2006 Turkish Grand Prix review — at last!

I’ve finally got round to writing a proper review of the Turkish Grand Prix. In the end, it turned out that I didn’t actually miss all that much of it (if the highlights programme was anything to go by), although there were a couple of bits that I missed. I think I was mostly just confused by James Allen saying, “It’s been a cracker of race,” and I just woke up thinking, “I missed it all!” But I didn’t.

Anyway, first of all it was great to see Felipe Massa winning a Grand Prix for the first time. I am not a big fan of Massa — I don’t think he has necessarily earned a drive in the most prestigious motor racing team in the world on merit. But anybody who plays the role of subservient second-fiddle to Schumacher deserves to stand on that top of the podium, and it was good to see a win mean so much to somebody.

Of course, were it not for the Safety Car situation it would have been Michael Schumacher crossing the finish line, but instead we were lined up for a classic on-track battle between him and Fernando Alonso. Thankfully, these battles are becoming a more regular occurrence.

Alonso once again showed plenty of skill in keeping Schumacher at bay for the full 15 laps of the battle. The end was very exciting. The two were separated at the finish line by just 0.8 seconds. It’s difficult to imagine them being any closer at the finish, and it’s probable that if the finish line was a bit further down the road we would have seen the opposite outcome.

As it is, Alonso has extended his lead to 12 points. Considering that the Ferrari is clearly superior to the Renault at the moment, Alonso is doing an absolutely fantastic job. If Alonso wins the championship, he will definitely have deserved it.

Another driver who impressed in Turkey was Ralf Schumacher, who cleverly saw a point in the circuit — turn 12 — where he was particularly strong enough to overtake — on the outside. Sometimes it is easy to dismiss Ralf Schumacher, but yesterday he proved that he still has talent (even if he doesn’t quite have his brother’s talent).

Jenson Button had another strong, although anonymous, performance, finishing 4th. Kimi Räikkönen was unfortunate to be crashed into at the hectic start of the race.

Martin Brundle noted how Nico Rosberg showed that he has his wits about him after he got out of the way of a faster car in the pitlane entrance. Rosberg famously scored very high marks in a written exam used by Williams to assess their drivers. But it’s one thing to sit a written test, and quite another to race quickly. After a promising start to the season, Rosberg has completely fizzled out for me. A lot of this is down to his uncompetitive car, but Rosberg needs to shine more in order to justify the hype.

Another winner his Hermann Tilke, the designer of the Istanbul Park circuit. Tilke has a lot of critics, but I quite like most of his circuits. They may be formulaic, but you have to admit that they usually work. Istanbul Park is a particularly excellent track though. Drivers seem to have a lot of room to experiment with different lines, and a lot of drivers are getting caught out, particularly at turn 8 — a real rarity in Formula 1.

What a shame that the race has been jeopardised by some petty political propaganda. Shame on the Turkish organisers, and to everybody at the FIA and FOM who let this happen.

Comments are closed.