Talks begin to take Istanbul back to F1 agenda
ANKARA / ISTANBUL
Top-level talks have begun to bring the world’s top car racing tournament, Formula 1, back to Istanbul after a six-year break.
The new chief executive of F1, Chase Carey, recently visited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has a heavy agenda due to the ongoing campaign for the weekend’s charter referendum, in Ankara to discuss bringing motor racing’s top event back to Turkey, the manager of the Istanbul circuit said.
Top aides and Sports Minister Çağatay Kılıç accompanied Erdoğan during the meeting on April 11, which was held behind closed doors, the presidential website said.
Ali Vural Ak, the managing director of the Istanbul Park Intercity circuit, where the Turkish Grand Prix was held from 2005 until 2011, was also on the table.
“I hope that with the help of Mr. President, God willing, Istanbul Park will again host Formula 1,” Ak said after the meeting.
“We had very intensive meetings... we have not signed yet, but all that remains is a signing. God willing, our country will again host Formula 1 in Istanbul,” he added.
The annual race was removed from the calendar due to a lack of agreement on the cost of the event.
However, Erdoğan has reaffirmed in recent months that Turkey is ready to host any sporting event.
Chase took over Formula 1 after the reign of its longstanding powerbroker, Bernie Ecclestone, effectively finished in January when U.S.-based Liberty Media completed its takeover of the competition in a deal valued at about $8 billion.
There have been complaints that F1 failed to move with the times under 86-year-old Ecclestone, who has now been shunted into an advisory role as “chairman emeritus.”
Designed by Hermann Tilke, Istanbul Park remains revered for its challenging high-speed and its iconic quadruple-apex “Turn 8” left-hander.
However, the circuit has not hosted an international motorsport event since a 2013 World Superbike Championship round.
Next year’s F1 calendar has lost its Malaysian round, and Liberty Media has committed to France and Germany returning to the roster – which would mean 22 events if a Turkish grand prix was included.
“Could Istanbul’s notorious Turn 8 left-hander be back on the calendar soon?” ESPN F1, the Formula 1 branch of the worldwide sports broadcaster, wrote on its Twitter account, announcing the “deal in principle.”