The ongoing appearance of the Turkish Grand Prix on the F1 calendar remains in doubt with wrangling still ongoing between the event’s promoters and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
Despite the overwhelming popularity of the Hermann Tilke designed circuit amongst the drivers and broader F1 community, the event has historically been very poorly attended due to the exorbitant ticket prices that are out of reach of many local fans. While the race attendance for this year’s event was an improvement on that of 2009 – purely by dint of the entry prices being marginally reduced – empty grandstands were still very much in evidence (pictured).
It emerged earlier this year that Ecclestone was seeking to almost double the promoter’s sanctioning to $26M per year after 2011!
That will do wonders for race attendance and the future of the event!
The local Zaman newspaper is reporting that negotiations took place with event organisers on the Saturday of the Turkish Grand Prix, where Bernie again stated his demand for the sanctioning fee hike.
The country’s motor racing sanctioning body conceded it would not be “easy” to come to terms with the F1 supremo, whose company actually operates the circuit itself.
It is alleged that Bernie told the officials: “I leave it up to you. India and Arab countries are all ready to take your place.”
How very PC, Bernie!
Restating the nation’s desire to continue hosting the event, the Youth & Sports Director, Yunus Akgul, told the paper: “Turkey is definitely fond of hosting these races, and all this haggling is taking place for this.
“However, paying $26M for this organisation every year is a big burden. The figure is very high.
“We’ve approached the deal from a different angle. Our last offer was that he relinquish the operating rights to Istanbul Park, and we guaranteed that the track would be reserved for the organisation for three weeks before and during the races.
“In return, we wanted him to come up with a new offer," he added, while also admitting that if Ecclestone does not concede to a lower fee, Turkey could cease appearing on the F1 calendar.
It would be a terrible shame to lost this event from the calendar. What are your thoughts? Post your comments below…