Turkey hoping to remain on the schedule


The pandemic has seen Formula One return to a few former locations and even some new ones this season, but looking ahead to when (if?) the world returns to normal, officials in Turkey hope that the event at Intercity Istanbul Park can become a permanent fixture.

"I am trying to retain it," Intercity CEO Vural Ak tells the Anadolu Agency. "We are in talks (with F1 officials) to hold the Turkish Grand Prix next year as well.

"It will likely be finalized very soon," he adds. "My goal is to make this race a regular feature."

Though popular with (TV) fans and drivers, the event at Istanbul Park was dropped after just seven seasons, with the hosting fee understood to be the main reason why the promoters could not continue.

As F1 returns to the circuit, Ak is keen to make clear that the state will not be picking up the tab.

"As Intercity, we have brought Formula 1 back to Turkey without imposing any financial burden on the state," he says. "I think this is the ideal formula.

"Hosting it under the auspices of the Turkish state and president has given us a lot of advantages in the operational aspect," he adds. "But it was right not to pass on the financial burden during such times of economic hardships. Unlike other races or sports, this was not organized on the Turkish state's expense."

Just days of the sport's much-anticipated return, Ak says that preparations for the event - which will be held behind closed doors - are all but finalised.

"We are very happy to bring Formula 1 back to Istanbul after a nine-year break," he says. "We have been closely following this project ever since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assigned it to us four years ago. Eventually, this year, Formula 1 has come back to Turkey.

"All preparations are done. Decorations are underway. Billboards have been placed. Some minor cleaning and landscaping have been done. We have already finished all the major work," the venue's CEO revealing that the Turkish transport ministry has renewed the asphalt. "The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality helped us a lot in the repair works, except the cleaning, landscape, and asphalt renovation.

"In recent years, Formula 1 has been one of the most-watched motorsports and, generally, it has become a sport loved even more than football," he continues. "I am very happy that we have done it. Now we are counting down the days. Only one week to go.

"Perhaps, this season's champion will be unveiled at the Intercity Istanbul Park," he adds. "Lewis Hamilton is leading the standings but has not secured the title yet. With the points that he gets here, Hamilton may be crowned the 2020 champion."

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Published: 08/11/2020
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