Turkish Grand Prix 2010: Can anyone stop Red Bull?

By Gareth Llewellyn
red bull formula 1

(Photo: Bolivar Sanchez)

This week Formula 1 returns to Istanbul Park for the sixth year of the Turkish Grand Prix and the first anti-clockwise race of the season.

The last two races have seen Red Bull’s dominance in full flow as Mark Webber led team-mate Seb Vettel home for the Milton Keynes based team’s second 1-2 of the season, and Webber’s second consecutive win.

Red Bull have landed pole position in every qualifying session this season and have gone on to win half of those races in Malaysia, Barcelona and Monaco, while also setting three fastest laps along the way as they claimed six podium finishes.

Red Bull could dominate as they did last year and a good showing in practice could make it a frustrating afternoon for their rivals with four out of the five races being won from pole—had it not been for Vettel’s mistake, it could have been a clean sweep for the pole sitters.

With that in mind, Saturday’s qualifying is crucial. Can anyone break the Red Bull stranglehold? Ferrari’s Felipe Massa certainly knows how to win in Istanbul, taking the chequered flag every year from 2006-2008, and what better time to get his own title hopes back on track in Ferrari’s 800th race?

Double world champion Fernando Alonso has been on the podium in Turkey three times with two second-place finishes and will hope to go one better this weekend. Ferrari and McLaren will again deploy f-ducts in Turkey, but they will need more than that to really challenge Red Bull.

McLaren had a good race pace in Barcelona despite being destroyed in qualifying by the RB6 and if the car has a similar pace this weekend. Jenson Button won last year while Lewis Hamilton had an epic run in the GP2 series back in 2006.

Renault gave a good show in Monaco, but Robert Kubica will not fancy his chances until Canada at a circuit which suits his car. His team mate Vitaly Petrov won the 2009 GP2 Feature Race, coming third in the Sprint Race, but the R30 is expected to underperform, and realistically there is little hope of Renault breaking through.

Force India could benefit from Renault’s misfortune with Adrian Sutil expected to push Kubica for a place in the top six. Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersauri and Seb Buemi could also push the upper reaches of the top 10.

Mercedes have switched back to their longer W01 after changing for Monaco but despite winning with Button last year, neither Michael Schumacher nor Nico Rosberg has anything near the car Button had almost a year ago.

Williams have brought a new specification car to the race after being unable to replace part of the wing and Sauber will look to finally get a break after a series of retirements. Kamui Kobayashi could provide some swashbuckling in the middle of the field if the car holds together.

Lotus looked to have made progress in Monaco so expect Heikki Kovalainen to ring the T127 this weekend. Virgin Racing’s Lucas Di Grassi will revel in having a car with a proper fuel tank and expect nothing of note from Hispania.

Tyre wear will be critical in Turkey—there will be no mega stints akin to the one we saw from Alonso in Monaco. Hamilton suffered badly with his tyres in 2007 and 2008, and turn eight will cause problems for all drivers as they fly through the left-hander at over 200mph and experience forces of up to 5G.

Everything points to another dominant display by Red Bull. The forecast shows minimal chance of rain and temperatures will be considerably cooler now than on its more traditional August date.

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