APRIL 23, 2011
Turkey on the way out?
The Turkish GP at Istanbul Park on May 8 could well be the last one. The race was first held in 2005 after the Turks signed a seven-year deal with Bernie Ecclestone. That expires this year and the word is that a hike in the fees to $26m is considered too much.
The build cost of Istanbul Park and the race fees were government funded and while the inaugural race was well attended, numbers have dropped off considerably with just over 30,000 attending last year's dramatic race.
Today's high circulation Hurriyet newspaper quoted a tweet from Murat Yalcintas, head of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce that said that it looked like the race would no longer be held because the sanctioning fee was too high for the finance ministry.
Although the calendar has lost Bahrain this year, F1 is scheduled to head to Austin, Texas, in 2012 and the potential loss of the Turkish GP is unlikely to be too deeply mourned. The circuit is some way from the centre of Istanbul and access can be time-consuming. That said, the track itself is one of Hermann Tilke's more popular, containing several elevation changes and the tremendously demanding triple-apex Turn 8. If only they could pick it up and put it down somewhere else...