Hot on the heels of its participation in the wildly successful Bavaria City Racing street demonstration event in Rotterdam, Holland, Midland F1 Racing returns to competition this weekend in Istanbul at Round 14 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship - the Turkish Grand Prix.
In the three-week period since the previous race in Hungary, the team has been working hard at its operational base in Silverstone to bring forward new aerodynamic developments for the M16 race car, several of which have been evaluated during straight line runs at Elvington Airfield in the UK.
New to the calendar last year, Istanbul Park is one of only three circuits on the Formula 1 calendar that run counter-clockwise. (Coincidentally, the other two also begin with `I`: Imola and Interlagos). The 5.378-kilometre circuit also stands out for its steep elevation changes - close to 46 metres over the course of a lap. These gradients, combined with a unique multiple-apex left-hander at Turn 8, the flowing nature of most of the corners, and top speeds approaching 330 km/h, all contribute to Istanbul's status as a true driver favourite.
Tiago Monteiro (POR), Car #18: "Istanbul levels the playing field a bit between all the drivers in Formula 1, because it's still relatively new. It's a fantastic circuit - definitely my kind of track - and the only place where I have as much experience as any of the older drivers. I had a reasonable race here last year and enjoy the city, as well, so I'm looking forward to a good weekend. I've had a good break since Hungary, and taking part in the street demonstration in Rotterdam was a fantastic way to gear back up for racing. The team has been busy working on developments to the car, so I am keen to get back on the track and see what we can do."
Christijan Albers (NED), Car #19: "I've had a pretty busy break since Hungary but the highlight was definitely the Bavaria City Racing event in Rotterdam! It was amazing to take the M16 around the city streets and to drive in front of so many of my fans. There was a great atmosphere in the city and the team put on such a fantastic show. The rest of the time I spent working on my fitness and preparing for the remaining 5 races of the season, which will include some very challenging circuits. Istanbul will be a good place to match ourselves to our rivals and I hope that our developments will have further improved our position."
Giorgio Mondini (SUI), Test and Reserve Driver: "It will be good to get back in the car, as I haven`t filled the Friday driver role since Indianapolis. Istanbul is a new track, so I won`t feel too disadvantaged having to learn the circuit. There are some technical sections and a variety of gradients to handle, but I feel I am up to the challenge. The team still has a lot to learn about the set-up required there, so the Friday role will be as important as ever. As usual, I`m really looking for to it."
Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "The August break has given us all a chance to pause and assess what we have achieved so far this season. The staff at the factory has used this valuable time to push on with some important developments. With no formal testing allowed, we are as keen as ever to see what ground we have covered. Everybody is beginning to focus on 2007 but I am confident we still have a lot of performance to realise with the M16. Our drivers have been busy with a series of events but I know they have both done a lot of preparation work to make sure they will be sharp this weekend."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race and Test Engineer: "The surface of the track in Istanbul is very smooth, but can be expected to have evolved from last year, when it was quite low in grip and very hard on the outside front tyres. Our setup will concentrate mainly on platform stability and we will target a lower downforce level than normal - closer to what we used in the Canadian and US events than the last race in Hungary. During the longer break between races, we have been able to produce some further important aerodynamic updates for the M16, and with help from our partners at Toyota and Bridgestone, we are looking forward to making further progress with the qualifying and race pace of our package."
Johnny Herbert, Sporting Relations Manager: "The facilities an Istanbul Park are fantastic and it's always a pleasure to stay in such a buzzing city. I think this is one of the most exciting countries we visit in Formula 1. We're looking forward to a great demanding race track that pushes car and driver to the limit, and with both our drivers back for their second year here, we hope that a successful weekend will come our way. Tyres will be a big factor, as always, and with Bridgestone we know we will have a competitive selection."
- Ron FINE, Midland Racing -