Looking Forward to Istanbul
At last we approach the end of the Great Mid-Season Break, when nothing but speculation drives F1 and we debate the tiniest details of old news in an effort to ward off our withdrawal symptoms. Rumor has merged Mercedes and McLaren, sacking and then re-hiring Ron Dennis in the process, popped Jacques Villeneuve out of his seat at Sauber BMW and plugged in Robert Kubica instead, created a superteam at Ferrari with Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen as joint lead drivers, and had an all-Spanish driver team at McLaren.
Okay, some of these have turned out to be true but, in general, we won’t know the truth until Monza, at least. And had there been some racing to concentrate on, most of them would have passed virtually unnoticed. So it will be good to get back to the real thing this weekend in Istanbul, especially as it is that rarity amongst new circuits, an interesting and varied course with plenty of passing opportunities. Any circuit that is likened to Spa has to be a good one.
Now the battle between Ferrari and Renault can begin again after their joint embarrassments in Hungary. I will stick my neck out and suggest that Ferrari will retain their advantage for the next two races but thereafter the pendulum will swing back Renault’s way. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
There are dark horses to consider too, teams who have solved their early and mid-season problems and now look increasingly competitive. McLaren is always one of these but Honda and Sauber BMW look as though they could get in there and steal a few points as well.
But whatever happens, it will be a huge relief to the fans when the engines burst into screaming life again on Friday. The real meat of F1 is the racing and all the politics, driver swaps and logistical struggles mere seasoning. And a diet of sauce alone can get pretty boring over three weeks.