Turkish Grand Prix in doubt for 2012

2012 F1 calendar

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Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Istanbul, 2010

This year’s Turkish Grand Prix could be the last according to reports in the Turkish press.

Reuters quote The Hurriyet Daily News claiming the government has refused to accept a doubling of the race fee from $13 million to $26 million.

Istanbul Chamber of Commerce head Murat Yalcintas said: “It looks like the Formula One race will not be held in Istanbul next year.

“Because it found this figure very high it looks like it [the finance ministry] will not make the payment. That is the reason the race is not happening.”

The Turkish Grand Prix has been held at the Istanbul Park circuit since 2005, but has struggled to attract crowds. Its original seven-year contract expires this year.

2012 F1 calendar

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    Keith Collantine
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    78 comments on “Turkish Grand Prix in doubt for 2012”

    1. One of the great race tracks in my eyes. $26m, Double the price….What warranted that?

      1. The contract. It’s to stop governments from agreeing to a Grand Prix, using it to promote the country and then falling off the radar after a few years. The organisers in Istanbul would have know this was coming going into the agreement.

        1. so… how does making them pay more money force them to not cancel a grand prix? Whatever the strange logic is in that, it doesn’t seem to be working.

          1. Because the first race of a second contract will be at a reduced rate. By paying twice as much for the race in 2012, they’ll be saving some in 2013.

            1. that makes a little more sense then

        2. But doubling the race fee is likely to make them do just that- agree to host a Grand Prix, use it to promote the country, then when the price increases, they drop the GP.

        3. but the world has slightly changed since that agreement was signed.

          However no doubt this is all part of the ‘fun and games’ that Bernie enjoys so much when it comes to dealing with countries… He wants as much money as he can get and the Turkish government like every government on the planet needs to cut ‘frivolous’ spending, which is how I am sure many Turkish tax payers will feel about F1…. It may be a great track, but it hardly draws crowds of Turkish people.

      2. Probably my favourite. Sad news, but not unexpected.

        What DOES warrant such a rise in the cost? Bernie loves the track personally apparently.

        I’m guessing he loves the money more…

        1. If he likes his money, he’d want to keep it… isn’t he a shareholder or something in that track?

        2. I think Bernie actually owns the track! It’s a shame if the race does go as I was hoping to go to Turkey to see the race sometime and explore Istanbul.

          1. Me too! I’d love to go.

            Wasn’t aware Bernie was personally involved with the track, I just knew it was a favourite of his.

            1. He does not own the track, he owns the promotor.

        3. I reckon there’s a few tracks which F1 itself should own and promote. Istanbul Parks probably one of them, that way no one need moan about the state of the facilities, promotion etc. All the money goes straight into F1, an all be groovy.

          1. FOM already is the promoter of the Turkish Grand Prix. It’s the perfect advertisement of why it shouldn’t be involved in any others.

            1. I agree. Promotion of the Turkish GP is really almost non existant.

      3. Apparently its what Russia will be paying when they enter the calendar.

      4. The track is nice, and the races are more entertaining than Barcelona (and Massa is good at this track). I’d rather it stayed on the calendar at least till it becomes the worst of all.

        1. Get rid of one of the Spanish tracks, they’re not as entertaining and there are two of them… or make them do a rotation à la Germany, but in a different way.

          1. Valencia is a very poor circuit for drivers and spectators. I went in 2009, it was terrible!!! No view and like having a race round Liverpool docks!!! Also not 1 single on track overtake in the entire race! No offence to Liverpool of course!

      5. Greed on the part of the gangsters who Bernie hooked up with to run F1.

    2. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this wouldn’t be the greatest of losses to F1, but I am really not comfortable with the idea of the race fee being doubled – this is how many good circuits lose events and ultimately it’s the sport that suffers.

      1. In terms of track layout, it’s one of the greatest losses, since its the best “Tikedrome”.

        Not a top class like the classics (Spa, Monza, Silverstone, Suzuka, Interlagos), but Istanbul Park is really enjoyable to watch, and probably will be even better this year.

        Its a pitty it never attracted the crowds expected, but that’s not the main point, since Shanghai also had to hide empty grandstands with adverts…

        Sadly the fee is too high and, from the organizers’ point of view, its a correct decision not to accept it…

        1. Went this year, definately the best view in F1 for £100 3 day ticket :) Grandstand on the last corner you can see everything start finish straight, end of drs zone, into pits. The majority of overtakes (82 in race) were at that last complex – Shame they dont bother to promote the race in turkey i for one will be buying a ticket again if they confirm it! Maybe it will be even cheaper to attract the locals…

      2. Obviously not as great a loss as the likes of Monza, Montreal, Monaco, Silverstone, Spa, but not every track has to be as old as those. It’s certainly the best Tilke track to host F1, along with Fuji and Sepang.

        1. Fuji and Turkey have horrid final hairpin corners, they are the only negatives, apart from Turkey is on the wrong side of the Bosphorus which makes it difficult to get to for the core European support.

          1. And the grandstands are very far away from the action, because of the massive run-off areas.

    3. That is an insane amount of money. Even if the Turkish government agreed to pay it that would mean a price hike on the tickets and even less people attending.

      I’m gutted, it’s one of the better modern tracks, probably only second to Malaysia. Tickets were dirt cheap as well, about £35 for General Admission. Could have made a good two week holiday out of it.

    4. Call me when they start playing a different tune.

    5. So this’ll keep the number of races in 2012 from being more than 20.

      1. Hardly justification though. Especially if Bahrain falls off the face of the Earth.

        1. Suspect Bahrain going to be back next year. Bernie likes em’ the revolution has been crushed.

        2. Bernie would be in breach of the Concorde Agreement if the number of races went above 20, he can’t yet guarantee that Bahrain won’t be there in 2012 and the USA and Russia both need accommodating before the majority of other circuit’s contracts expire.

    6. Good. Kind of a cool track, but with only 10-15,000 people attending, there are surely more deserving locations to bring the grand prix circus.

    7. Sorry, but I’m always curious why people always say that Istanbul Park is the best Tilkedrome circuit? apart from turn 8 and nice elevation changes, I see nothing interesting about the circuit. The circuit as a whole is quite boring and empty.

      1. Because while it may be so, have you not seen his other ‘masterpieces’…..

        Bahrain…. as you described minus turn 8 and elevation changes
        Abu Dhabi… free scope to do whatever with heaps of money ended up with Turkey minus turn 8 and the elevation changes…

        BLha blah blah it goes on. China has the first corner, Malaysia is pretty ****. Korea has the last corner which is both great and horrible. etc…

        Really they all feature extra long straights, no interesting corners and no elevation changes, but Turkey… which makes Turkey thebest.

        If tracks were teams we aren’t looking for RBR, we’re simply calling Virgin more organised than HRT.

        1. Also, it’s a relatively simple layout, with only 14 numbered turns (12 or fewer actual corners) which is something we’ve come to miss recently. Most of Tilke’s designs are way too fiddly and have no real flow to them being just a long straight and an endless technical section.

        2. i think tilke’s tracks just cannot produce a great race on their own(rain helps)…the DRS will make the races more interesting though with looong straights

          1. Last year’s Turkish Grand Prix was one of the best races of the season – and not a drop of rain.

            1. Actually Keith there were “some signs of rain around” as said in the race edit. But I’m just being pedantic.

              But you’re right, the clouds had nothing to do with Turkey being rated highly. Unless… You can claim it was the driving of a certain team eponymous with a certain beverage that claims to make you reach the clouds :D

          2. malaysia and china this year is good, no rain.

            1. @nas-T..without the DRS i don’t think we would have had such a gr8 race
              @keith..other tilke tracks are veryy boring..perhaps Istanbul is the only tilke track i like and it wud be sad if its taken off the calender

      2. Watch the 2005, 2006 and 2010 races.

    8. Get rid of Hungary instead!!

      1. Why? Statistically, Hungary is the race mosst likely to prodeuce an unexpected result. It had eight different winners in nine years, and more often than not, the winning driver had trouble there the following year. Plus, most of the race-winning drivers currently on the grid had their first victory there.

        1. Why?

          Because it’s Monaco without the houses, most likely to produce a processional race (although it might be better with tyres that go off).

          1. Hungary has generally put on good races in the past few years, I don’t understand people’s hate for Hungary.

            1. Hungary has usually produced a great race in recent years, the weather is great, the spectator views are superb and the fans in attendance are very friendly and knowledgable from all over Europe. I went in 2009 and 2010 and had a brilliant time staying in Budapest where there is so much to do. Also the track is very easy to get to. People that ‘hate’ this track do so just because of a few comments that Murray Walker made about 25 years ago. Time to move on…

            2. The 2006 race was great, the 2009 race was okay, the rest in recent years were the usual borefest. But it is well attended I guess.

            3. I don’t understand, Hungary regularly produces great racing, It’s a fantastic circuit to watch, and the circuit has some history behind it.

            4. I disagree with that. Montreal, Interlagos and Spa usually produce what I call “great” racing.

            5. Maybe they beat Hungary, but in comparison with some other Valencia’s…. I mean circuits, Hungary is positive glowing. Not only that, but it actually looks like a race track.

            6. Eh, I’m biased, Hungary = one of my personal favourites.

      2. McLaren Fan 17
        22nd April 2011, 22:04

        Hungary? Surely there are more worthy contenders, Valencia springs to mind immediately.

    9. get rid of Bahrain. 26 million is a joke. Bernie cud have just said they didn’t want to renew it instead of showing greed. Turkey is a nice track. wud prefer Barcelona, Valencia and Bahrain to get the bullet instead.

      1. It’s not about greed. The fees double in the final year of the contract in case the race proves to be poor value for money. It’s to stop irrepsonsiable spending, by having the organisers sink tens of millions of dollars into a race, enter into a round of negotiations to renew the contract, and then have everything fall apart. If the event gets onto a second contract, the costs for the first year are offset by the money spent the previous year.

      2. I hate Bahrain more than Hungary but they has lots of money…

    10. Teams don’t want more than 20 races in a season.
      So one had make way for Texas.

      Bernie seeks a mixture of 2 types of circuits:
      – Those that pay a ridiculously high amount to get the GP organised (like Bahrein and Abu dhabi) which obviously generate direct revenue for the FOM.
      – And those that bring an added value to the sport. Circuits like Monaco, Spa and Silverstone may generate less direct revenue, but they contribute to the quality of the “product” F1, that Bernie is selling.

      Turkey belongs to neither category. So an easy target for him. Maybe Hungary is in the same situation and we see Hungary make way for Russia.

      I wonder which circuit will have to go when Russia comes into play. We all have our hopes, but as said, Bahrein and Abu Dhabi pay too much to Bernie for him to take them off the calendar.

      Doubling the fee for Turkey was simply a way of forcing them off the calendar. Bernie will most likely have known exactly which fee he had to ask, to make sure it would be refused.

      1. You do realise that Istanbul is still on the contract that was first agreed in 2004, right? Bernie can’t just change the terms of the contract on a whim. Not without renegotiating first, which clearly hasn’t happened.

        1. He can, however, declare what price he likes when going from one contract to another. The “doubling” thing doesn’t look terribly likely since it’s well-known that FOM charges 10% more for races each year in the same contract through its escalating contract system. The only alternative Bernie had to this was to drop China and he didn’t take it.

    11. well.. anyone that has a chance to get to istanbul in 2 weeks, go out and show your support! last chance you’ll get..

      always sad news when you lose a track.. especially one as awesome as istanbul park.

    12. Bigbadderboom
      22nd April 2011, 15:00

      And on it goes, these announcments are normally publicised negotiations. Although in this case I can’t see Turkey paying the £26 mill, and Bernie has too many offers on the table to be able to consider them all as viable tracks. There has to be a realisation that for the poorer countries f1 visit it has to be a viable business proposition, I think from memory that Turkey struggles to get 20,000 crowds, and i can’t see where the would recover that kind of outlay.
      But it’s a shame, good circuit.

    13. I would be sad to see it go as I attended my first Grand Prix there. It is a great track which has produced some great races. The real problem with the race is that locals can’t afford admission even though the tickets are among the cheapest on calendar. 90% of the attendance last year were foreigners and while they can boost attendance figures local interest in crucial in any Grand Prix (well, with exception of Monaco).

    14. What they need is for a turkish driver to get into F1 and / or have Turkish sponsorship on a car as well as encourage more residents of Turkey to watch F1 in the first place :-) Would fill the grandstands and keep the track on the calendar a bit longer.

      1. Theres plenty of potential candidates on the roads outside believe me

    15. Wy not? When you have so many tracks and not enough weekends, use price as a circuit ejector button.
      How long before someone takes him to court. The doubling is many multiples above inflation hence unjustifiable.
      First they get circuits to spend mult million dollars building and maintaining the circuits. Then force them to pay more and more per year.

    16. Best circuit design by Tilke but in the wrong place where F1 is struggling to attract attention. If that happens that will be a really sad story.I hope F1 people react to this.

    17. I agree, it’s an excellent track maybe better now with the new tyres and DRS. Too bad.

    18. Agreed with wasiF1 above. Istanbul Park is one of Tilke’s better circuits, but it’s simply in the wrong location.

      I wonder if we’re going to begin to see how economically sustainable (or rather, not) it is for F1 to continue throwing money into these lavish facilities that fail because fans around the world like us dislike them for producing boring events (though I wouldn’t say this about Turkey, thinking more along the lines of Bahrain/Abu Dhabi), and the circuits themselves can’t make any money because the local population couldn’t care less about Formula 1, which isn’t helped by the general lack of event promotion on the local level.

      I suspect in the future the general consensus may be that Bernie needs to do a better job of selecting Grand Prix locations rather than becoming infatuated with lining his pockets all the more.

      1. Would rather have a boring circuit that generates a crowd than a good one that has empty grandstands. Bye, Turkey.

        1. I wouldn’t. I rather see more races like China 11 with empty grandstand then watch Valencia 08 with full grandstand.

    19. Just heard back from the race organisers who say Ecclestone will meet Yalcintas next month and a decision will be made then.

    20. It’s a bit of a double edged sword really. Turkey is a great race track in my opinion, one of Tilke’s better designs, but there just isnt a big enough crowd there. Unlike Spa, this track doesnt have heritage to use in it’s contract negotiations.

      Less fans = less money for the promoters, the teams and for Mr E.

      Increasing the fee would mean yet fewer fans attending as some of those that currently attend probably wouldnt want to stretch the money they’d spend on a ticket further.

      However, on the flip side, assuming that Bahrain and Turkey stay on the calender next years, there would be 21 races, which I think is too much. 20 is already about as much as most fans want. Unfortunately, something has to give somewhere, the French GP, Indianapolis GP and San Marinian GP organisers could be the first of many to tell you that.

      It makes you wonder which race will face the chop when the Russian GP needs to be slotted in.

    21. I’m Turkish and I’m terribly sorry for what happened. I can tell you that the Turkish government doing nothing to keep the race. As you know, everybody in Turkey loves football and not much give a damn about Formula 1.

    22. Seems to be the way it goes with taking F1 into new markets – get a new circuit built at massive expense, run the race for a few years, see if people take to it. If they don’t, move on to somewhere else.

      The inaccessibility of the circuit can’t have helped attendances, but also perhaps there just isn’t the appetite for F1 in Turkey that they’d hoped for. The race has done it’s job of promoting the country, but now the government may feel that there are more cost-effective ways of doing this.

      For Bernie, I’m sure he’ll lose interest in anywhere where F1 isn’t generated maximum revenue, and in any case he needs some space on the calendar for USA and Russia.

    23. It’s a shame. The thing is with Istanbul park is that its one of the greatest actual tracks on the calender, but only to more hardcore F1 fans.

      To a casual fan, it’s a blank, empty desert honing what probably seems like a boring track with no distinctive features or architecture. In contrast with Abu Dhabi, which is half as good a track.

      Paired with the fact it’s in a country not exactly overflowing with F1 fans and culture, and sadly, this is what you get :(

    24. Must be someone over in Ecclestone’s group said, “Hey, wait a minute! That’s a pretty good track! God, what were we thinking – get rid of it now! Good lord, how long has it been and nobody here has noticed… We MUST find someone to start watching these big prize things again.”

      In other news – I’d like to say that it’s quite forward-thinking of Ecclestone to have a senior member of his staff posting here so regularly. I do think that ‘Prisoner Monkeys’ is a bit of an odd pseudonym, though. I would have thought that Bernie himself was behind Mr. Monkeys, but then I realized that there’s far too little misogyny and thinly-veiled antisemitism for that to be true.

    25. F1 & Ecclestone have always been more about the money and GP fee that providing great race tracks.

      Suzuka almost left but came back. Spa came and went and came and went and is threatened every now and also the same with Silverstone.

      We have lost great tracks like Imola, A1 Ring and although Magny Cours is no great track, France needs a GP.

      We have gained some boring tracks, Bahrain, Valencia, Korea, China, Abu Dhabi, spoilt Barcelona with last sector boring chicane, (as a matter of fact all new tracks in the last 15 years except Malaysia & Turkey).

      People bag Hungary but as per above it has always brought some good races and unexpected results and first wins for many drivers, as has Montreal.

      Bahrain – boring
      Australia – good season starter, great atmosphere
      Malaysia – great track, challenging drive
      China – boring track but does provide some good races
      Turkey – great modern track with good racing
      Spain – great driver track but boring processional races
      Monaco – f1 jewel, about driver not car
      Canada – great track, provides 1st time GP winners
      Europe (valencia) zzzzzzz……
      UK – great driver track, but they keep changing layout
      Germany (Nurbugring) – good track
      Hungary -provides 1st time winners, unpredictable result
      Belgium – best driving track, has everything
      Italy f1’s drag race, short & quick race, history
      Singapore -night race is different but track is annoying
      Japan – another great driver circuit & unique
      Korea – zzzz….. but will see what races it provides
      India – yet to find out but it is Tilke zzzzz…..
      Abu Dhabi – sunset is nice and pit tunnel but zzzz…..
      Brazil – at leats it’s one of the old driving tracks.

    26. The excessive renewal cost may have been a way of getting a track off the calender but I bet Silverstone and many others, would not have paid $26m either, so not exactly an even playing field is it. I suspect greed was the true reason – same culture as the bank executives – what can anyone do about it? Vote with your feet!

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