Turkish Grand Prix to return? Carey meets Turkish president Erdogan

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A meeting between Chase Carey of new F1 owners Liberty Media and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised prospects of the Turkish Grand Prix returning to the calendar.

Also in the meeting with Erdogan and Carey were Serkan Yazici, the president of Turkey’s automobile club TOSFED, and Istanbul Park circuit operator Vural Ak. Akif Cagatay Kilic, the youth and sports minister of Erdogan’s AK Party, posted details the meeting on social media.

F1 left Turkey after 2011
F1 previously raced at the purpose-built Istanbul Park circuit between 2005 and 2011. The race saw poor attendance figures over its final years on the calendar.

Earlier this year Lewis Hamilton urged F1’s new owners to prioritise circuits which could attract large audiences. He cited the Turkish race as an example of the opposite.

“We used to go to Turkey and there would be 4,000 people there,” said Hamilton. “I don’t know if there’s less of a love there or if it’s too expensive for those people but I think we need to be in places where there are actual fans where they want to have a race.”

Turkey has been in a state of emergency since an attempted coup against Erdogan and his government last summer in which hundreds of people were killed. The country will go to the polls in five days’ time to vote in a referendum which could substantially increase his political power.

Liberty Media is seeking to expand the Formula One calendar. But last week F1 confirmed the Malaysian Grand Prix will be dropped from the schedule after this year’s race.

Istanbul Park is one of 15 tracks licensed to hold F1 races which do not currently hold rounds of the world championship.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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75 comments on “Turkish Grand Prix to return? Carey meets Turkish president Erdogan”

  1. I guess Erdogan hopes to be in a position where he can throw money around for his own glory without much risk of opposition to it. But really if that goes his way, it will be lining up nicely between Sochi and Baku for Autocrat PR projects.

    Off course the track itself is a lot better than either of those, but really, is this what the sport needs?

    1. @bascb
      Considering all of the anti-European propaganda being spread by Turkey, I can’t see it being high on many European fan’s list of races to visit, and I’m not sure I’d want to go racing there if I was a European driver or team member.
      European tourism to Turkey has declined massively in recent years, as has tourism from Russia, so I’m not sure who would be buying the tickets for any future GP

      1. Exactly, yes @beneboy.

      2. Uh, you mean the anti Turkey propaganda being spread by Europe yes? Starting from Holland? You aren’t actually saying it is the reverse?

        1. What anti Turkish propaganda?
          Many Turks live and work here and are generally appreciated for it, especially when they act cordially. Not all of them do, sadly.
          Holland did not call Erdogan a nazi. Erdogan called us Nazis.
          We did not send politicians to Turkey to campaign under Turkish residents of Dutch origin. Turkey did send politicians to campaign under Dutch residents of Turkish origin.
          We do not report people who say bad things about our prime minister to the government. Turks do.
          The list goes on and on, but you should get my point by now.

          I ask again, what anti-Turkish propaganda did we spread?

          1. If Verstappen makes the podium he better be carefull of holding his arm out in front of him for too long before moving his wrists to wave. They would use that to prove what they said about Holland.

          2. Nevermind him. He’s one of the infested.

        2. The various Europeans singled out for outlandish criticism by the Turkish government have done little else than laugh at the transparent attempts by the AK party to rile up crowds, which has admittedly worked fairly well among the kind of people that votes for their brand of politics.

        3. @ibrahim, I now live in Europe, and visited Holland a few times, but have not noticed any anti-Turkey propaganda (or even sentiment).

          But more importantly, I’d love to have the Turkish GP back.
          Although with the new high downforce cars it will be less of a challenge than it was before.

        4. Oh come on… please

    2. Fair question @bascb, I certainly wish a sport I love had a bit of shame left as to who it gets into bed with, but then again I wish lots of things that the world keeps reminding me I’m a fool to wish for, so…

    3. If it’s a political move, you can be sure it won’t effect the referandum results. I am a Turkish citizen and I believe Erdogan can’t impress opposites with F1. F1 has already a small amount of fana in Turkey. Anyway i’ll be very pleased to go to İstanbul Park if the tickets will cheap 😜

  2. As much as I loved Istanbul Park, I wouldn’t consider returning now a good idea.

    1. The FIA has all the data you’d need to recreate it. So why not build an exact copy in California?

      It’ll be great, and F1 will finally have its longed-for second US race.

      1. Haha, brilliant! I agree.

        (Technically, there might be issue with who owns the layout. Sure Mr. Tilke’s company may have designed Istanbul Park, but the track owner might actually own the rights to the track’s image, likeness, etc. and that could prevent duplication. I would expect most tracks are this way now-a-days.)

  3. MrF1GuyV12POWAHHH (@)
    11th April 2017, 16:40

    Turkey was an amazing track (Turn 8 especially), but the country has too many political problems right now.

    1. That has never stopped F1.

    2. @mrf1guyv12powahhh (glad I didn’t have to write that out!)
      My thoughts exactly, I certainly wouldn’t go, but what @rethla says is also true (see unrest in Bahrain, civil war on Ukraine border).

      The fact that it didn’t have a good attendance before doesn’t help it’s case either, although obviously Erdogan would be paying the bills. I happen to agree with Hamilton that a decent crowd adds a lot to the atmosphere, even through TV.

      1. @rethla @george And if you go further to the past F1 didn’t stop racing in Kyalami until…..after Apartheid.

        1. @davidnotcoulthard, they did suspend races from 1986 to 1991 after the sport came under external political pressure to join in the international boycotts on sporting events in South Africa in the latter part of the apartheid era (the French government had already prevented Ligier and Renault from competing in the 1985 race, whilst there were rumours that Alan Jones withdrew not because he was ill, as was the official line, but because the sponsors of the team pressured the team into withdrawing).

          It also has to be said that most of the drivers of the time were not keen on taking part in races in South Africa either, but either felt that they were obliged to take part because of their contracts with their teams or feared being punished by their teams if they did not race.

          That said, Formula 1 wasn’t the only series which took part in sports events in South Africa at the time – for example, official rugby union games were played during that era (South Africa continued to play international games until 1981, whilst major European teams, including France, Ireland and England, played tours in South Africa until 1984). Meanwhile, although South Africa had officially been expelled from the ICC in 1970, many privately organised and unofficial tours with major international teams went on right up until the end of the apartheid era.

          1. @anon Ah yeah, my bad.

            Anyway, now that I’ve come to think of it, I don’t recall F1 bowing into pressure to boycott an event on humanity grounds afterwards – IIRC there was a race in Bahrain which was cancelled but the reason for that was rather different.

    3. I always thought politics should be kept out of sports.

      1. Impossible.

        1. What I’m saying is, you shouldn’t punish Turk’s because of who their leader is, same goes for the tyrants in the m.e , China and Putin.

          1. Thank you. They don’t represent the majority, let alone everyone.

          2. At least in erdogone’s case.

  4. Jimmie in LA (@)
    11th April 2017, 17:49

    The track is a really fun one to see raced. But I really don’t see this as a positive step for Liberty Media. In a country that is on the poorer side of things, with civil liberties being abused, I don’t see this as a smart move.
    No matter how much I’d like to see that track raced again.

    1. 3211578569074366
      11th April 2017, 17:54

      The only solution I see is cutting up Istanbul Park section by section and reassemble it on Slovenia or Czech Republic, kinda like the Statue of Liberty.

      But this is my evil genius brain working, don’t trust it.

      (You’re better off designing and building a track in Slovenia with a 5-apex left.)

      1. I wouldn’t mind them racing at Brno instead :)

        1. me neither as it’s about 10km from my house :)

        2. Ahhh Brno is great!

          It’s andulated, flowing and great for viewing. It has some nice overtaking opportunities as well. If they ever axe the Hungarian GP than they should definitely consider Brno https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1AsQf8_RcI

  5. 3211578569074366
    11th April 2017, 17:50

    Chase, Chase, mi boi, you’re not supposed to sign deals with demons.

    1. knoxploration
      11th April 2017, 19:07

      Yep, this basically confirmed for me that Chase is no more than Ecclestone 2.0. Disgusting, and I won’t be watching any future Turkish race.

    2. Quite literally too late for that I’m afraid

  6. Yes, please! I wouldn’t care if that great track was in North Korea. Even if it was in Russia, I would vote for it.

  7. Neil (@neilosjames)
    11th April 2017, 18:03

    I’m probably not versed enough on what’s happening in Turkey to properly comment, but from what I see and what I read it’s a pretty bad place to not like the government right now. Or write bad things about the government, things like that.

    But at least this particular dictator-wannabe (disclaimer – or so it seems from where I’m looking) has a decent track to offer, unlike the others.

    1. To a degree what’s been happening in Germany in the 30’s. The only difference is, the global elite and the intelligence agencies are fully behind what’s happening. There’s more than 100 years’ worth of oil in the middle east; but another resource -which is getting more valuable by the day- is water. And the eastern part of the Turkish Republic has lots of it. In fact, we have the most in the region by quite a margin. That’s why you see so much civil unrest in eastern Turkey, the global elite have been poking that region with a stick like forever now. This Sunday erdogone’s new powers will be voted in a referendum, and one of the major articles grants him the right to divide the land of the Republic into different provinces as he pleases. And I’m sure you can figure out it’ll open a door towards what end.

    2. I moved to turkey 3 years ago and i can assure you it is a heaven comparing to what they show on media. As long as you dont attack police or try to overthrow the government you are fine. All of the countries around destroyed, same things happened in turkey and they are still more stable than most of the eu countries ( safer as well if they can exterminate isis in next few months)

  8. This is exactly what Liberty should NOT be doing now, courting dictators just for the sake of the “show”. Turkey had a great track, but this criminal Erdogan does not need encouraging. Involvement with this government by any business lends legitimacy to its past crimes, and material support to its future ones. The list of rich autocracies that F1 is in bed with should be shortened by it’s new ownership, not lengthened. Hopefully this is not business as usual in the post-Bernie world. I am seriously disappointed.

    1. We’re fighting for our democracy right now. Despite all that’s been going on, we don’t deserve to be called an autocracy. The majority of the people are against the ruling party and the criminal.

  9. So much for no longer going to despotic developing world locations. I suppose the word came down from Mr. Malone that shareholder value will be maximized at all cost. Get any silly idealistic thoughts out of your head Chase!

  10. Well counting those that attended the meeting there should be 6 people at the race.

  11. I’ve always believed politics should stay out of F1. While I know that’s an unrealistic ideology, if F1 can overlook the state of politics in Turkey, perhaps we can accept that there is a genuinely fantastic race track available there.

    I for one would love to see it back.

    1. Having a F1 race in a country by it’s very nature ís political. Whether it’s to boost tourism, international reputation or what not. Same with the Olympics or any other big sporting events.

  12. This does not seem like a step in the right direction by Liberty. I thought this was the kind of deal they were trying to avoid? It would be a serious error to take F1 back to Turkey in the current climate.

  13. Damn I’m torn, it’s literally the best modern track layout out there, and Erdogan is obviously a piece of *bleep*. I just wish we could have that track in a different country.

    1. How about not having erdogone ? Did that ever cross your mind…

  14. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    11th April 2017, 19:56

    It’s remarkable how leaders at the very forefront of world politics can find the time to personally involve themselves with Grand Prix trivialities. Yes she’s a bit preoccupied with Brexit at the moment, but you can’t exactly imagine Prime Minister Theresa May is going to find time for Carey when it comes time to renew Silverstone’s contract, nor do you imagine much input from Angela Merkel was required to confirm Germany’s place on the 2018 calendar.

    And yet Vladimir Putin, Bahrain’s Prince Salman Al Khalifa, Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev and now Erdogan, a president embroiled in a high-stakes referendum campaign, in a verbal feud with much of continental Europe, in a military feud with the Kurds and staining under the pressure of the Syrian exodus, can add his name to the list of world leaders who found time for F1. The cynical among you might suppose there are ulterior political motives. Moreover, considering that F1 is clearly the sport of choice for those hostile to democracy, I guess F1 is about to find its biggest new fan in Washington D.C…

    1. F1 is a great photo opportunity for vulgarian despots to display the power they hold on a global scale.

    2. The old bread and circus philosofy the tirans love…

    3. @william-brierty, that’s probably because Teresa May was more interested in stirring up fake outrage over an Easter egg hunt (sadly, I’m not joking about that)…

    4. @william-brierty Eh? Saying a democratically elected President is hostile to democracy and comparing him with Erdogan? Well that’s a very informed post, not. Of course democracy only good in leftist eyes when you agree with them. When you don’t, you’re not a democrat. How very democratic of you. Maybe you should stick to F1 in your comments on an F1 blog and not make this a political left vs right fight, how’s that idea?

      1. Not really wishing to get too far into politics here @montreal95, but I don’t get what you are saying.

        All of them are often critisized, all of them have been/are being disdainful of ppl critisizing them and media scrutinising them. All of them have called for their opponents to be jailed. All of them have people who loath them, and a strong following of people who take them as idols. And all of them are in power today. I think those are reasons to compare them.

        Remember that Erdogan was democratically chosen to be the president of Turkey. Just as Donald Trump is in the US. Well, and if you probably a majority of Russians, the same goes for Putin. All of them presidents that won within their own system. Off course people can have their views on how fair that system is/was, and how open and fair the democratic process during these election was, let’S discuss that in othe places in more depth

        As for @william-brierty ‘s comment about Trump maybe being the perfect target for F1, I think that what is lacking mostly is an opportunity for himself to get richer from having an F1 race. Well and maybe that it would go agains the idea of “US first” because almost all involved in F1 are from outside the US (apart from Haas, well and one could make an argument for Liberty, so who knows). I do think it takes away some from what the actual comment was about.

      2. @montreal95 pretty sure no one mentioned left or right there… and under this article it’s a rather silly thing to ask someone to keep politics off an F1 blog when, and I’m not the first to point this out, F1 keeps getting involved in politics.

      3. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        12th April 2017, 14:26

        @montreal95 – I know this is an F1 blog, but I think you deserve a proper explanation. I think most people who have paid any kind of attention to world politics in the past six months would agree that both Erdogan and Trump have been hostile to any form of restraint on their executive supremacy. That is not a political declaration; that does not mean I supported Hillary Clinton’s campaign (indeed, I would have preferred to see Marco Rubio as president) or that I advocate regime change in Turkey, that is a simple evocation of the observable downward pressure on democratic institutions in both the Erdogan and Trump administrations.

        Of course, there is an important distinction between Erdogan and Trump in the disconnect between rhetoric and actions. Erdogan has arrested and imprisoned opposing journalists and judges, whereas Trump has merely sought to crudely legitimize his judicial and journalistic opposition. Whilst Erdogan is in the midst of a referendum campaign seeking to award himself sweeping executive powers, Trump has already been frustrated by the courts and congress.

        However, in any other context, in any other country, Trump’s is an administration that would be proactively expanding executive powers. He has surrounded himself with people – like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller – long invested in an ultra-conservative idyll procured via a form of American authoritarianism. Trump spent much of the campaign blurring the line between a Damoclean ‘establishment’ and those that facilitate democracy – the media, opposition parties, etc. Indeed, it is indicative of the institutional strength of American democracy that Trump continues to be stringently opposed. So whilst there is a significant proportional disparity between Erdogan and Trump, it is subjectively valid to observe that both have exacted downward pressure on democratic institutions.

        I don’t ask F1 to exist in a political vacuum, nor only to do business with glossy-haired, Trudeau-type liberals, but I do ask that F1, as a global entity, advocate democratic norms and egalitarian values, and not to be a useful photo-op for autocrats.

  15. Liberty have announced a 21 race calendar but I have noticed that the Singapore race seems to be missing for next season, even the calendar for this site doesn’t have it listed. As good a track Istanbul is the attendance was on par with Malaysia, hence why it is dropping off at the end of the season. If Liberty really want to improve the image of F1, surely they should be targeting markets with emerging drivers, such as the Netherlands to replace Singapore if it does go. There is even tracks being built in Finland and Indonesia for MotoGP and in Georgia, where the TCR series recently held a race. However, Turkey had its chance and never utilised it and with the current Political state this shouldn’t even be considered

    1. The new Kymi ring in Finland (for Moto GP) looks great and F1 should go there given the Finnish motorsport tradition.

      However, F1 in the Netherlands is not going to happen because Zandvoort is terribly outdated and should be re-done completely, whilst the town Zandvoort is a terrible place in terms of logistics and very outdated as well. The TT circuit in Assen isn’t suited for F1 at all either and a new circuit would cost way to much (let alone the hosting fee’s etc.)

      As for Indonesia, with everything going on there I don’t think they’d be a better candidate than Turkey and they sure could spend the little money they have better than organizing an F1 race…. Maybe Thailand, Cambodja or Vietnam could do something like that?

    2. The calendar on this site is just a list of circuits that have contracts in place. Singapore is still under negotiation and, with the demise of Sepang, may well be more encouraged to sign up.

      And as for Netherlands having a race for emerging drivers, if you mean Max, he is as much Dutch as Nico Rosberg was Finnish. Max was born in Belgium, although he is entered under his Dutch nationality.

  16. This is expected really – it is after all called the Formula One Autocratic Countries’ Championship.

    Turkey’s government spent the last few years preparing for membership, and it seems they have finally done enough to be considered as full members.

  17. I expected much better from the new owners of F1. I am very disappointed. In the end, as always, it’s about the cash. Of course. How naive of me.

    1. Some information:

      Turkey has been under a state of emergency following last summer’s mercilessly bloody attempted coup. Since then, more than 130,000 dissidents – state officials, teachers, bureaucrats – have been sacked; more than 95,000 have been detained, with more than 47,000 arrested; more than 7,000 academics and 4,000 judges and prosecutors have been purged from their posts. On top of this, 149 media outlets have been shut down and 231 journalists imprisoned.

      Source: https://turkeypurge.com/

      If your answer is, Hey, this is an F1 site, not a political forum, then you are part of the problem.

      1. Hear hear! @shimks

      2. one sided political diatribes are the problem. To completely ignore the last century of politics between “Europe” and Turkey is to completely miss the point. But the masses are not supposed to know anything other than what their televisions tell them to believe. That is the problem. Enjoy begging for rule changes :)

  18. A race in Turkey would be a total disgrace as far as I’m concerned. Any country that shares a border with Syria, is considered somewhat dangerous in my eyes.

  19. F1 needs to move away setting up vanity races for dictators.

    This seems like a very unwise meeting for Chase Carey to be involved in. Erdogan is swiftly moving towards autocracy in Turkey.

    Leave the track to rot.

  20. Regardless of the politics and state of the country, love the track layout and hope it’s able to come back to the calendar.
    Couldn’t careless for Baku.

    1. One of my favourite onboard videos is of Schumacher vs Alonso in 2006 at Turkey. It was an epic battle and these cars would be capable of that type of drama but I still think Turkey should be a no go for F1. Too close to one of the worst war zones in modern times.

  21. This is a very risky gamble on Liberty’s part. Either it’s really smart or really stupid on their part to go back to Turkey in its current state of affairs. I personally would like to see India return but the likelihood of pigs flying is greater than that twce ever coming back.

  22. Usually I am against races in countries ruled by despotic regimes. I can probably make an exception for this track.

  23. Nowadays, the sports world is more in the hands of dictators as it was ever before:
    1- Just take a look at the football world: Man City is ruled by Abu Dhabi from UAE (a country with horrible human rights record and no freedom of speech), Paris Saint Germain by Qataris (should I say more about it?) and so on.
    2- Example in F1: in Malaysia, a country whose Oil Company supports AMG Mercedes and is its major title sponsor, there is still caning and capital punishment and we do not give a damn.
    3- The F1 races had been held before in South Africa during Apartheid and Erdogan is like them (better or worse doesn`t really matter, but look how the regime in TUR handles the Kurds)
    Conclusion: we either have to condemn and boycott all the dictators’ activities in sports or let it go as it is.

    1. Whilst I agree with the sentiment, to say it is more now is just not true. Seedy people, dictators, crooks, despots, always have and always will be connected with sports.

  24. Great news if true. Was it turn 13 here that has multiple apexes? Current generation cars will look insane round there.

    1. Turn 8

  25. Should the Turkish GP return to F1 next season where you would put it on the race calendar? The last time it was part of the championship it was held on May 8, and the latest slot during the circuit’s so far seven-year period in F1 was August 27, but the schedule is already quite crowded, so some compromises have to be made if it was to return.

  26. I enjoy, lead to I found exactly what I was taking a look for.
    You’ve ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day.

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