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)

  1. antonyob said on 2nd June 2010, 16:44

    Something else ive noticed and this may need an article in its own right but ive seen far more cars oversteering than i can remember this season. Two stick out, the Virgin through the tunnel at Monaco as it was hunted down by Alonso and Jamie Alguesuariin qualifying for Turkey. Awesome to see, breathtaking in fact.

    Are the drivers better, are the cars easier to hold? Do the tyres have a more progressive loss of traction??? Keith do you know???

    Personally i enjoy seeing a car sideways as much as i enjoy an overtake – sometimes more. The overtake seems to be obsessed over but not the ability of a car to go sideways. Its certainly made me watch dikes on bikes or motogp as i believe it to be commonly know

  2. Matt said on 2nd June 2010, 17:07

    So, biggest question to come from the race – is adjusting fuel mixes and turning revs up and down from the pit lane the same as intentionally crasing a car and causing a safety car incident?

  3. antonyob said on 2nd June 2010, 17:11


    answer: No.

  4. Polle said on 2nd June 2010, 17:26

    Attempts at an overtake is sometiems better than an overtake. You’ll relize that wet races and races where the fight is for the top spot often rate the best. You’ve got the races like Melbourne this year or Brazil two years ago, scores of overtaking here and there that you forget the dominance of 1 team which is probably half a lap ahead.

    Then you’ve got the races like Turkey this year and Spa last year, while overtaking was difficult, drivers attempting to pass or placing alot of pressure still generate alot of excitment. It sure did for me. Sutil behind Kimi and Lewis hounding Webber.

    Not very often you see races where the top 2 or 4 cars are so close together with a chance of an overtake or a crash. There’s still the problem with the Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes train but fans love it when the attention is for the victory. Not 14th place.

    • Magnificent Geoffrey said on 2nd June 2010, 21:46

      I absolutely agree.

      Overtaking is the one thing that excites us the most as viewers, especially so if a move is made for the lead or near the end of the race say. Like you say, a race with little overtaking but a genuine battle up front can be more exciting than a race with lots of overtaking down the field that’s dominated by a driver leading by 30+ seconds the whole race.

      It’s a bit like in football, there can be such a thing as a 0-0 draw that is still an incredibly close, tense and exciting match to watch that viewers could even enjoy more than a 5-0 match where you know who’s going to win within five minutes of the game starting.

      Turkey was just the sort of scenario we wanted, no strategy to mess things up and just a straight race to the line. Having the top 4 all together like that was exactly what we wanted to see. If we can find a way of tackling the ‘dirty air’ issue and are lucky enough to have such close performance between the top teams like that again, I can’t think of anything more that I’d want.

  5. Anyone posted a video,of LH an JB duel ?

  6. Daniel said on 2nd June 2010, 23:19

    There’s also another reason, that unfortunately can’t be transformed in a rule: Turkey 2010 was such a good race also because the top teams had top drivers capable and allowed to race each other hard (sometimes too hard)…

  7. jayb said on 2nd June 2010, 23:54

    i was there in Valencia in 2008 and i’m still receiving therapy to get over it!! but as for the race in turkey. One swallow does not make a summer. F1 still needs a shake up from top to bottom.

  8. SoLiD said on 3rd June 2010, 0:07

    F1 is indeed in great form.. and that has been since the control tyre imo.
    Next year the ban on the Double diffuser is great!
    Now we need the new engine rules and then see we can get some more or less stable rules. That always loses the field up. And never go back to a tyre war! Tyres have a to big of an influence.
    Being ill this week I discovered the bbc iplayer free practice with Croft and Davidson, great commentating.
    It’s great to see how much Davidson knows. He’s was spot on with everything that happend on track (failures)

  9. Kris H. said on 3rd June 2010, 7:20

    This was a great race if only for the fact that the body language of the drivers after the race was as much anticipated as the race itself.

    Lets face it – spicing up intra-team rivalry is way more effective at improving the drama than anything else.

  10. PeteL said on 3rd June 2010, 9:51

    Finally got time to put a comment up. I went to Turkey, started bad with a nightmare Taxi journey from Attaturk airport to the Hotel (on the Asian Side), and thought that this was just the start of things to come, how wrong I was! The Hotel (Hotel Park156) was fantastic, despite my worries over booking something over the internet as a result of a google search for ‘Hotels near Istanbul Park’, travel to and from the circuit was only marred by my own incompetence (I won’t go into it I’m afraid) and all the races (barring the Porsches) were brilliant. GP3 was excellent – so many cars, so little space on the track! GP2 still showing itself to be the proving ground for future F1 drivers and then, the main event, Superb, being a Jenson fan from way back in his carting days, I admit to getting a little bit excited when he put his move on Lewis, but I’m not disappointed with the overall result.

    Only real gripes as follows:
    Why no kangaroo TV?
    Circuit could have done with more TV screens
    What’s with the security on the grandstand not letting you take bottles in with the lids on or tins of beer unopened?

  11. mateuss said on 3rd June 2010, 10:49

    Yes, atleast somebody spotted what I was talking about.

  12. MondoL said on 3rd June 2010, 10:51

    “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.”

    Why Vettel could get so easyly on webber if “due to a change in the mix he was ,18 sec slower per lap”?

    was webber only ,18 sec/lap slower?

  13. Ronman said on 3rd June 2010, 11:07

    I cant actually tell you what can make a race better than Sunday’s that i have never written before. but it seems that when Ferrari’s are leading, they usually do so in a fashion that alienate everyone else.

    over and over again we have seen it, when Ferrari win a race they are untouchable. it’s as if they forgot how to develop a car and stay in the pack rather then leave the pack behind. it’s either that or fall behind.

    i think a little less down-force will change the races quite a bit. a boost button (KERS i Guess) to be used a limited times per race will also be cool.

  14. Adam Smith said on 3rd June 2010, 12:26

    I agree with the comments on Jonathan Legard! Why the hell does he say someone has got pole position with 6 minutes left of qualifying. Its so infuriating! Last year it was funny to get Martin Brundle argue with him, because obviously Martin knows a lot more than him!

    He just doesn’t read anything about F1 correctly, I get quite annoyed watching it, I wish David Croft was the main commentator. I know you can get him on red button, but its different to the tv coverage with trackside info.

    Oust him!

  15. Charles Beaufort said on 4th June 2010, 1:43

    Sorry to be a pedant, but wasn’t Brazil ’09 dry?

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