Hopefully the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix won’t be the last one

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Cameramen kept Istanbul's sparse stands out of shot last year
Cameramen kept Istanbul's sparse stands out of shot last year

Will F1 return to Turkey in 2011?

With attendance figures for the race plummeting and Bernie Ecclestone doubling his price to the Turkish government for a place on the packed F1 calendar, F1’s time in Turkey may be drawing to a close.

But it would be a pity to see F1 lose the best new track added to the championship in recent years.

Hermann Tilke, the man who holds a near-monopoly on F1 circuit design, is often criticised for creating uninspiring tracks. But Istanbul Park is unquestionably one of his better efforts, and the best one to hold a Formula 1 championship round.

The unromantically-named turn eight is one of few examples of a truly great corner on a modern track. Here’s some fascinating data on the bend from Renault:

As corners go, it?s pretty special and has already built up a fearsome reputation. It?s a 260 km/h rollercoaster, with a few bumps thrown in for good measure, and puts immense g-forces through the car and driver. Mastering the corner requires a sound set-up and supreme driver skill.

Although turn eight is usually described as a quadruple-apex corner, the drivers will treat it more like a double-apex corner. And, like any corner, the engineers still think of turn eight in three phases: turn-in, mid-corner, and exit. The only difference is that this corner is one of the longest of the season taking a full eight seconds from corner entry to corner exit. And in that time the car travels 600 metres with a top speed of 270 km/h.

The g-force stats are just as impressive with the drivers experiencing an average lateral force of 4.3 g during those eight seconds, with a peak of 5.2g. So it?s tough on the drivers? necks and don?t be surprised to see some extra padding appear on the headrests this weekend to help the drivers through the 58 laps of the Grand Prix.

There’s more to the Istanbul track than just turn eight – it has gradient, camber and bumps – vital components of the best tracks which other venues often lack.

Still when I went to the race in 2006 I made a beeline for turn eight. Like Becketts at Silverstone and Eau Rouge at Spa it doesn’t fail to impress when you see it in person.

It’s a pity fewer and fewer people make it there every year. But I don’t believe this excellent track is to blame for dwindling spectator numbers any more than it is for the dreary race there last year – voted the worst of 2009 by F1 Fanatic readers.

If you read the comments left here by people who’ve been to the race a consistent theme is how difficult the race is to get to. When I went four years ago my trek to the track from Istanbul involved a taxi, a boat, and a bus driver who got lost.

What I’ve heard from others suggests my experience was typical and that lack of promotion for the race added to public ignorance of the event.

The circuit itself really is in the middle of nowhere. There?s no nightlife, and when we returned to Istanbul, you?d be hard pressed to find any evidence of an F1 race taking place.
Mark from Canada

Moving the race from the heat of August to May’s cooler temperatures hasn’t helped attract more viewers. Last year just 32,000 made it to the race, prompting the organisers to cover some stands with tarpaulins to hide the empty seats, and the FOM cameraman to point their lenses away from the thin crowd.

The cost of admission has been blamed as another cause of poor attendance. But as reported here in May, Istanbul actually enjoys some of the lowest ticket prices on the calendar.

But what matters more is how that price relates to average local income – in which case the race may well be priced too high. It would be interesting to hear from Turkish fans what they think of the ticket prices – please post in the comments.

While there’s little to commend the dreary circuits built for F1 in Abu Dhabi and Valencia in recent years, losing Istanbul Park from the F1 calendar would be a genuine shame.

Do you want the race to stay, or should it be dropped? Have your say in the comments.

If you’re going to this year’s Turkish Grand Prix you can find other fans who are heading to the race here: 2010 Turkish Grand Prix discussion

2010 Turkish Grand Prix

Browse all 2010 Turkish Grand Prix articles

Image (C) www.mclaren.com

105 comments on “Hopefully the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix won’t be the last one”

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  1. Agreed.
    It clearly is the best of the Tilke-dromes.

    1. Totally agree. But the lack of crowds is a real threat for the future of this circuit.

      1. I like it because it is cheap to enter, thus good for us students! Really wanted to go to Turkey this year but it all came around too fast. Ended up with Spa tickets instead!

  2. First I think that the circuit is beautiful but it was built on the wrong place, I don’t think F1 is popular in Turkey. The lack of promotion is also o blame. It will be a real shame to loose this circuit.Work needs to be done on the promotion of the F1. I am afraid to say that I think that the ticket sales this year may not that good either.

    1. I agree, it was built in the wrong place. Imagine it as a Spanish GP, replacing both Valencia and Barcelona, I think it’d be hard to find a seat.

      1. Because of the demand of places on the F1 calendar I think it should be a lottery. Over the winter break every track goes into a lottery and then the ones that are pulled out make up the calendar for the season. The only consistent tracks in my view would be
        The opening round in Australia
        The closing round in Brazil
        and the rest should be selected by a lottery. Radical idea I know, but I think it would be great.

        1. Interesting idea. A bit like Eurovision semi-finals. Excluding certain countries that are staple (or in EV’s case pay money) the rest fight it out for who ends up in the final.

          1. No love for monza??

            Problem with that is the circuits need the continuity in their contracts to pay for the circuit and the high costs in hosting an F1 event. The issue would be adding circuits as they need a few years to bed in.

            A better idea might be a year on year swap a la Germany and Japan (when it used to).

        2. Uh, you forgot about Monza Macca…

          1. No, I didn’t forget Monza. I don’t like it.

        3. How about they just visit Melbourne/Silverstone/Monaco/Spa/Interlagos three times each?

          Throw in Monza and Suzuka and that’s what I call a calendar.

        4. Good idea Macca, the lottery itself would be an interesting PR event. I would include Canada on your list as well as it always seems to produce an exciting race.

          1. I never thought of it like that, thats a good idea. A live telecast of the track lottery. I would watch that.

    2. It was built on the right place – one must factor in the possibility of getting good gradient, camber, and bumps. Had it been built elsewhere, we might’ve gotten a flat circuit.

      BUT, the Turkish should’ve also built proper roads and accommodations near the site to grow a community in the area, or at least make it accessible.

  3. If there was cheap accommodation near the track, such as camp sites with facilities then it would be a GP I’d definitely look at. Cheap tickets and decent flights to Istanbul make it very attractive.

    1. Agree…..the only accomodation that is affordable is miles away in Istanbul, even then it is not as cheap as other places. Perhaps if there was a train link setup or even improved bus services!

    2. teeb123456789
      25th May 2010, 11:35

      maybe Turkey should be the European GP then if its cheap from everyone around Europe to get to, plus its better than Valencia.

      1. Ned Flanders
        25th May 2010, 11:43

        I think having the European GP located in Asia would be a bit of a no-no…

        1. teeb123456789
          25th May 2010, 11:51

          turkey’s in europe last time i checked ned :/ (unless i miss the point?)

          1. *Half* of Turkey is in europe ;)

          2. Ned Flanders
            25th May 2010, 12:05

            Nah, a tiny bit of Turkey is in Europe, but the vast majority (including the Istanbul circuit) is in Asia.

          3. Disagree with Ned. Geographically, Turkey is a part of Europe, since the actual “border” of Europe, so to say, goes all the way to Ural mountain chain in Russia. Technically, Turkey is definitely Europe, as they are vying for the membership of EU; play in European football leagues, participate in exclusively European sporting events, etc. In fact, vast majority of Turkey is European (except for the Kurdish strip in the Southeast).

            I definitely do agree with Kate that making Turkey a European GP will boost support for this venue indefinitely. Turks like to think that they are an integral part of Europe and would like it if their GP represents European motorsport. The only thing left to do will be to advertise that properly, with mottos likely to appeal to Turkish desires for Europe.

          4. Well Turkey is eligible geographically to be a part of the EU. The E stands for Europe.

          5. Ned Flanders
            25th May 2010, 13:45


            Turkey is 97% Asian. The Asian- European border is pretty clear: North of the Bosphorous is Europe, South is Asia. Trust me on this, I’m a Geography student! Coincidentally enough for the last hour I’ve been revising Turkish boundary disputes for an exam next week.

          6. @ Ned, well Ned you seem te be studying it pretty thoroughly!
            Maybe you can excell at the exam by getting into detail on the geographic aspects of the Turkish GP ;-)

          7. Turkey is part of europe AND asia. Istanbul is on the border, but the circuit is on the asian side. Shocking so few of you knew.

          8. Ned Flanders
            25th May 2010, 14:33

            BasCB- funnily enough I could well mention the Turkish GP in my exam. Remember the 2006 GP, when the Turkish Cypriot President handed out the winners trophy? Well that’s came up on my course as an example of an attempt to give international legitimacy to a disputed territory (eg Northern Cyprus). So, yes, I might well get to mention Felipe Massa in my exam!

          9. It’s a “line” drawn of a map. Symantics if you will.

          10. The Eurasian grand prix it is then :)

  4. Why is Bernie doubling his fees? Surly that is the cause of the failure of this track, GREED.

  5. A tough one this. It is important to have good tracks fill the calendar. However, at the same time, F1 should also be trying to put more effort into big markets with F1 following that are without a race; France, Argentina etc.

    Also, it seems a lot of the team personnel don’t like going to the race, at least based on the Renault F1 podcast.

  6. Magnificent Geoffrey
    25th May 2010, 11:26

    The big thing for me is, why has F1 failed to attract the crowds to Istanbul?

    There’s either something wrong with the product or there’s something wrong with the marketing of the product. You’d be forgiven to think that Formula 1 pretty much sells itself, for the most part. The world’s fastest road-course racing machines, the most advanced technology, arguably the world’s best drivers and the sheer history of the Formula 1 World Championship should be reasons enough to entice casual sports fans into checking their local Grand Prix out – be it live or on TV – but clearly this is not the case. Bernie wants to take advantage of developing markets to secure the long-term future for F1 – places like China, Turkey, Abu Dhabi and India, etc – but he seems to have a very short-sighted view that he could just turn up in all of these new places and everyone would experience Formula 1 motor racing up-close for the first time and would all fall in love with the sport just like that. However, this clearly hasn’t happened.

    If only 32,000 people turned up at last year’s Turkish GP, that same amount would fill roughly 1/3 of the seats at the Melbourne Cricket Ground – to put it in perspective. And It’s not just Turkey. Look at attendances in China, Bahrain and even Abu Dhabi last year. Where are all the fans? I know that it’s far more complicated an issue than I’m making it out to be but clearly someone, be it Bernie/FOM or the local organisers or both, is failing to generate enough excitement about the ‘premier racing series in the world’ to get people to come and watch the races in all these new places. The big thing for me is, until we can work out why F1 isn’t attracting the fans to the Abu Dhabi, Chinese, Malaysian and Turkish Grands Prix, why do we think they’ll come to the South Korean and Indian Grands Prix?

    1. Ned Flanders
      25th May 2010, 11:41

      I don’t think anyone really expects the crowds to turn up at any of these circuits. The only reason races are being held there is because they’re paying Bernie + CVC the $$$. The lack of spectators is the circuits’ problem, not F1’s, as it’s their only means of making money

    2. Two things – one, the point about publicity and marketing suggests the questions of who, in the grand scheme of things, should bear the brunt of marketing for GPs: FOM or local organisers?; two, I don’t see how lack of attendance at the venues you mention says anything about the potential of India and South Korea as F1 markets – they are all very different, socially and economically.

      1. Ned Flanders
        25th May 2010, 11:47

        Maybe, but if nobody bothers turning up at Malaysia, China, Bahrain, Turkey or Abu Dhabi, why would we expect them to do so in South Korea and India?

        I hope that South Korea will embrace F1 like Japan has done, but I’m not getting my hopes up. And though there does seem to be plenty of Indian F1 fans, I doubt many of them can afford to go to a GP every year

        1. Electrolite
          25th May 2010, 14:06

          I don’t think there are enough fans of F1 in Turkey, let alone the circuit. Sure, some people might go and watch just the the fun of watching the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’ but are there many hardcore f1 followers?

      2. Søren Kaae
        25th May 2010, 17:29

        Well, as far as I can see, the Jeonnam Circuit is situated in the middle og nowhere too. Although you might not think so, South Korea is quite a large country with a lot of smaller mountains, which makes transport by road a painfully long experience.

        And I do not see the airport close to the circuit…

    3. newnhamlea1
      25th May 2010, 18:18

      abu dhabi? that was a sell-out.

      1. Ned Flanders
        25th May 2010, 18:24

        1. I remember seeing a lot of empty seats at Yas Marina…

        2. The circuit only has a capacity of 40,000 anyway

        1. All the tickets were “sold”, but that includes a substantial portion of corporate freebies, many of which didn’t bother coming, hence the empty seats.

        2. It’s worth remembering that Turkey’s “terrible” attendance of 32,000 is probably about the same as Abu Dhabi’s “sell-out” attendance, when you factor in the people who didn’t use their seats in
          Abu Dhabi.

  7. Ned Flanders
    25th May 2010, 11:37

    It’s a nice circuit, but it’s still utterly soulless. And, unlike Singapore, Malaysia etc, I don’t see the event becoming popular in the future. Turkey is a lost cause, they seem to treat the race as a nuisance rather than an opportunity. I’d be happy to see it go for a better event

  8. touched on this issue in my blog…

    essentially this is clearly Bernie’s fault!!


    1. When will Bernie’s contract will end with the F1??

      1. currently a contract in place for 2011.. but nothing for 2012.

        A real shame, cos unlike Ned Flanders up there, forget what spectators do, the Istanbul track is one of the best racing circuits bar none. It’s right up there in my opinion with Monza, Spa, Silverstone etc as a genuinely classic layout. BUT – it’s in Turkey, and the turks don’t care, Bernie isn’t making enough money, so he’s ditching the race

  9. I agree that it would be a shame if this great track is lost, but I just can’t see F1 staying there much longer. The track was built in the wrong place, in a country that doesn’t care about F1 and the promoters haven’t done anything to change that. Charging exorbitant prices for other categories who went there for a race (DTM in 2005) didn’t help either. Now the F1 race is pretty much the only race there all year and most people in Istanbul propably aren’t even aware that the track exists!

  10. It is certainly one of the better Tilke tracks, but as Ned said above it is souless. It just goes to show that even if a circuit is amazing, without fans it doesn’t make the race good. If the race was promoted more, and had better facilities near it then it would probably attract more fans. But without that then I think F1 should go somewhere else.

  11. I adore this track. It’s not just the best modern track but one of the best tracks out of the calendar. The first sector and turn 8 are spectacular, the last part is mickey mouse but it’s there for some overtaking.

    Apparently in GP2 (and I have no idea why but Lee Mck wrote this) that Petrov brought some fans into the stands so hoepfully now he’s in F1 things will improve given time. I do think more could be done; lower prices, better advertising or even better dates for the locals plus the traffic is meant to be a nightmare. The stands are too far away from the track also.
    Fans give tracks some more passion but this track is so good I want it to be saved. I doubt it will just because track venues is a business and so many other places want to host a race. If it goes I would understand, it would be the easiest thing in the world to get rid of Istanbul but that doesn’t mean it should be axed. We complain of track standards these days but this is magnificent and just because doesn’t have the crowds yet (and mroe could be done on that front) some want it gone which I just don’t subscribe to.

    1. Might your feelings about this track have something to do with Massa winning it 3 in a row Steph?

      Great news, if Petrov can get some busloads of Russians to get in and set up camp, like the finnish fans have taken to Hungary in the past.

      Renault could make it a trip for their Dacia personell in Rumania as well as all other car manufacturers having plants in Turkey.
      And why not get some planes full of ethnic Turks from Germany and the Netherlands to make it an early holiday there, or just combine it with beach trip-packages that are really popular in the Czech Republic and Poland (as well as for Russians) of late.

      1. Yeah it is great that Felipe won there perhaps that influences me slightly but even when Massa was nowhere last year and the race was pretty dull I just loved watching the onboards at Istanbul. I really think it is beautiful and I still will if Ferraris get two DNFS and RBR get a 1-2 ;)

        I knew what you meant OEL :) I would save it for that too personally…just joking!

    2. And Felipe is king Istanbul Park. That shoud be enough to save the circuit, shouldn’t it? ;)

      1. I ment “king OF Istanbul Park”. Sorry.

  12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/6583387.stm
    Bernie seems to have shot himself in the foot with this one. All these “new-markets” to exploit and F1 seems to fail every time. Even given a great circuit like Istanbul Park, they still manage to screw it up.

    1. yep well, Bernie is often quoted as saying things which turn out to be rubbish, or just his mad rantings trackside.

      Real shame, cos even he admits and is “quoted” as saying it’s the best track in the world.

  13. I’m actually not that bothered if the GP goes. And, as good as Turn 8 is, I think the rest of the circuit is pretty uninspiring.

    1. grab yourself a copy of Race07, RaceDriver Grid, rFactor or any other modern racing game, jump in a WTCC car, and do a few laps of Istanbul – it’s an amazing circuit to drive – and all the drivers echo this year on year

      1. I have driven it on a few games, but I don’t like it. Other than Turn 8, you can find pretty much all of it’s features on other tracks. I know I’m in a minority, but I really wouldn’t miss it and I’d happily trade it for Magny-Cours.

  14. Andrew White
    25th May 2010, 13:00

    While I’m sad to see Turkey go, as it was one of Tilke’s better efforts, I’m glad it wasn’t one of the older venues that got cut. If India, Russia, USA and Rome join the calendar in the next few years three circuits will have to go.

    1. Why oh why should we have those new circuits? Rome will be the 4:th street circuit, which I think is just too much as none of them (apart from Monaco) are truly great (like Adelaide). We have a lot of great circuits on the calendar, and, as everyone is talking about the environment, building new circuits is not good for it.

    2. It hasn’t gone yet!

  15. Would be suprised to see if Turkey was still keen on hosting an F1 event if it was already a part of the EU. To me this is their attempt to show the world that it is a peaceful capable country in order to gain acceptance into the EU. Sorry Turkey, you’ll have to acknowledge Armenian genocides to get into the EU, not just host a 300km race.

    Not a bad track for one of the new ones. That said I wouldn’t lose any sleep if the event went to France or USA instead. I hope in my lifetime a GP is held at Laguna Seca.

    1. Hhhmmm… great track, but I don’t see an F1 car getting down the corkscrew too easily! :-)

    2. “I hope in my lifetime a GP is held at Laguna Seca.”

      Me too.

      And what’s with people like Nefer thinking F1 cars can’t make it down the corkscrew? In case you didn’t notice, Indy cars did it fine for years.

  16. the Sri Lankan
    25th May 2010, 14:11

    ill never miss it. having a Gp in turkey is as pointless as having one in mars

  17. I say I’d be ok if Turkey left the grid if Tilke recreated the track (or at least turn 8) at the next new track he designs. Then it wouldn’t even change the way I sleep at night.

  18. I can’t help thinking the hagiography of this circuit makes it sound like Indianapolis or another “flat” oval like Nazareth in Pennsylvania, Pocono or the Phoenix oval course—the oval tracks on which NASCAR “road specialists,” as they are labeled in that sport, traditionally excelled, becuase they emphasized true car control skills relative to the traditional heavily banked ovals. Perhaps Tilke should consider crafting a Pocono-like track built around two sets of multi-apex corners with some essess on one side. It wold be the anti-Monaco—a specialized track for speed. It would need healthy run-off, rather than cement walls, which should eliminate those horribly dangerous U.S. ovals, but it could be done. It may need special tires, but so what.

    In any event, this track should not be built in another dirt field in the middle of nowhere like the “Istanbul” track. Saying this track should remain because it has a great layout is like telling me there is a fabulous and incredibly affordable Michelin-starred bistro 100 miles outside of London or New York and only accessible by a combination of car, ferry, and helicopter.

  19. Hey, if the San Marino grand prix can be in Imola and the Luxemburg grand prix can be in Germany, then why don’t we scratch Hungary’s track and just call the Turkish grand prix the Hungarian grand prix instead? Draw all the Hungarian fans down there and we get to ditch one of the most abysmally boring races to boot.

    1. Haha, sounds like a plan! While we’re at it, Istanbul Park could even become Stefan GP’s home race :D

  20. I’ve been living in Istanbul for the last nine months and will be going to the race this weekend. Apparently there’s a shuttle bus that calls at the main square on the European side and also calls at the Asian side. I’ll let you know how I get on!

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