While Ferrari, its sponsors, fans and merchandise producers will be pleased with what was overall a successful weekend for the Italian team, one thing may worry them; that is the new found pace and competitiveness of the McLaren. Istanbul saw an exciting race weekend that will do much for the sport. Felipe Massa stamped his authority on a track that he claims "he owns". After qualifying in pole with what was an outstanding lap, he converted his qualifying position in to a race win, a hat trick for Massa who has one the previous two Turkish GPs. The Brazilian's record here will impress his team sponsors merchandise producers but most of all, his fans.
Unfortunately for Ferrari, current world champion and leader Kimi Raikkonen failed to overtake his McLaren rival, Lewis Hamilton. Massa dominated for Ferrari during the entire race however, apart from a bold overtaking procedure in the twenty fourth lap that saw the Brit take the lead. The move proved to irrelevant ultimately though as Hamilton was running a three stop strategy rather than the more uniform two stops that the majority of the pack embarked upon. Subsequently, due to this difference in strategies, Massa really didn't have much to worry about for the entire race.
Raikkonen had more difficulties however, after a collision heading into turn one with McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen, his front wing was damaged, something that hindered his race for the remaining laps. Ferrari bosses, sponsors and merchandise suppliers will hope that Istanbul was just a blip for Raikkonen who will be hoping to keep his world championship title. Ultimately, the difference between McLaren and Ferrari boiled down to tyre and strategy selection, while Ferrari had the distinct advantage of using the soft tyre compound from the outset, McLaren used the slower harder tyre. The difference was minimal however; seemingly it was only Hamilton who opted for this strategy as he found the going easier on the harder tyre compound; his renegade tactics almost secured him a win, but in reality, Ferrari were once again, too good.
Hamilton however proved his effectiveness as a racer. Despite not being able to take pole in qualifying, his efforts during the race, on a different pit strategy to everyone else, were described by some as the best of his career. His second place finish will give heart to the legions of fans, sponsors and merchandise companies who back the young Brit. The McLaren computer had estimated that the best position Hamilton could have placed was fifth, proving that the computer cannot always account for exceptional driving performances and the events of a race. Ferrari will be hoping that both their drivers and cars will have something left in reserve that will give them the edge once the procession moves to Monaco.
Of the other teams, BMW Sauber probably did the best with fourth and fifth finishes, keeping them ahead of McLaren and behind Ferrari in the constructor standings. Kubica will be disappointed however that he could not have placed higher. Fernando Alonso once again proved his racing pedigree by finishing in sixth, a finish that will please his army of Spanish merchandise suppliers, sponsors and fans. Even Red Bull managed to finish in the points with Australian Mark Webber placing seventh, although plucky Scotsman David Coulthard blamed under-steer and pit stops for a disappointing tenth.
Overall, while the Istanbul GP will be remembered for an outstanding third successive win by Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, what will be more memorable for Formula 1 commentators will be the new found pace of the McLaren. As the procession moves to Monaco, always one of the most exciting races of the season, all eyes will be on McLaren to see whether they can build on the impressive Turkish performance and secure a race win over the dominant Ferrari team.
Motor sport expert Thomas Pretty looks into the F1 race in Istanbul and how it will please Ferrari merchandise producers, sponsors and fans.