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. Tim said on 4th June 2010, 7:02

    The comments above made me laugh.

    Yeah Legard is almost as annoying as James “The Cock” Allen.

    He says “IS THIS GOING TO BE GOOD ENOUGH” every time somebody completes a lap in Qualifying.

    Well obviously it’s going to be good enough, nobody else has completed a lap yet.

    And if somebody doesn’t do the fastest time, taking them to P1, he says “no, it’s not good enough”

    So… unless you get pole you aren’t good enough?

    It should be Brundle and a former F1 driver commentating.

    James Allen and Legard are so bloody annoying.

    • Max said on 5th June 2010, 4:31

      I’m sorry, but insulting James Allen is simply childish, he’s one of the best Journo’s on the F1 circuit. He runs a great blog, just doesn’t deserve that kind of abuse. He is excellent at what he does.

      Calling him a ‘cock’, well, that’s just playground stuff, and reflects on your poorly.

  2. Alexf1man said on 4th June 2010, 7:42

    The highest rated race not to have a single rain affected session!!!

    Brazil 2009 is higher but that had a wet qualifying.

  3. bosyber said on 2nd June 2010, 16:43

    So the established teams (well, disregarding fuel corrections from 2009) got faster by 0.43 second on average (and median, which deals better with outliers), but the fastest lap is now 0.72 seconds better.

    The best job is done by RBR, FI are about 0.7x faster, so developed equally fast. McLaren, with their – then still – dodgy MP4-24 improve more than double that (1.77s).

    STR and Renault, and I guess Brawn/Merc do around the average with evolutions from a 2009 car.

    Ferrari only gain .27, Sauber/BMW stand still (or go back from Brazil form?) and indeed, Williams loose almost a second.

    So, how do Renault manage to be in range with brawn – they won about .05 to them, but the field was very close (and they did better in race).

    Ferrari haven’t done good at all, esp. not considering their budget.

    Did anybody try comparing other races this year?

  4. bosyber said on 2nd June 2010, 17:01

    That was in response to the, now moved, post by pgj, and used the data he provided:

    Turkey Qualifying. team/driver 2009 2010

    Ferrari 1:27.349 1:27.082
    McLaren 1:28.207 1:26.433
    Brawn/Merc 1:27.230 1:26.857
    Renault 1:27.473 1:27.039
    RBR 1:27.016 1:26.295
    FI 1:28.278 1:27.525
    STR 1:28.708 1:28.273
    BMW/Sauber 1:27.455 1:27.434
    Williams 1:27.418 1:28.336

  5. Scalextric said on 2nd June 2010, 23:19

    Interesting. But the track was resurfaced since last year. I wonder what effect that had.

    Fuel load in qualifying was higher last year as well, at least for the Q3 participants. Unless the low-fuel Q2 times are stated which may be the case for teams such as Williams, STR, FI, BMW.

    More races would need to be compared and on a more rigourous basis.

    It’s tricky to come up with a valid comparison when there are so many other changes year to year: Regulations. Tyres. Weather. Drivers. Track changes at some locations.

  6. Bobby said on 3rd June 2010, 8:13

    Track resurfacing and track temparatures and different tyre compounds and regulation changes make it difficult to compare lap times from previous races at the same circuit.

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