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Friday, April 22, 2011

Istanbul Park F1 race under Threat

Further to my recent rant about the continuing escalation of costs associated with hosting F1 and the threat to a number of state sponsored F1 races directly arising from the inability of the circuits to cover their costs I see that the Turkish GP is likely to bite the dust after 2011, if the F1 Fanatic story is to be believed.

I guess my sudden interest in this issue arose first of all when Spa-Francochamp declared last year, I think just after the GP (which I had attended), that it was no longer viable to host the racing series due to the costs.

Then just the other day it was the Nurburgring - a story which I noted with significant sadness.

To tell the truth I could live without Turkey, a Tilke design, many of which rely on the performance of the car over that of the driver (a Jarno Trulli observation with which I'd agree).  It's not that it's a bad circuit it's not historic - from an F1 perspective.

It is however symptomatic of the current economic climate in which we find ourselves that a circuit which only opened its doors to F1 in 2005 does not find itself able to justify the expense of extending its F1 contract beyond the initial 7 years.

It appears the race fee has doubled to $26 million for 2012 and the Government will not make the payment.

The story which came out on Reuters points out that in 2009 only 36,000 three day passes were sold "a smaller turnout than at some of the pre-season tests in Spain -- and last year some of the stands were entirely empty".

Further to my earlier article this would mean that 7 of the current crop of 20 circuits are now under threat - with Interlagos under threat because of its recent safety record.  So we can expect a 13 race series in 2013.

A 13 race series wouldn't be so bad were it not for the fact that all of these circuits will be vital to F1's future and so will begin to cut costs, which will lead to poorer track and safety conditions and poorer facilities: this on the basis that they're future is not under threat.  1970's safety at 21st century installations.

On a lighter note it would seem that even when Turkey's fee is doubled to $26 million (€18 million) it's still far less than Bahrain which was quoted preseason at €30 million.  It looks as though not everyone is on the same rate - food for thought...