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Turkish Grand Prix: 5 things to watch for in Istanbul

| 11.11.2020

Following on from the trip to Imola a fortnight ago, Formula One returns to another old favourite this weekend for the Turkish Grand Prix.

Though it has only hosted seven races previously, the Istanbul venue was a hit right from the start, thanks to it’s open, flowing layout, it’s incredible Turn 8 and it’s propensity for action-packed races.

And we can add another element to the mix this weekend, as Lewis Hamilton looks set to secure his Michael Schumacher-equalling seventh world title.

The Brit is 4/11 favourite to win this Sunday, ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas at 7/2, and Max Verstappen at 9/2.

Ahead of Sunday’s race, we’ve picked out five things to watch for…

Hamilton to wrap up the title

After another dominant campaign, Hamilton has one hand on this season’s championship with just four races to go.

The Mercedes ace leads team-mate Bottas by 85 points. For the title fight to continue, Bottas must outscore Hamilton by at least eight points this Sunday.

That’s something Bottas has only achieved twice this season. Though the Finn has been the unluckier of the Mercedes pair, there’s little doubt he’s struggled to match his illustrious team-mate when it counts.

Barring some unexpected misfortune for the reigning world champion this weekend, a seventh title should be Hamilton’s come Sunday evening, to bring him level with Michael Schumacher.

The fierce scrap for third

While Mercedes have been left to fight amongst themselves – and Verstappen – at the front, fans have been treated to a royal rumble between Renault, McLaren and Racing Point this season.

With Ferrari in the doldrums, third place in the Constructors’ Championship is up for grabs, and currently Renault hold a miniscule single-point lead from both McLaren and Racing Point.

The French squad have been in fine form of late, with Daniel Ricciardo grabbing podiums at the Nurburgring and Imola. But there’s been little between all three teams this season, and we should expect more twists and turns in the third-place fight in Turkey.

The mighty return of Turn 8

One of the reasons the Turkish Grand Prix became so popular was it’s majestic, quadruple apex Turn 8.

The g-force smashing, neck-pulling blast is spoken of alongside the likes of Spa’s Eau Rouge and Suzuka’s 130r.

And with this season’s Formula One machines among the most powerful and fastest ever seen, it will be a spectacular sight to see the likes of Hamilton and Verstappen take to Turn 8’s mighty challenge. Some say it’ll be taken flat. We’ll see!

Make or break time for Albon

With seats on the grid next season running out, the pressure is building on Alex Albon to persuade Red Bull to give him a drive in 2021.

The Thai-British racer has endured a difficult campaign, struggling to match team-mate Verstappen’s pace while also getting into a number of incidents.

Rumours abound that Red Bull are looking to break ranks from their in-house driver programme, and bring in Sergio Perez. The Mexican is a free agent for next season, brings substantial backing and has consistently performed at a high level for several seasons.

Albon only has a couple of races left to raise his game, and there’s no better place to start than this weekend.

Russell’s search for a point

If any driver deserves a little bit of good fortune on the track this season, it’s got to be George Russell, who is still seeking his first world championship point.

The Williams pilot has performed minor miracles this season, hauling his FW43 in the midfield fight.

Russell has frequently out-qualified and out-raced both Haas and Alfa Romeo drivers, yet each of Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen, Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi have managed to score points this season.

His chips appeared to be in at Imola last time out, as he found himself in 10th behind the Safety Car with a handful of laps to go. But on cold tyres and on a narrow circuit, a rare error saw him smash into the barriers, ensuring his wait for a world championship point goes on.

Will his luck change this Sunday?

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Richard Marsh

Richard loves his sport, especially if it involves the sound of tyres screaming around a race track. He's not fussy though and his '90s Premier League nostalgia and knowledge of team nicknames is tough to match.