Istanbul seeking permanent slot on calendar


As ever, it all came down to money.

Though popular with (TV) fans and drivers alike, the race at the fabulous Istanbul Park Circuit wasn't able to pay its way, and faced with ever increasing hosting fees and the inability to put bums on seats, certainly in serious numbers, yet another great venue was lost to the sport.

Speaking at the circuit today, days after the pandemic saw Istanbul drafted back on to the calendar, Vural Ak, chairman of the circuit's operator, Intercity said he was hoping that the return of F1 could be a permanent fixture.

"We were in talks for a long-term contract to be signed in 2021, but it's difficult for a country to be added without another leaving," he told reporters. "The pandemic changed this.

"Once the operation is completed without problems, both sides are willing to turn this into a long-term contract," he added.

While Mugello is expecting to allow a small number of fans to attend, likewise Sochi, Istanbul is hoping to attract as many as 100,000.

"We are prepared for anything," he said. "If the disease becomes worse than now, then the race can be run without spectators. However, we know the capacity of this track is about 220,000 spectators in the grandstands and open areas. If we have to close some sections for safety reasons, then about 100,000 spectators will be able to watch the race following social distancing rules."

And while the fans might not have been enticed when Istanbul was hosting the sport around a decade ago, Ak hopes the offer of seats as cheap as 3 a day, 9 for the weekend, will see the grandstands filled.

"Formula 1 normally has certain standards and ticket prices are at a certain level," he said. "However we do not seek to gain financial advantage from this and the government has encouraged us.

"The ticket prices will be 30 Turkish Lira a day, it will be 90 Turkish Lira in total for three days. Tickets will be on sale next week and we think the tickets will sell very quickly."

Asked about the condition of the track, on which only three of the current grid have won - Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen - he said that following a complete evaluation, ahead of a second the asphalt needed renewing.

"It's a 15-day process and we can do that," he said.

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Published: 01/09/2020
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