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Red Bull hard to tame

Based on past evidence, we should be able to safely predict that one or both Red Bull drivers will be standing on the podium on Sunday afternoon, writes Steve Slater.

india Updated: May 29, 2010 22:33 IST
Steve Slater

Based on past evidence, we should be able to safely predict that one or both Red Bull drivers will be standing on the podium on Sunday afternoon.

Just I am pretty confident that the arid heat will make the race a painfully hot and dry affair, equally I am sure that Red Bull's pace will be hard to match on the Istanbul Otodrom's long fast corners.

Last year the Red Bulls were the only ‘normal’ cars to match the pace of Jenson Button’s race-winning ‘super-diffuser’ Brawn. Webber’s second place and Vettel’s third made them the only cars in the top five not using the trick aerodynamic aid, with the other places being taken by the similarly-kitted teams.

Red Bull’s design continues to have the balance of high aerodynamic downforce against straight-line speed, something which this Herman Tilke-designed track favours. Normally mention of the German track designer’s name makes people groan in anticipation of a dull race. This track though is different.

The anti-clockwise circuit unashamedly copies some of the great corners at other tracks in the world. The first three corners are similar to the Senna-S combination at Interlagos. However the double apex left hander at Turn 8 stands alone as one of the most challenging corners in the world.

Drivers and their machinery strain against a sustained left hand cornering load of over 4G, flat-out at over 320 km/h. Because Turn 8 is such a long, fast corner, if you don’t get the line exactly right you get bounced off the circuit. The tyres, in particular the right front tyre, have to be hard enough to cope with that corner but still have to compromise for the generally low grip of the asphalt.

As you can imagine, that means that both reliability and driver finesse is as important as pure speed in Turkey. The former could be good news for Red Bull’s rivals as mechanical issues, particularly for Vettel, have compromised three of his races so far this season.

Equally the need to preserve that right front tyre may work against Vettel’s more aggressive driving style. Mark Webber has so often proved in similar conditions that his silky smooth approach prolongs tyre life and allows more flexible pit stop options.

It is the same in other teams. McLaren and Hamilton have been hampered in the last two Turkish races by excessive tyre wear in Turn 8 and one would expect team-mate Button to be easier on his tyres.

However if you are looking for a surprise or two, watch out for Force India, whose aerodynamically efficient cars look increasingly likely to overhaul Williams as the best of the teams outside the ‘big five’. They might even spring a surprise on Mercedes or Renault. And while Karun Chandhok may now be battling at the tail of the field in his HRT, in 2007 he set the fastest lap and before retiring, was leading the GP2 race at the track. Once again, it proves reliability as well as pace, is what you need in Turkey.