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Classic Turkish Grands Prix

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Andrew Benson | 17:08 UK time, Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Turkish Grand Prix is only in its fifth year so it does not offer quite as rich pickings for our classic races series but there have still been some interesting races to pick from in the event's short history.

It is a history that has been dominated by Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, who has won three of the four races held at Istanbul Park since its debut on the Formula 1 calendar in 2005.

The Brazilian was a Ferrari test driver, though, when the track hosted its first race - to rave reviews from drivers.

They enjoyed the way it had been built to make the best of the contours of the land, and were blown away by the brilliant Turn Eight.

Here was a corner like no other in F1 - a fast left-hander taken at more than 165mph and which has no less than four apexes.

The corner lasts for several seconds, and puts a great strain not only on a driver's skill but also on his neck muscles.

Kimi Raikkonen - then at McLaren - was the winner of the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix in a race notable for a couple of major incidents.

In the first, Michael Schumacher - suffering Ferrari's least competitive season for years - tangled with Mark Webber's Williams and was forced to return to the pits with rear suspension damage.

In the second, and much more relevant one in the context of the championship battle, a mistake by Raikkonen's team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya on the penultimate lap handed second place to the Finn's title rival Fernando Alonso of Renault.

Since then, the race has belonged to Massa.

His first win was somewhat fortunate. He was on pole - but only because Schumacher, getting carried away with his own superiority, made a mistake on his qualifying lap.

The German had gone into qualifying with significantly more fuel on board than Massa, and even with the mistake was still faster on fuel-corrected pace than the Brazilian.

Schumacher would easily have beaten his team-mate in the race had it not been for an unfortunately timed intervention by the safety car.

Both Ferraris pitted at the same time and Schumacher, stacked behind Massa, slipped behind his title rival Alonso - where he stayed, despite strenuous efforts to pass, for the rest of the race.

In 2007, the race followed the Hungarian Grand Prix, where McLaren team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Alonso had the infamous bust-up that led to the Spaniard leaving the team at the end of the season, one year into a three-year contract.

Hamilton had won in Hungary and was on course to extend his lead over Alonso with third place behind Massa and his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen when he suffered a puncture.

That demoted him to fifth, and Alonso took the third place to cut his championship lead by two points.

It emerged that Hamilton's puncture had been caused by excessive wear to his right-front tyre - the one that is loaded up so heavily through Turn Eight - brought about by the Englishman's unique driving style.

It also caused Hamilton a problem last year when any hope of him challenging Massa for the win was removed by the necessity to do three stops to ensure his front right never got dangerously worn.

It's an intriguing selection - which would be your choice?


  • Comment number 1.

    It has to be the first Grand Prix... With everyone struggling with turn eight (especially Montoya at the end!) and Alonso snatching the win with two laps left. One of the few modern tracks which immediately seemed to produce great racing.


  • Comment number 2.


    Sorry I meant Alonso snatching second... silly me!

  • Comment number 3.

    I will vote for the 2005 race. It was refreshing to find a new ciruit that provided a decent driving challenge. Of the four races that one was the most memorable. "nd choice for me is 2006 and third choice 2007. I must have missed last years race as I cannot remember anything about it.

    What are the odd's for a Massa victory this time around?

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm not going to vote seeing as all 4 races will be chosen eventually. When are we going to get classics that are no longer on the calendar?

  • Comment number 5.

    I vote for 2005.

    I think this years race will be good, Button's gonna have a big challenge beaten Massa.

  • Comment number 6.

    It's got to be 2005 for me too. The first, the original and the best.

    This year will be interesting but you got to favor Jenson with his smooth driving style and his ability to keep his tyres in such good shape. With Ferrari making big gains and Red Bull' DDD on a much more suited track it should make for a great battle.

  • Comment number 7.

    Can't think of a stand out race for Turkey to be honest even though its a great track, for a new build, so will go for the first one. No real reason.
    Looking forward to what's after this race though!!

  • Comment number 8.

    2008. This had lots of tension and is the only one in recent memory

  • Comment number 9.

    that actually had tension. 2005 would follow suit and I'd be happy as it had incidence

  • Comment number 10.

    I assume you are going to do extended highlights of the chosen race and shorter ones for the rest?

    If so, I vote 2005.

  • Comment number 11.

    I vote 2005 just because it was the first one, and I'd like to see them struggling round the track! Great job with these 'classic' races, shame theres only a choice of 4 for Turkey, not BBc's fault though!

    Massa will win again from Rubens and Vettel. Button's due an off race.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'll vote 2008.
    2005 was painful seeing Ferrari perform so badly.

  • Comment number 13.

    I vote for a change in policy, and that any races with 5 or less races to choose from are dropped, and classic races from tracks that are no longer on the calendar are used instead (except Valencia, as they can do a selection of previous European GP's for that race), so for Singapore and Abu Dhabi they do a selection of classic races on tracks that are no longer on the calendar

  • Comment number 14.

    2006 please

    In 2005 and 2006 Alonso showed why he's such great driver. 2005 he was told that JPM had an altercation with Monteiro and Alonso dropped the hammer to grab second and pressured JPM into a mistake.

    Similar to 2005 San Marino GP, Alonso showed true class in holding off Schumi in the dying moments of race in 2006. But unlike Imola, Istanbul and is far more easier to overtake with the back straight you're a sitting duck.

    Just how did Alonso do it? Played with the engine maps enough to conserve the engine so he could hold off Schumi at the twisty first half of the track but enough to get good corner exits then revs on the back straight hoping Schumi wouldn't get a sniff of a slipstream and some crafty defensive driving skill to hold off Schumi at the final complex to beat him in fractions of a second!

  • Comment number 15.

    I would echo the feelings of some others, this is a great track and produces good racing. But its yet to have a "classic" race, who knows maybe we will get it this year.

    Really looking forward to this race as i can see it being a real battle for the pole with Brawn and Red Bull leading the way, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Ferrari, Toyota and Williams being very competitive and maybe mixing it at the front fuel dependent.

    Supporting Jenson all the way :)

  • Comment number 16.

    2006 please!

    I'm interested in your opinion Andrew on this race. At this article you mentioned Massa's win flattered to deceive to a fair extent.

    "In Turkey, Massa qualified on pole, with Schumacher alongside him on the front row. But Schumacher was carrying eight laps' more fuel in his car, worth nearly a second in terms of lap-time deficit - and was still on course to beat Massa had he not made a mistake on his qualifying lap.
    The heavier fuel load meant Schumacher would have easily beaten Massa in the race."

    I considered the time the fuel nozzle was on both Ferraris at the first fuel stop. Although the graphic is not present on the TV picture for either Ferrari stop, I timed Massa's fuel to be 7.63 seconds (I timed it in a video editing program from a recording). Schumacher's time is harder to discern because it cuts to Alonso who was timed by FOM graphics at 8.7 seconds, but his fuel time was more around the 8-9 second region. Yet despite this, Massa came in on lap 39 with Schumacher's pitstop on lap 43. So that's only four laps longer despite a probable longer pitstop.

    Schumacher may have had a slight pace of the weekend, but I believe Massa's performance overall was the stronger. He was on the pace in the first and middle stints, made no mistakes to Schumacher's two (one in quali, one in the middle stint of the race) and got the job done. Schumacher can't blame the Safety Car in my view for losing that race.

    I hope Massa makes it 4 in a row. I can only think of Schumacher (at Barcelona) and Senna (at Monaco) who have previously achieved that run of consecutive wins at a circuit. Mind you Hakkinen at Spain and Kimi at Spa came so very close.

    One last thing Andrew, can you and the BBC please consider showing one full BBC highlights for this weekend since there's only 4 Turkish GPs? Any one of these would be great:
    1979 France (there's a great Villeneuve performance for you!)
    1984 Detroit
    1984 Portugal
    1985 Portugal
    1986 Mexico

  • Comment number 17.

    The race that stood out for me was 2006 - A very entertaining race and a classic Alonso - Schumacher battle towards the end.

  • Comment number 18.

    The only good modern Track.. however, lets be realistic, it hasn't produced what could be called a 'classic'.

    I read before that you intend to continue this feature next year which is an excellent idea as i have really enjoyed the Australian, Spanish and Monaco hightlights so far. However, surely there must be enough races in the BBC archive to choose a country not represented this season when we are faced with a modern track , even considering we have other modern or brand new circuits later on this year.

    Argentina, USA, Canada, France, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino? Some of those countries have had loads of GP's where you could easily get plenty of races to show over the next couple of years.

    That said, i do really appreciate this feature and think it is an excellent idea and one i'm sure many of us are greatful for.

    Vote - The first Turkish GP... no reason.

    Keep up the great work.

  • Comment number 19.

    You can add Mexico and South Africa to my post above too. ;-)

    Where's it all gone wrong ey?? I've listed 9 countries with a Motor Sport Tradition and that all have classic circuits that we no longer visit. Depressing.

    If that doesn't finish you off then have a good look at the 'new' Hockenheim the next time F1 goes there. Disgraceful. (Gentle hint for a 'classic' choice when we go to Germany)

  • Comment number 20.

    We need classic races that are no longer on the calendar for race weekends such as this. These races from Turkey are available on the web already and this does seem to be a lost opportunity to show races such as Holland, America, Canada, France or even some European Grand Prix. I'm not moaning but just think this would be a good idea.....i am not fussed which races from Turkey are shown i remember them all like they were yesterday anyway :)

  • Comment number 21.

    Yep it's an Andrew Benson blog and you know that as it contains the usual dig at Ferrari and/or Michael Schumacher:

    "but only because Schumacher, getting carried away with his own superiority"

    Does my license fee really go to pay for this sort of blinkered prose. Sadly I guess it does!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    I'd have to go for 2007. It was an important race, and by Massa winning it and Alonso finishing ahead of Hamilton, kept the four-way title fight on course.

    This year I'm hoping for another Massa victory, it will be harder though as the Brawns have a pace advantage. However, Massa was flying in Monaco, so he might be able to compensate for that with his skill around Istanbul park.

    Prediction: 1. Massa 2. Button 3. Raikkonen

  • Comment number 23.

    Do you really think that tiggerspp?

    As soon as somebody like Andrew has an opinion about something, someone will always say "you love/hate so-and-so". If you take into account all his opinions I haven't noticed a real bias. Except towards Villeneuve of course!

  • Comment number 24.

    2005 gets my vote too, it was great to see people struggling round the track. Since then it's been a bit of a processional race and I think it will be again this year

  • Comment number 25.


    Please credit me with a bit more intelligence than just wishing to make a kneejerk comment over one sentence. To me it has come across in Mr. Benson's writing on the BBC website for many years and just recently I feel strongly enough to mention it especially as with these blogs we have a method to actually post an opinion.

  • Comment number 26.

    Yeah look I do understand your point of view. I haven't read Andrew's material before this year, but I do think someone can comment as much on somebody's weaknesses as well as their qualities that they bring to the table and seem biased either way.

    I've always thought James Allen was painfully biased and selectively excited about certain events depending on their outcome for a particular driver. But someone who likes Hamilton, Button, and Schumacher might not notice it as much as I do, and maybe someone else's criticisms of those drivers might make them seem biased against.

    I'm not certain Andrew has a bias against anyone in particular though in the writings I've seen so far.

  • Comment number 27.

    Easily the 2006 race - Massa was phenomenal, such an emotional victory, but the battle between Schumacher and Alonso was incredibly intense, right to the last lap.

  • Comment number 28.

    What would other people here think if there was a group of Classic GP's to vote on, when there isn't a GP. Considering the fact that I think it'll just be the races in the country before the race, irrespective of how great they are (my vote this time is for 2005).

    I don't wish to propose this idea, I'm just throwing it out for opinions. Maybe when there's a 3/4 week break. Between Silverstone and Nurburgring, perhaps...

  • Comment number 29.


  • Comment number 30.

    06, but like it matters what I vote for :)

  • Comment number 31.

    Can't see why 05 is so popular - it wasn't like a rainy race where drivers tend to struggle to keep their car on the road - it was just one corner which provided a bit of fun.

    08 is the best of the worst, none of the grand prix were classics but this was one of the few races where it was a good strategical battle, Ferrari clueless about which strategy McLaren were adopting until a few laps after the second round of stops.

    I'm not a Hamilton fan, far from it with his usual arrogance and unapologetic attitude but he did come up with one class line in the post-race press conference.

    Please don't show full highlights of China, Singapore and Valencia - must be a few classic races worth remembering

  • Comment number 32.

    we have gone past china already !!

  • Comment number 33.

    2004 - the only exciting thing from the track so far was when they were building turn 8.

  • Comment number 34.

    To those having a dig at Turkey, Abu Dabi, China, Malaysia et al; spare a thought for Hungary - Lada-land, Communism, little racing history.

    Post 1986, my, we've had some interesting races since!

    Let the new tracks time to create some history.

  • Comment number 35.

    Yeah it's a shame it's a new circuit, what's going to happen for Singapore and Valencia? I'd like to see a Turkish GP where Montoya did well, he was good driver, I'm not a Dr Nick fan (Massa) but wouldn't mind seeing Massa's first win there again!

    I'm looking forward to vote for the British GP, I'm going to vote 1994 or that time Mansell sold Piquet a dummy to over take him at Brands, but I'm sticking to 1994 as the BBC has four years left on their contract. Hopefully it will get renewed!!! Also can I point out that if Jenson Button wins the World Championship it will be more or less back to back British World Champion's for the BBC, Damon Hill 1996 and then maybe Jenson in 09! What a great way to mark F1's return home (to the BBC)

  • Comment number 36.

    2005 was really the only turkish gp i enjoyed so im voteing for that

  • Comment number 37.

    Hmm...I will go for '05 as it was the one where everyone seemed to be caught on the hop!

  • Comment number 38.

    I say 2006.

    Massa's first win and Schumi desperately trying to get past Alonso, with that really close finish for 2nd!

  • Comment number 39.

    No vote from me, no Turkish GP has ever lit my fire.

    I'd rather see highlights from historical races that aren't on this years calendar - Canadian, American (not Indy), Austrian, Dutch, Argentinian, Mexican, Swedish and Portuguese, for example.

  • Comment number 40.

    I can not over emphasise how disappointed i am with the BBC's policy of sticking with showing 'classic races' from GP's that only have a GP fixture in 2009.... even though half of them have only existed only in the broadband era. Andrew, why oh why haven't you addressed what so many, in fact, the majority of people have been asking for ALL sesason and that is to include races from GP's that are no longer hosted when we are dealing with GP's such as Turkey, Malaysia, China, Singapore etc?? This is just a complete and utter waste of BBC resources to show the nonsense that Turkey has served up for the past few years. We want to see genuine and all time classics, from legendary GP venues, races that we enthusiasts are desperate to see. The French GP, The Mexican, South African, Canadian, USA, Dutch, Austrian have all served some of the most meorable races of all time - instead we are denied that and have to tolerate the nonsense that is going to be put on again. Disgusted. If you are struggling to come up for races, give your old colleague Nigel Roebuck a bell, a genuine enthusiast and historian.

  • Comment number 41.

    Canada 2008
    Portugal 1994
    Austria 2001
    Argentina 1995

    To name but a few of the Granx Prix' I remember enjoying watching. Instead to endure highlights of the recently built GP's.

  • Comment number 42.

    isn't it to choose the favourite TURKISH GP?

    Anyway, in my opinion 2006 was the best Turkish GP, just for the sheer heartstopping nature of Alonso and Schumacher's duel for the last 20 odd laps...and finishing within 0.0819 seconds...yes, that time is etched in my memory! that's 8 HUNDRENTHS of a second between two formula one was a phenomenal finish, and a true representation of the two drivers' calibre.

    The thing about the Turkish GP is that it would be a processional race if it weren't for the heat and the punishing effect on breaks and gearbox. It is little about outright overtaking, but more about forcing the other driver into a mistake at most.

    So really it doesn't reward skill - unless you have two drivers fighting for the championship, nobody coming close, with every point crucial, and driver capabilities to push each other's level of precision like no other in the last decade could.

    Alonso was on his second race engine, so had to conserve; the renault was thought to be half a second or at least 3 tenths slower than the ferrari and bridgestones better suited to the dry heat...and schumacher's presence in his ferrari was daunting in their majesty of reputation. Alonso, the young pretender, the man who would be king, the one proving he is better than the best as a complete driver, showed what he was made of mentally, tactically, technically and by raw skill.

    Pat Symonds said afterwards that when they thought to tell Alonso to calm the revs to conserve the engine, they realised he was already - a young 24 year old - manipulating the revs and other aspects of the car of his own accord, at very specific parts of the track, and knowing exactly where he would gain and lose to Schumi on the different sections of the track. It was the key to allowing the ebb and flow of their duel, and I for one had my heart halfway up my throat in that final third of the race.

    Not every race is about overtaking moves or strategy, sometimes its just about the thrill of the chase.

  • Comment number 43.

    2005 is a special race for me. I was in a Spanish hospital and got to watch the race through Spanish eyes as Fernando advanced towards his first world title. Taking Montoya towards the end of the race gave exciting momentum towards his challenge - I remember Raikkonen asking on the radio why Montoya didn't finish second!

  • Comment number 44.

    2006 I reckon.

    Though I agree with the fellows who think there could be a randomly selected BBC highlights to make up the five we normally choose from.

    How about Dallas 84 or France 90. Any chance of this BBC?

  • Comment number 45.

    Completely agree with comment 42; I vote for 2006. Turkey 2006 was actually quite an exciting race - not in terms of overtaking, but in terms of the championship - much the same as with the 1999 Malaysian Grand Prix.
    I genuinely thought Schumacher would pass Alonso, but somehow Alonso did enough to (just) stay in front.
    In hindsight, it was a great year. Schumacher so very almost caught Alonso in the championship in 2006 - Button is right to not be counting his chickens yet.

  • Comment number 46.

    i think after seeing the ferrari's pace in monaco that massa will win in turkey again and raikkonen will finish second.

  • Comment number 47.

    was it in turkey that the ferraris were playing chicken wiyh who to pit first. i remember that raikkonen lost.

  • Comment number 48.

    Any chance of a misc bbc highlights Andrew? I wud like to see 1984 portugal or usa.

    But for the 4 turkey gps Id like to hear about 2006. Go go Massa!!!

  • Comment number 49.

    You made a mistake Andrew
    "The Brazilian was a Ferrari test driver, though, when the track hosted its first race - to rave reviews from drivers."
    in 2005, Massa was driving the Sauber, he even qualified the car in 8th place, and if it wasnt for him touching the back of Heidfeld and an engine failure later in the race, he would of got some points
    Massa was a test driver for Ferrari in 2004

  • Comment number 50.

    I would love to see the 2006 Turkish GP, but mostly an emphasis on the exhilarating last few laps if possible.

    Please, please, please could we have Martin Brundle and James Allen's commentary for that - it's what made the moment special.

  • Comment number 51.

    My favourite memory of Istanbul park is of Anthony Davidson qualifying there in 2006(?), I seem to remember him adjusting his tyre pressures just to enable a higher level of grip for one stab at turn 8. I think it put him on 9th spot for the race, pure genius considering the car he had under him.

  • Comment number 52.

    With only 4 race's to pick from I would of thought common sense would of prevailed and a selection of classic Grand Prix's or a mix of Turkish and races at tracks no longer on the racing calender would be chosen.

    Im not sure I have a favourite and would of thought with only 4 races to pick from all of the races should be shown really. There is no stand out race and I think a complete history of the circuit should be done, there were 4 races for the same feature when Monaco was the race last week.

  • Comment number 53.

    Any of them will be OK.
    But to reiterate majority of posters

    Please show GP's from the list below that are no longer held, any 1970's or 1980's preferably:

    South Africa
    USA East: Watkin's Glen
    USA West: Long Beach
    Detroit 1984 Martin Brundle's Performance was stellar a must!!!!!!
    San Marino

    Just goes to show how many exciting tracks we have lost, especially the street circuits in the USA, and replaced with relatively boring clinical tracks today!

    Please could you give a firm answer here whether you are able to show these excellent venues or not as at least we would know one way or the other, otherwise i can see more and more requests to see these classic race venues that we are likely never to experience ever again :-(

  • Comment number 54.

    Oops forgot another one, only held for two years but again another exciting street track in the USA: Las Vegas, Ceasars Palace Grand Prix. As opposed to Monaco most of the street tracks in the 1980's featured plenty of overtaking.

  • Comment number 55.

    2006 was my favourite.

    I would love to see a classic highlights amongst these Turkish Grand Prixs since there are only four. Is this possible? Dallas 84 maybe..

  • Comment number 56.

    my choice has to be 2007 since that was the season that got me hooked on f1

  • Comment number 57.

    Has to be 2005 kimi taking on both Renaults on the back straight and winning awesome. wish he still had that fire about him.

  • Comment number 58.

    2005 for me!

  • Comment number 59.

    I'll vote for 2005.
    Poor Andrew Benson, everyone's giving him such a hard time. It's not his fault the Turkish GP doesn't have much history. It is meant to be a race preview you know.
    My suggestions for showing classics from lost venues: for Singapore, non-Monaco street races; for Valencia, previous European GPs, obviously; and for Abu Dhabi, classic season-closers.
    Finally, as the French GP was always historically the week before the British GP, how about mourning its passing with some classic French races the weekend before this year's British GP...?

  • Comment number 60.

    Go 2006, the best Turkish event.
    I'll second others call for an old race to make up the missing slot. Can we have maybe Portugal 1984 or 1985? Please...!?

  • Comment number 61.

    Can we have the '08 GP2 race instead where Bruno Senna hit a dog?

  • Comment number 62.

    Wasn't Massa at Sauber in 05 not a test driver?

  • Comment number 63.

    thats correct preston4eva66

  • Comment number 64.

    The only highlight of any Turkish Grand Prix I can recall is the number of cars spinning on turn eight in qualifying the very first year they raced there. The drivers appear to have mastered this corner ever since.
    Nothing more to note that I can vote for.

  • Comment number 65.

    I vote for 2005, but as all the others, would suggest that the beeb show some races from the past that are no longer on the calender.

  • Comment number 66.

    #8 '2008 - This had lots of tension and is the only one in recent memory'

    Blimey, somebody's got a poor memory lol!

    How about none of them, and run some old french GPs instead !

  • Comment number 67.

    My best memory of the Turkish Grands Prix that have been held so far;

    Anthony Davidson qualifying the Super Aguri in 11th place in 2007

  • Comment number 68.

    It's sad that we're not going to Canada this year, I Love the races from there from over the years and the start of the race was (sometimes) about tea time. Would the BBC consider this, in between races for example Turkey and Britain would the BBC show old classic races from other races? I'm not sure how expensive it is to show them though the red button but is is it possible. Maybe some thing could be sorted out when the season ends (dread the thought) Would or Could anyone from the BBC's F1 team be prepared to shred some light on this? It's only an idea that could really work...

    I saw some Turkish GP's from the end of year annual DVD's and I think 2005 was the best race... All though those end of year DVD's are good! (I think)

    This years race will interesting are Ferrari back, are Red Bull still on the pace. Was Monaco a one off for Toyota, will Hamilton be back that's what's so exciting about F1 this year.

  • Comment number 69.

    In my view Turkey is the best modern circuit to emerge in the last few years. For me each race there has provided good action on the track, which is what we need to see most from Formula One.

    As a fan of Raikkonen I enjoyed 2005 naturally and I can also see the merits of choosing the 2006 race as a favourite. However my favourite race in Turkey is 2008.

    To put it into context, prior to Turkey 2008 the championship looked as though it was going to be a two horse race between the Ferrari's. After qualifying it seemed that it would be a straight forward win for Massa at his favourite track with Raikkonen down in 4th after mistakes. As it was Lewis Hamilton drove a storming race and gave Massa a run for his money. In the first instance he kept with the Ferrari before later making a great pass through a narrow gap to take the lead. On a 3 stop stategy it wasn't enough but it was a mighty exciting charge to watch. Except for the 2nd place result it was a fine drive reminiscent of Michael Schumacher.As well as being exciting it signalled that Lewis Hamilton could take the championship fight to the Ferrari's potentially creating a thrilling 3 way battle for the rest of the season.

  • Comment number 70.

    2005 - Just watching it on Holiday on Spanish TV was classic.
    The action and the way that the Spanish commentators lightened it up getting excitied was classical.
    Even when Kimi won, they went Kimmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmi!
    So I'll go for 2005


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