen a bit just fall of his car.
        brundel: I think I might have seen a piece fly of his car.
        Me: Thank you Martin.
        A replay clearly showing a piece flying off a car
        Legard: I HAVE NO IDEA what we are SEEING IN THIS replay!
        Brundel: I’m sure I just saw a bit fly of his car.
        Legard: Really? WE MUST NOT have SEEN it WHEN it actually HAPPENED!
        Me: well, clearly you didn’t…. sigh….

      • Spud said on 2nd June 2010, 18:23

        Definitely COTD! That is brilliant! Sorry, magnificent! :D

      • BasCB said on 2nd June 2010, 19:13

        that is great! Your Magnificent

      • Dave in NZL said on 2nd June 2010, 22:54

        What a great comment. Thanks – it made me laugh in the office.

        I too detest Legard – I watch GP with my wife and she often says, after some woeful commentary “that’s the one you don’t like, isn’t it Dave?”. “Yes, Sarah. That’s the one”.

      • Nathan Bradley said on 3rd June 2010, 10:05

        Magnificent! Best comment since W154’s Jim Clark interview quote at South Africa 1962.


      • Daffid said on 3rd June 2010, 11:55

        Excellent. But you missed Legard’s dumbest catchphrase. “BUT WHAT ABOUT…!!!!??????”

        Usually, ‘But what about Button/Hamilton’ when they’re doing nothing of any note whatsoever and we’re trying to focus on something interesting.

      • Andrew White said on 3rd June 2010, 13:31

        Well done Magnificent Geoffrey. That’s a real shot in the arm for poetry.

    • disjunto said on 2nd June 2010, 19:12

      wish I could get the 5 Live commentary on iplayer… I’m pretty sure Legard aids in making F1 seem boring because you just want him to shut up the entire race

  3. MouseNightshirt said on 2nd June 2010, 12:59

    “Just as it would have been foolish to rush into knee-jerk changes following the Bahrain Grand Prix, it would be wrong to conclude from one great race that everything is fine in Formula 1 at the moment.”

    Never a truer thing said Keith. There’s still too much “dirty air” contaminating the racing.

    On a side note, I’ve noticed something on that graph. Spain has featured in 5 of the bottom 10 grand prixs over the last few years (including Valencia). So why are is F1 insistent on having two races there per season?

    • sumedh said on 2nd June 2010, 15:27

      I think that quote: “Just as it would have been foolish to rush into knee-jerk changes following the Bahrain Grand Prix, it would be wrong to conclude from one great race that everything is fine in Formula 1 at the moment.” should be the gist of the post.

      The simple reason why the Red Bulls and Mclarens were so close is because the faster car was behind the slower car.

      Overtaking is no more easier in 2010 than in 2009, except that it is now imperative to pass on-track than through pit stops. Which means we have lesser passing for positions but more ‘meaningful’ passing.

      I am going to whine about the ‘Schumacher train’ though. As the season progresses, this train is gonna cause havoc for all its bogies. Less than half-way through a race, the guys ahead of Schumacher can afford to touch lose a front wing, dive back into the pits and still come out without losing position. And no passing occurs whatsoever behind the Schumacher train due to 1) the cars’ pace is so closely matched 2) the complex aerodynamics on each of them.

      Aero-problem still needs to be solved, only then will F1 be on ‘the right track’ IMO.

      • Joey-Poey said on 2nd June 2010, 16:36

        Yes, the Schumacher train has begun to irritate me more and more as well

      • disjunto said on 2nd June 2010, 19:15

        hopefully someone gets impatient behind him and rams him off the track a few times, might have a closer fight at the front then

      • bananarama said on 2nd June 2010, 23:53

        I’d like to present a different point of view:
        How about the other drivers qualify better than him and/or have better starts than he does?! If they can’t, they don’t deserve to be ahead of him and clearly its not his fault that the MGP is not among the fastest cars, even though he might want to drive it around the track a little faster (I hope he will find a bit more speed inside of him).

      • No no no, it has to be alliterative, or else it doesn’t work. Schumacher Sled? Schumacher Sleigh? Schumacher Succession?

        C’mon people, cast your votes here!

        • Donal said on 3rd June 2010, 10:36

          Schumacher S-Bahn
          (what they call local train in germany)

          has an “f-duct” ring to it too!

  4. Kate said on 2nd June 2010, 13:01

    Good article, shame that its going to take the cars to stay evenly matched if we’re going to have another tense race like last weekend, and I think it was the nature of the track which allowed them to be so. The two cars are quick on different track parts – McLaren on the straights and RBR in turn 8 – and so because the track contained both they were “evening out” each others strengths and weaknesses. Won’t be any such luck in Montreal, thats got ‘McLaren Track’ written all over it.

    Oh, and nice one Keith for your ITV-F1 feature :). One off piece, or were they just not crediting you before?

  5. McLaren2010 said on 2nd June 2010, 13:02

    Perhaps we should have Martin Brundle doing the commantry alone or have DC with him, Legard is just poor, surely the BBC can see this??

    • MouseNightshirt said on 2nd June 2010, 13:07

      Brundle, Croft and Davidson. Dream team right there.

      • McLaren2010 said on 2nd June 2010, 13:16

        Brundle & Croft YES, Davidson NO, he is so bitter about not getting a drive that he makes all what the drivers do sound so easy. He should stick to the practice sessions!!

        • MouseNightshirt said on 2nd June 2010, 13:34

          I generally find Davidson quite knowledgeable and generally likable. He’s quite frank as well.

      • Obbo said on 2nd June 2010, 13:23

        “Brundle, Croft and Davidson. Dream team”
        Agreed! Croft has the easy but genuinely passionate style, Davidson is always knowledgeable and really showed his sharpness on the F1 forum on Sunday.

      • RubinhoFan said on 2nd June 2010, 14:32

        Put Jackie Stewart there as well

      • sAmMy said on 2nd June 2010, 22:56

        That is my perfect line up, too. Brundle has such a good ability to read the race. Davidson always has relevant driver POV and technical info, and Croft makes it exciting and entertaining.

  6. Hamish said on 2nd June 2010, 13:07

    For anyway who wants to know what F1 should aspire to just youtube keke rosberg.

  7. Great article Keith. Increase power, reduce grip, although i’d say from from aero, increasing mechanical grip is fine, definatley the way foward.

    As well as some more gimmic removal, quali tyre rule, silly, doesn’t work, tyre gap, also doesn’t add anything, four tyres of the same compound, doesn’t add anything, mandatory pitstops and compound changes. Etc etc.

    The purer the racing the more varied an less forced into these optimum patterns it will become.

  8. Bullfrog said on 2nd June 2010, 13:10

    Did the threat of rain make the race any more exciting?

    • BasCB said on 2nd June 2010, 13:21

      It did put some tension in at a time when nothing much was happening, so yes.

      • beanzoo said on 2nd June 2010, 13:53

        It did add a bit of excitment but as brundle said he has been lyin to the fans for years because the silly radar is far too sensitive.So to be honest i really did not think it would rain.

        On a side note I remember reading Eddie Jordans book and he was talkin about wet weekends and the unreilable forcasts so his solution he sent to of the team members 1 mile and 2 mile respectively up wind and told them to ring if it was raining if the teams don’t do this any more there very foolish.

        • Joey-Poey said on 2nd June 2010, 16:42

          That’s kind of clever, but not also fully reliable.

          Also, they weren’t lying about the rain at Turkey. In the “Brits on Pole” article, the writer said specifically there was a short spurt of rain. And you could see it on the camera lenses during the broadcast. It wasn’t much actually coming down, but the threat was real and as they said, when it’s warm like that there’s always the threat of a summer storm really pouring.

          • beanzoo said on 2nd June 2010, 17:32

            true and i accept your point maybe using a combo of the two would be the best.

          • I was on the race and rain was indeed falling for a while. However, the rain cloud was small and the rain didn’t fall strong enough – most of it evaporated on a hot asphalt but it was a nice refreshment in what was a very hot day…

    • sumedh said on 2nd June 2010, 15:31

      Oh yes!!

      A threat of rain is almost as good as real rain as demonstrated by this race.

      It is exciting to watch a race as long as the viewer *thinks* that it is going to become more exciting later on, which was the case of Turkish GP 2010.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2010, 15:52

      I don’t think the drivers or teams reacted to the threat of rain by changing their tactics at all, so I’d say no.

      • disjunto said on 2nd June 2010, 19:19

        I’m pretty sure someone stayed out a lot longer on softs in what seemed like an attempt to hit the rain. can’t remember who it was though

  9. David BR said on 2nd June 2010, 13:25

    Lack of refueling. It means the drivers on a team are almost guaranteed to be on the same strategy, which effectively bunches the cars in pairs (more or less). Then the teams are themselves in bunches: Red Bull and McLaren, followed by Renault, Mercedes, Ferrari, etc.. When Ferrari and McLaren were close, say, in 2008, the different fuel and pit stop strategies still meant there was little cat and mouse stuff to heighten the tension.

    However. Overtaking is still evidently a bit too difficult. I think the way to go is (non-catastrophic!) driver error: fully manual gear changing, so maybe drivers can bodge the gear change, and slightly less effective brakes to increase the braking zone.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2010, 16:01

      I think two things are doing more to prevent varied strategies at the moment:

      First, the combination of the “top ten tyre rule” and the “mandatory pit stop rule”, as we discussed here the other week: The top ten tyre rule is a failure

      Second, the aerodynamics which make passing next to impossible.

      The Toro Rosso example from this race shows this up perfectly. They gambled on a second pit stop but they wouldn’t do it until they had enough of a gap to the car behind (Liuzzi) to come out in front of them.

      Toro Rosso knew that even though Alguersuari would be two seconds per lap faster than Liuzzi after his second pit stop, he still wouldn’t have a good chance of passing him and it wasn’t worth bringing him into the pits until he was clear of the Force India.

      • David BR said on 3rd June 2010, 12:36

        Totally agree about the top ten tyre rule and aero, Keith. I just think all driver assistance should be minimized as far as possible (while remaining within reasonably safe limits) as driver errors and glitches are obviously a great way for them to lose speed and allow others overtaking chances. They also throw the onus entirely on the drivers (remaining calm under pressure) rather than the cars (relative ability to be overtaken).

  10. BasCB said on 2nd June 2010, 13:27

    Ha, you got the first one prove for it, Keith. The refuelling ban is starting to force drivers and teams to do it on track!

    This is what we were looking out for. A shame that most tracks are not such a nice combination to make different approaches to cars even out. Montreal will be McLaren, but i expect Red Bull to make a push to get their B-duct working there and maybe Ferrari finally gets it tuned.
    It also starts working for Mercedes, but they are no match for McLaren at the moment, and Kubica really likes Montreal so i hope to see him right at the front as well.

    The season really is turning into a classic, we had 4 great races, a good Monaco, 1 pretty boring race with a revelation driver in Webber and a borefest where the FOM forgot to show us the action in the backfield.

    Also a nice good weekend/bad weekend on ITV.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2010, 16:04

      er… BBC?

      • bosyber said on 2nd June 2010, 18:27

        I suppose that last sentence was about your ITV-F1 feature Keith :-p

        Wait, B-duct?

        • BasCB said on 2nd June 2010, 19:16

          Thanks for clearing that point, yes i ment the ITV website.

          As for “B-duct”, well, McLaren have the F-duct, as it is at the F in voda Fone on the rear wing. Therefore red Bull would probably have it in the B, making it a B-duct :O

  11. Obbo said on 2nd June 2010, 13:30

    Hamiltons harrying of the Red Bulls was a main contributor to the tension and excitement. I know Jensen was playing a tactically sound game in waiting it out behind the front three but I would have liked to have seen him give Vettel more grief while Lewis was attcking Mark.

  12. Macca said on 2nd June 2010, 13:32

    I was wondering Keith if you could get an average of each tracks score of the past 3 years and see which race has been voted the best. I ask this because I noticed the Australia has 3 of the top 10 races.

  13. Collantine preaching his dogmas… The jury is still out on the refuelling. I miss it because it was a decisive and powerful strategic element, which could help technologically weaker yet smarter teams. It is now gone – reduced to predictable parody of boring changes from/to option tires. I also miss refuelling because F1, especially during the last 20 laps of 2010 races, has become “economy racing” – saving fuels, tires, revs and lots of stuff which inhibit true racing. Constraining and sabotaging racing to the finishing line by means of refuelling bans in order to blindly make racing “more equal” is definitely not the way forward. Hopefully KERS and better tires/tire regulation next year will modify the current “cheapskate formula”…

    • Robert McKay said on 2nd June 2010, 15:08

      Sounds like you’ve got a couple of dogmas yourself to preach.

      • Ah – discussing the issue at hand?

        • Robert McKay said on 2nd June 2010, 15:49

          You can’t go on about people preaching their “dogmas” and then list your own without someone calling you on it.

          If you’d said “Keith has his own opinions on things but mine are different” then I would have had no problem with your post…you raise interesting discussion points, even if I don’t particularly agree with them.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2010, 16:14

      Constraining and sabotaging racing to the finishing line by means of refuelling bans in order to blindly make racing “more equal” is definitely not the way forward.

      I don’t understand your point. Refuelling was banned to save money, not to make things “more equal”.

    • Owen G said on 2nd June 2010, 17:46

      How often were there big positional changes in the last 20 laps of a race during the refuelling years?

      As far as I remember all the position changes were done with after the final round of pitstops typically, as everyone had the same fuel and freshish tyres.

    • disjunto said on 2nd June 2010, 19:27

      if Vettel hadn’t crashed into mark, we could of had the best end to the race of the season. all the cars were pushing too hard to keep up the pace until the end of the race, yet they all wanted to win. could of been a very interesting battle :)

    • George said on 2nd June 2010, 20:22

      Saving the car has always been a big part of motor racing, Le Mans – one of the oldest racing competitions – is an endurance race, same with the Indy 500 and various rally events.

  14. Gilles said on 2nd June 2010, 13:53

    I’ve been in favor of the refuelling ban all along: pitstops only kill overtaking as it is much safer to do in the pits. Drivers are now coming to terms with the fact that they have to gain positions on the track. We still need the mandatory tire change to go and we’re back where we should be. We indeed find that the original problem of turbulence has not gone away, since they haven’t done anything about it. Hopefully, the diffuser is indeed to blame and next year will be better in the sense that they can close up more.
    I must say that the middle part of the race is now the most boring: the start is always exciting but then we have to wait for the ‘wear & tear’ to do its work in the middle to see who’s where on tire and fuel status at the end. MW tuned down his engine to make SV’s move possible, otherwise they probably would have finished the way they were. Nice and close though and a large possibility of overtaking.
    I think the budget restrictions should also take some credit as it keeps the relative performance close enough. Hopefully, as these become more severe at the end of next year, this will start to contribute even more. In that respect, Ferrari seem to have their work cut out for them as they seem to be going backwards even without the restrictions …
    As I stated before, I think F1 is going in the right direction. Even the points system starts to show its merit: MW’s rise with his 2 wins shows that.
    2011 will be interesting for tires as well: they apparently design their cars for Bridgestone, but will receive Pirelli’s or Michelins instead.

  15. A sidenote: why doesn’t the FIA allow the driver’s briefings to be broadcasted ? It would be interesting again to hear what they will have to say on ‘cutting across’ in Montreal.
    Also: how can we get access to the car/pit communications ? I would like to know exactly what RBR told MW and SV instead of having to guess about it. What Maclaren told JB and LH would be of interest as well.
    If I remember correctly, in Oz 2009 we got to hear/read the comms to LH after the races. So this all seems feasible…

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