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Fears for future of Turkish GP

NEWS STORY
08/02/2009

There is concern that Turkey could be dropped from the F1 calendar after the current contract runs out in 2011.

Ironically, the Istanbul Park circuit has proved to be one of Herman Tilke's better efforts and is rapidly becoming a firm favourite with fans and drivers, however, concern over financial instability as a result of the global economic crisis means that Turkey, which hosted its first Grand Prix in 2005, could fall victim.

The circuit belongs to the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO); however, due to the difficulties of managing the track it was decided to rent it to Formula One Administration (FOA).

The current contract gives either party, FOA or ITO, the right to give advance notice of their desire to cancel the agreement, the period of notice being three years, and according to Today's Zaman ITO President Murat Yalçintas has received notice from FOA, though he admits this could simply be a precautionary move as a result of the financial crisis.

Mr Yalçintas was also keen to make clear that in the short term races will not be affected and that the 2009 Turkish GP will go ahead as scheduled.

While Yalçintas remains optimistic for the future, this isn't a view shared by Can Güçlü, General Director of Istanbul Park. "We are afraid that 2011 may be the last year of the staging of F1 in Istanbul," he told Today's Zaman.

"There is serious competition from such countries as South Africa, Russia, Bulgaria and South Korea," he admitted. "South Korea has a highly developed economy and they place importance on sporting events. The (soccer) World Cup was held in there in 2002. And Russia has already started constructing a race course."

Appreciative of the fact that the calendar is currently limited to 18 races, and that competition for a place on the World Championship is fierce, he continued: "If we want the Turkish Grand Prix to stay on the calendar, we need to start working immediately. Or else, we cannot just begin negotiating for the race in the last year of the contract.

"We made a deal with Ecclestone in 2003 and the first race was organized in 2005. As you see, there is a four-year process in order to be included in the calendar. There is still nothing about extending the deal and no demand from either side."

The newspaper claims that FOA rents the circuit for $3m, and for that Bernie Ecclestone has control over all events held there.

The F1 supremo has said that the contract with Istanbul Park is the worst deal that he has ever been involved in, but that he continues with the contract because he believes in Istanbul and is convinced that it will eventually bring advantages. Bless.

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