When it comes to the great corners of Formula One, tradition generally holds sway: Eau Rouge, Copse and Casino Square, to name but a few, are legendary names in the sport’s history. ‘Turn Eight’ may have a little less mystique than its more historic counterparts, but the longest corner of the season is worthy of the reputation it has acquired since 2005. Turning left through approximately 200 degrees, this 640 metre-long corner has established itself as a firm favourite among Formula One drivers.
The following paragraphs, provided in Q & A form by the Mercedes GP Petronas team, shed some light on the challenges facing an F1 driver when seeking to master this unique corner. What is perhaps the most challenging corner on any modern-day Tilke circuit, rates amongst many drivers’ outright favourite, but 7-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher describes it as “not particularly difficult to drive..”, so maybe he can show the young-pups a thing or two at next weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix.
Turn Eight is 640m long – which equates to 12 per cent of the total lap distance of 5.338 kms – and lasts for 8.5s, equivalent to 10% of the current lap record of 1:24.770 set in 2005. Drivers generally take three apexes, the slowest of which is at 260 kph, with an average corner speed of 270 kph.
Turn Eight presents a unique combination of very high speeds and sustained load. In terms of time spent in the corner, the cornering phase through Turns one and two in Shanghai totals 8.7s – which exceeds Turn Eight – but during deceleration rather than at sustained high speed. The Parabolica at Monza lasts for 7.6s, and Barcelona’s Turn Three for 7.4s. In terms of speed, comparable corners are 130R at Suzuka (3.7s, 315m) and Copse at Silverstone (3s, 240m) – both have a duration of less than half that of Turn Eight. In terms of distance, the season’s next longest corners are Parabolica at Monza (470m) and Spa’s Pouhon (460m) – both are over 25% shorter than Turn Eight.
The peak G-force is 5G, while a level of 4.5G is sustained for two seconds. The average G-force in the corner is 3.5G.
Turn Eight is the most demanding corner of the season in terms of tyre energy. Although it represents just 12% of the total lap distance, this corner alone accounts for approximately 40% of the total tyre energy during the lap at Istanbul Park. Of the car’s four corners, the right-hand front tyre is worked hardest.
The peak suspension loadings through the corner are over 10,000N – equivalent to a force of 1,000kg, or over 150% the total car weight. The average loading on the right-hand front is 7,000N. The corner also imposes vertical G-forces owing to the bumpy surface between the first and second : the variation between +0.5G and -0.8G feels harsh to the drivers.
Car set-up must take this corner into specific consideration, notably in terms of tyre camber settings and ride heights, particularly at the rear of the car.
For seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, the corner is “not particularly difficult to drive but one of the season’s longest and pretty fast.” Performance in the corner is car-dependent: “It’s very heavy on the tyres, and the way you drive the corner largely depends on the car and how you have set it up. That compromise might make it tricky, so we need to wait and see how it goes.” In contrast, team-mate Nico Rosberg finds it “one of the most challenging corners of the year” owing to the high speed and prolonged G-loadings. “If I had to create a fantasy Formula One circuit, this corner would definitely be included!”