How F1 failed in Turkey

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Istanbul Park, 2005

The middle of nowhere: Istanbul Park

Eight years ago this month the Turkish Automobile and Motor Sports Federation (TOSFED) confirmed it had secured a place on the F1 calendar for 2005.

Within the space of those eight years, Turkey’s F1 involvement has come and gone. Its disappearance from the F1 schedule was confirmed by the publication of the 2012 F1 calendar yesterday.

How has F1 so conspicuously failed to establish itself in Turkey?

The race has not remained on the calendar beyond the duration of that original seven-year contract signed in 2003. It has clearly suffered from a lack of local interest.

At recent races, Formula One Management’s cameras have been aimed away from the deserted spectator areas. Some grandstands were covered over to hide the absence of spectators.

The location of the track, chosen by the promoters in consultation with Bernie Ecclestone, has been a key weakness. It might be called “Istanbul Park”, but it may well have been named by the same people who thought an airport just outside Bishop’s Stortford deserved the name ‘London Stansted’.

A coach ride from the city to the track takes in the region of two hours. And that’s assuming the driver doesn’t get lost on the way, as mine did when I visited in 2006.

Turkey’s race seems to have fallen victim to the short-sightedness of both the race promoters and FOM. It’s true the circuit offered some of F1′s cheapest ticket prices, but the country’s gross domestic product per capita is also among the lowest:

Turkey also showed the difficulty of importing F1 into a country with a limited motor racing culture. A glance at the circuit’s official website reveals little to nothing taking place at the venue on the 51 weekends when F1 isn’t in town.

Within three years of the track opening Moto GP, the World Touring Car Championship, German Touring Car Championship, Formula Renault 3.5 and various GT series all held races and then cut their ties with the venue.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Istanbul, 2008

Felipe Massa celebrates his hat-trick in 2008

The loss of the track will not just be felt by Felipe Massa, who scored three of his 11 career wins there. Drivers and fans alike will be disappointed by the loss of one of Hermann Tilke’s better – perhaps best – efforts at an F1 track.

Turn eight (was there ever a strip of track more worthy of a better name?) is surely the best corner built on any new F1 circuit in the last decade.

Istanbul Park proved a great venue for racing – even in dry conditions without DRS. No-one who has seen Lewis Hamilton’s storming drive through the field in the GP2 sprint race in 2006 will forget it.

Last year, a tense duel for the lead between the Red Bull drivers exploded as the pair tangled at high speed. Pity so few were there to see it.

If F1 is to make a success of new venues in India, America and Russia, it cannot repeat the mistakes it made in Turkey. It should not need pointing out that putting on a race in the middle of nowhere with little promotion, priced beyond the means of its potential audience, is not going to succeed.

Ultimately, someone has to take responsibility for ensuring F1′s new races succeed.

F1 Teams’ Association chairman Martin Whitmarsh showed the teams understand the problem when speaking at June’s Fans’ Forum: “I think what’s a worry is that we’re not doing enough.

“We talk about China, India, I think those are exciting markets, they’re markets [where] again, we can’t just have a race and come home. We’ve got to try harder.”

But it should not be the teams’ responsibility to promote the sport. It’s FOM and the race promoters who have fallen short and failed to gain a foothold for F1 in Turkey.

Start, Turkish Grand Prix, 2005

Kimi Raikkonen won the first Turkish Grand Prix

F1′s seven Turkish Grands Prix

2011 Turkish Grand Prix Vettel cruises to victory as the rest fight between themselves
2010 Turkish Grand Prix – McLaren take one-two as Red Bull hit self-destruct
2009 Turkish Grand Prix – Vettel?s mistake lets Button in for another win
2008 Turkish Grand Prix – Massa wins third consecutive race at Istanbul
2007 Turkish Grand Prix – Massa first as puncture stymies Hamilton
2006 Turkish Grand Prix – Maiden win for Massa
2005 Turkish Grand Prix – Raikkonen wins but Alonso limits damage

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Images ?? Tilke Gmbh, Ferrari spa, McLaren

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122 comments on How F1 failed in Turkey

  1. ToadyX said on 1st September 2011, 10:45

    In my opinion, there are much worse tracks that they could have removed than Turkey.

    Valencia is a dull track and needs to go.
    Barcelona was alright until they added that ridiculous end part of the track.
    Hungary (aside from the last two years) produces usually boring races.
    China (although I the track is alright) nobody turns up.

    I liked Turkey.

    • smifaye (@smifaye) said on 1st September 2011, 11:20

      Turkey is a great track but that’s not the way it works I’m afraid. It is such a shame to see Turkey off the calendar as I always enjoyed it as a track and the obvious turn 8 was just stunning.

      I remember reading/hearing that Turkey was actually proposed the other way around by Tilke and they switched it fairly late on.

      • ToadyX said on 1st September 2011, 12:17

        I know it’s not the way it works, it’s just a crying shame from my (and probably others) point of view as a fan. Especially when you look at China or Valencia.

        I can’t actually picturing it working that well the other way round. I have to say, too, Turkey is probably the only circuit Tilke has designed that I get any sort of joy from.

    • sato113 (@sato113) said on 1st September 2011, 14:42

      although races at the hungaroring aren’t usually exciting, it’s a great little track with a lovely atmosphere.

      • Gwenouille said on 1st September 2011, 15:46

        Absolutely !

        They should hire Populous and make some little tweeks here and there though. I don’t like turns 12 to 14 for instance…

    • f1geordie said on 1st September 2011, 16:10

      hungary is an excellent showcase of how average tracks can be made exciting by the enthusiasm and scale of the fans there

    • I disagree hugely about Hungary. It’s a beautiful track that never fails to create an exciting race.

      I really don’t understand how it’s got it’s reputation.

      In the post-Tilkedrome world I think that it is absolutely vital such beautiful tracks with such great atmosphere’s stay set in the calender.

      Cause Spa is only every second year now so obviously no track is safe.

  2. BasCB (@bascb) said on 1st September 2011, 11:08

    I fully agree it should be the local track, together with FOM that take the lead and coordinate teams activities to promote races in new places, or going back to circuits/countries for a second (or umpteenth in the US) try.

    I think that in Austin we will see the COTA taking an interest, as its really the only way they can succeed as a private bussiness (why wouldn’t that be possible for Spa?), and I would think that the Indian GP operator should be doing the same, even if that country is maybe so big they don’t need the locals, just call the billionair happy few in?

    But in general it almost seems like venues have little scope to do anything. And FOM is only interested in it if it actually brings CVC more income, I fear.

    So lets hope that in cases where neither FOM nor the locals take up the task, the teams will have enough sense in them to grab the market and build a local fanbase and sponsorship scope.

    • I couldn’t agree more with what you said. I don’t have much knowledge about the affairs in the US regarding the GP but the Indian one has two very big names attached to it. JP is a fairly huge developer and Airtel is pretty huge and successful too. Airtel know a thing or two about great marketing and I’d trust them in pushing this pretty well too. Judging from the ticket sales thus far, it seems to be working rather well. Those two will make sure that the GP is a success. Also, there’s no government involvement and that’s reassuring. Its privately funded and promoted and private initiatives in India have a major record of success.

      • India will be sure fire win for F1. There is a large fan base in India for F1 and the economic boom in recent years has spawned a reasonably wealthy middle class. With such a large population, the marketing would be aimed at the upper echelons of the community, which is more than enough to fill in the stands.

        India has the best Advertisement and Marketing industry in the world. Having been to India recently, I was quite amazed how good their marketing is. Airtel probably had the best advertisements and marketing…so I dont think they will have any issues with selling tickets.

        I see the Indian GP to become more successful than the Chinese GP.

        • Jay, I’m not sure about that. You saw in Keith’s chart that India’s GDP is the lowest of all F1 hosting countries. The ticket prices are just outrageous – more than Rs. 30,000 for a grandstand seat for the 3 days? And you think the race is gonna be successful? I was puzzled with the organizers claiming sold out success. I can’t believe there are people in their right mind who’ll pay that much.

          The only seats I could remotely afford is the natural stand – but costing around Rs 2500 for standing (or sitting) under the sun, I’m not going to make long trip from Kerala to Greater Noida.

          Keith, this is the opinion of an average Indian. It’s just not feasible to go and watch. It’s infinitely better to watch the race from the TV, as I’ll be doing. If things are like this I don’t see a long future for the Indian GP at all.

          It’s only going to leave a bad taste in the mouth and give rise to prejudiced opinions about motor racing. I mean, is it really far from the truth to call F1 “expensive entertainment?”

          • Rs 2500 is within an order of magnitude of a similar seating for Germany’s DTM, and Germany is a much richer country — that’s crazy!

    • It wouldn’t be possible because Bernie tried and failed at it at the turn of the millenium, partly due to high fees and partly due to abysmal access. The government has yet to show any sign of improving that access despite having had the race in its territory for many years, and why would it when the circuit can attract nearly as many attendees by hosting “lesser” series, which cost the government less or nothing?

      Any circuit that is expected to make a loss of millions to host a F1 race (i.e. most of them) cannot be expected to seriously undertake F1 as a business concern. What we have is a situation where everyone except the teams has any incentive to encourage tracks to stay on the calendar. For Belgium and Turkey alike, all the promotion in the world wouldn’t have helped because for both it came down to a combination of high fees (FOM’s department) and poor access (the government’s department). Sure, there wasn’t much desire, but there’s no point in promoting the desire if the people have no method of acting upon it that helps F1.

      • Oh, and with Turkey there was also a scheduling issue. Ever since it moved to May it clashed with university final exams. Many of the people who’d gone to F1 before that move were… …university students. Oops.

    • Icemangrins said on 1st September 2011, 18:18

      F1 is a global event and in order for a race event to be successful, it needs a combination of several factors regardless of how great any circuit is. Most of the circuits in Europe are easily reachable through road or any convenient modes of transportation. Given this accessibility, plus the passion the Europeans have for racing, plus the affordable cost make the F1 events successful. I guess this was underestimated in Turkey. I’m not sure if FOM or the local motor sports authority does an assessment if any country is suitable to host a racing event. Failure to find the right audience + lack of tourism + the refusal of Bernie to decrease the hosting charge is good enough to dump any racing event.
      If we take a look at the GDP statistics, it is critical and risky hosting races in the sub continent and the neighboring countries for the next 3 – 4 years. Before any Indian fans jump on me, I guess I already raised a point about this last week. The first year could be a huge hit due to the hype created. Let’s accept the fact – Indians fall head over heals for Cricket and the Cricketers. The maximum anyone has to shell out to watch a Cricket match from a decent seat is $250. For F1, the tickets are so expensive that an average earning person will have to save his 1 month pay to watch the race from grand stand.
      Bernie did acknowledge that F1 in India will not be as famous as Cricket… but eventually exceed the fan base. Hmmmm, but will Formula 1 still stay in the country?

      • Have you actually been to Istanbul Park? I would say no. If you did, you’d know most of the trip from Istanbul to the racetrack is a proper highway, while the rest is mostly 4 lane newly built road. People reading your comment are probably thinking your riding donkeys across the mountains. :)

        Te be honest, all this “middle of nowhere” thing is starting to be ridiculous. I don’t know if it started by someone based on their experience when things were not running smoothly or what?

        I must say it again: this year, the maximum you expected to travel from Istanbul city center (Hagia Sophia or Taksim) was 90 minutes on a shuttle costing 2eur in one direction. On Saturday morning I think it took me a bit more than an hour from Hagia Sophia to the track.

        Istanbul is a really nice city, much better than I expected. I think it was a great destination for F1 fans who wanted to do sightseeing for a couple of days and watch an F1 race live.

        • What I wanted to say with donkey thing is that people are probably thinking that one is supposed to ride a donkey to get to the track. My mistake in spelling/grammar.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 1st September 2011, 20:27

          LOL at the donkeys!

          I think what got Hungary fixed as a great place to go were the mass visit from mainly finnish fans in the ’90s that kept going all the way until the polish fans started taking over their place in 2009/2010. This made it a fun place to go. And it was great to combine that with a visit to exiting Budapest

          Had someone in F1 had the foresight to actually organise big organised summer holliday trips from several european cities to the track, it might have grown into just that kind of thing as well.

          Surely the move to May did not help, as Turkish students stopped going and who goes on holiday in May?

        • Interesting. All the stories I heard were 2-3 hours (assuming the local driver didn’t get lost, and several did) due to the rush hour. That’s the effect rush hour has in Istanbul (and other large cities with bottlenecks, to be fair).

          • Zoran said on 2nd September 2011, 8:48

            As I said, I was leaving Istanbul slightly before 10am on both Saturday and Sunday and didn’t travel longer than 1.5 hours. I assume if you left Istanbul later you’d probably experience worse traffic conditions. Having a hotel on Asian side would solve traffic problems in this case.

            The only real traffic jam I experienced was after the race, which was expected. Nothing more dramatic compared to e.g. when I was stuck in a field next to Hungaroring for 45 minutes while trying to merge into traffic going through unpaved roads behind the track. :)

          • Zoran, by the sound of it a lot of journalists and team members, let alone fans, needed to speak to you about how you managed to get in and out of Istanbul so quickly…

      • Icemangrins,

        Formula 1 will stay in India, in the worst nightmares of the organizers!

  3. I don’t think that the fact the track is in the middle of nowhere is a big problem. Silverstone is 1.5h from London, Spa is 1.5h from Brussels and Istanbul park is 1.5h from Istanbul (at least it was this year). I think the bigger problem is that there are no countries close to Turkey from where fans could come, like in Europe. E.g. Hungaroring has solid attendance because a lot of countries in Europe are close to it. Heck, I went to Hungaroring and one of the reasons was it’s only 200km drive.

    What was the attendance in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Korea? As far as I know, there’s only 50.000 seats in Abu Dhabi, but no one is speaking about low attendance, because Abu Dhabi could pay for the race even with no spectators. Turkey doesn’t have oil to pay for the race.

    I’m glad I went there this year. Paid only 120eur for last corner grandstand (general admission was only 30eur).

    Sad to see the race go…

    • Yes, it’s all about the money, like the song says. Even if the attendance was great, I still doubt that Turkey would have the money to pay the fee.

      Part of that is purely economic related, but there’s also the lack or racing roots in this otherwise beautiful tourist destination.

      I’m sad to see Turkey off (so are Red Bull, arguably), as I live in Bulgaria, and we are neighbors – I could have opt for airplane or simply drive with my car there.

    • AdrianMorse said on 1st September 2011, 11:44

      Spa is 1.5h from Brussels

      From what I understand from the recent discussion on the Spa-Paul Ricard alternation, Spa’s remote location is a problem with regard to attendance, and this is my own experience as well.

      Last year I went to the Belgian Grand Prix with my brother, and although I had a terrific weekend, finding accommodation was difficult. We didn’t fancy camping much (especially in ‘Spa weather’), so we looked for hotels. When we started our search in early spring (I believe), all we could find were 150-euro-per-night rooms, with a minimum stay of three days, sometimes even five. In the end we stayed in Maastricht, 60km and 45mins away, and still had to pay 90 euros per night because hotels in the Netherlands are rarely cheap.

    • Silverstone is 1.5h from London… …and about 25 minutes’ bus from Northampton, which has a direct train from London and several other major cities.

      Spa has attendence problems, which contributed to its having to share its race from 2013. Istanbul’s attendence problems have contributed to it being dropped for 2012.

      The track doesn’t need to be near the place from which the spectators originate but it does need to be near a good network hub. Not everyone is inclined to drive, and that goes double for a place like Istanbul where the main brige in the city can take an hour to cross in rush hour (that’s the bridge, not the city as a whole) and not many people seem to know any alternative routes.

      Bahrain’s capacity is below 50,000, Abu Dhabi’s is 50,000. They’re being funded by the government, hence there was so much trouble about the Bahrain race this year (if a private company had paid for the race the cancellation would have come much sooner).

      Korea had a high attendence – the quoted figure was 80,000, which would put several European venues to shame – but a lot of the people were late coming in due to poor ticket processing procedures and some people not realising they were holding fake/invalid tickets.

      I wanted to go to Turkey but couldn’t see a reasonable and reliable way of getting from the airport to the circuit, which put me off.

      • There’s a shuttle service from many parts of Istanbul that take fans to the track. It costs around 2eur one-way. It was around 1.5hr drive from Istanbul city center to the track. This was on Saturday and Sunday around 10am, and then after qualifying and after the race. The biggest problem was getting a seat after the race. But, you could jump right into the first bus leaving the track if you didn’t mind standing or sitting on the floor, which many did.

        For me personally connection to the track is not bad at all. I remember in Monza, you had to leave your car kilometers from the track, then walk like 500m, then wait 10 minutes for a bus, then ride for 10 minutes, then walk another 20 minutes through the park and the track (I was at the far end of the track though). So, when you consider the time spent to get to the track, Monza isn’t that great either. At least in Istanbul you have a bus which takes you around the track. In Monza you have to walk everywhere, which can take a lot of time…

      • TED BELL said on 1st September 2011, 16:12

        It seems to me that attendence at the vast majority of all races is down, enough to notice many empty spots in grandstands.

        Outside of F1 I see it NHRA events, Sportscar and even at many of the Cup races. I wonder how much of this factor is economy driven or does it reflect the crazy ticket prices that promoters request. I guess it is all the same thing.

        Not all race fans have unlimited budgets and some ticket prices take the ability to go, out of the question.

        Even hear in America I can’t afford to take my family to a Baseball game because of the high cost of parking, game tickets , food and maybe a item of memorabilia or so.

        It takes money to make it happen and money to bring the mases. At some point the weight of the money becomes a burden for all sides.

        • Are the Ticket prices really that bad?

          For me to go I’m looking at ~$400 for the full four days. or $200 just for Sunday.

          No, they aren’t cheap, but what is anymore?

          Going to the movies will set you back $50, that’s last about 2 hours. With the 4 day pass the F1 is effectively $100 a day. So I ask myself, is the F1 weekend worth double what the movies are? Yes of course it is.

          But here’s the kicker.
          That’s from a fans perspective. For an F1 fanatic, F1 tickets are worth it. But what about my delusional non-fanatic friends? Are the prices affordable for them? Without it planned into your budget as an F1 nut would have, $400 for F1 is a huge expense. So I think that’s the crux of the attendance problem. Most people that have the money to spare would rather buy some more shoes (weird people) or another Playstation game and there simply aren’t enough hardcore fans who can go to make up the numbers. Most countries don’t have the fan base the Britain has. Or the fanaticism that Monza attracts.

          F1 has to attract the casual event going audience as well. And that’s why it’s vital to have music and other attractions as well as effective use of advertising and promotion, (Well done Melbourne). Otherwise people will not even consider it.

          • Zoran said on 2nd September 2011, 8:53

            I think Istanbul is a nice city to visit. That’s what I did: 4 days in Istanbul, 2 days of sightseeing, 2 days of F1. I could have stayed longer. If I wasn’t as hard core F1 fan as I am, I’d probably just buy general admission ticket which was only 30eur.

            Some average salary info I found for Istanbul is around 800eur. To be honest, I thought it’s lower. If this is really an average salary (some from Turkey please confirm), then I can’t see how 30eur could be expensive. Even 120eur for an average grandstand ticket is not out of reach.

    • cduk_mugello (@cduk_mugello) said on 1st September 2011, 12:13

      Exactly right mate. Was about to write something similar.

    • Location is everything. In the United Kingdom, Silverstone isnt that far from major cities, there is good infrastructure for people to get there and facilities are good overall.

      The Turkish GP doesnt really enjoy it. It’s not so densely populated as the United Kingdom. Most of it’s population are reside on the coasts, of which many are on the south and west coasts. In 2004 I spoke with a hotel owner who worked on the south coast and he said that although he loved F1 (as did a large portion of the population of Turkey) there would be several factors which would mean it is doomed:

      1) Price and fees. Whilst it maybe cheap for Western Europeans to go to Turkey to watch a GP in Turkey and have a holiday whilst their at it, it isnt for the locals. As the article mentions, GDP per capita in Turkey is extremely low compared to other races. Local interest is there, the money isnt. The cost of tickets is affordable for a typical British fan, but not in Turkey.

      2) Time of year. As I have alluded, the bloke I spoke to runs a hotel on the South Coast. In Turkey many hotels and businesses run from March to October, aka their tourist season. Much of the population heads south which means those that might have been able to afford to go arent in the area and cannot afford to close up for a weekend for fear of losing vital trade. Unfortunately March to October is the typical time in which a GP season runs, certainly the European leg of it!

      3) Location. As the article also states, it’s miles from Istanbul. If it was closer to the city people might be more interested. Some sort of demo run by the teams in the week leading up to the race might get the locals more in to the sport.

      4) Infrastructure. The major roads in Turkey are generally ok (a little hair rasing at times though…!), but it would seem that poor signage and lack of decent roads to the track put some people off. There is little in the way of high standard of accomadation near to the track (within one hour) which can only put off big investors and sponsers. People dont want to travel long miles to sign cheques and contracts. The less hassle the better!

      Just a few reasons there, anyhow. It’s a shame that this track is now confined to computer gaming history. It’s hard to see a future for it now given how little it has been used. It’s also difficult to imagine F1 returning to Turkey given how congested the calender already is. A shame, but at the end of the day, money matters above all else, even us, the fans.

      • Zoran said on 2nd September 2011, 8:59

        I would have thought 30eur for general admission ticket is not that expensive even for average Turkish citizen.

        I agree with the lack of signage to the track but I don’t agree that there’s a “lack of decent roads to the track”. Most of the trip is on a proper highway, then you go through some smaller town (4 lanes though) then it’s newly built 4 lane road all the way to the track. When did you go to Istanbul park when you believe there are no decent roads to the track?

        Regarding your comment that people are leaving Istanbul at the beginning of May to work on the coast: Istanbul metro area is home to 13 million people. I would have thought some of those 13 million have full time jobs in Istanbul and don’t depend on working as seasonal workers in tourism. To me Istanbul didn’t seem deserted when I was there this year. Plenty of people who might have gone to the race.

        • I didnt say the whole city just descends southwards during the tourist city, but a fairly large portion do.

          Also, for some 30euros is a lot. As a Turkish commentator has posted later in this thread, for a family of four that’s 120euros straight away. He also posted on how expensive the food and merchandise is on the track. He suggested that a family might pay 500 Turkish Lira at a track just to attend the race and buy lunch. This is a lot for the average Turkish family.

          Furtheremore, I didnt say the roads were poor, just not as good as other tracks, which have many motorways or large roads to transport fans, teams and journalists from many different directions.

          Finally, I didnt say that the whole of Instanbul just floods south during the summer months, but a good portion of the population do. You also assume that everyone in Istanbul can afford to attend the race, which relates back to the pricing issue. You also assume that every citizen in Istanbul is interested in F1 and would attend. That’s like saying everyone in Melbourne is interested in F1 and will attend the race.

          • I assume 30eur is a lot for some in Turkey. I was just pointing out that there is a base for solid attendance, with such a large city and cheap tickets compared to other European races.

            Regarding prices, they are a rip-off, as on other racetracks. But, if you plan ahead, you don’t have to buy anything at the racetrack. E.g. I bought my own food and drinks. So no need to pay those crazy prices at the track.

            I agree taking a whole family to a race is probably expensive. But for average single F1 fan I think it’s not that bad.

            To be honest, I’m pretty puzzled why there where not more people. If I had to guess, I would say they are not that interested. Or it might be what you’re saying, that even 30eur per person is too much. Distance my be one factor. I was analyzing all factors from a perspective of a hard core F1 fan, which I am. For average person, maybe 1.5hr drive is too long and 30eur too much…

          • Distance isnt too much for a hardcore fan. I travelled just under 5 hours by coach from where I live to watch the British GP weekend in 2008, but there are people from the closest village who arent too bothered, even casual fans.

            There are so many factors contributing to F1′s failure in Turkey. We can blame the lack of attendence, but there are futher and deeper underlying reasons for why it failed.

          • Nazlı said on 3rd September 2011, 0:12

            Thats what i am talking about, 1.5 hours drive and 30 or 100 euros shouldnt be a disaster for a “fan”. And as James says they are more deeply reasons. Whatever… both Turkey and F1 have loss.

  4. After all, this is a business, a big one. As history shows us, a good product is often not good enough, marketing plays a huge role in whether it becomes a screaming success or a dismal failure. Turkey was a fantastic race track but the lack of interest in the locality and poor effort on the part of the promoters spelled its doom. FOM never does anything anywhere that can be called promotion of the sport or marketing. They leave it almost entirely up to the promoters or if anyone else is interested (maybe broadcasters or sponsors or a “home” team or a team that happens to have a driver from there). That needs to change. FOM has been stuck in the 80s in this regard and that’s beginning to hurt. Change is much needed, especially in the current economic conditions and with a second recession looming over Europe, which happens to be a central part of F1.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 1st September 2011, 11:28

      I think early visitors reporting how far you are from the action did a lot to harm its popularity amongst fans.

      The track is great, but it was one of those examples of abundant runoff that were at the time ruining the visitor experience a lot.

      • Abu Dhabi? Sure Istanbul was better than that!

        • The Abu Dhabi government paid to make their country look good to boost tourism all year round, not necessarily just to get people in for the one weekend. If nobody came to the race but 500,000 more people came in the weeks and months afterwards because the place looked good on TV, it would consider its mission complete.

      • Zoran said on 2nd September 2011, 9:03

        Grandstand next to last three turns of the circuit are close to the track. Also, there’s a gap in the fence so you can take really nice photos of cars going through turn 12 without having to shoot through the fence. You’re some 40m from the track at that point (just measured it in Google maps).

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 2nd September 2011, 4:36

      Bernie doesn’t pay for anything, he charges for everything.

  5. dmcobern (@dmcobern) said on 1st September 2011, 11:24

    Another fail buy the guys who run this sport.
    Dropping half decent tracks and keeping some of the worst in a bid to make as much money as possible.
    Sure turkey wasnt the greatest track, but it did supply some decent races.

    • Its still beyond me why Spain has two races, one of them being the awful Valencia, while Belgium and France have to alternate. Doesn’t Spa have enough history, attachment and regard to warrant some special deal? All this money grubbing is really hurting the sport. They really don’t care a monkey’s about the fans, as evident from the Sky deal and dropping of good tracks and working out of their way for something like Bahrain!

      Bernie has to go.

      • Bernie doesn’t do special deals or, apparently, long-term thinking.

      • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 1st September 2011, 14:03

        Spain technically has one race, the other is the European GP, which was in the UK a couple of decades ago.

        Spa has history, but history is a subjective term. If you give Spa a special deal then you’re going to wing up Silverstone who just signed a 17 year deal. You can’t make arbitrary exceptions.

        The Sky deal is not good for the UK, but there are many countries in the world who have had to ‘put up with’ premium TV services for F1 in the past. The BBC is publicly funded so has a certain obligation to the tax-payer to display value for money.

        There is always more to these deals than meets the eye.

        • TED BELL said on 1st September 2011, 16:32

          My cable system in the Pacific Northwest costs me $200 a month. Sure it for the computer, phone and all of what can be seen on TV,but I have to have it to see F1. So to see three days of race coverage for every Grand Prix is in picking two grand out of my wallet every year and I have to get up at 4AM to watch most races. Yeah it is expensive and I live in an area so far away from any GP that seeing it live is beyond what I can do. The new USGP is only four days of driving from here.
          So for the present I am at the mercy of the cable operator and they have a firm grip on both of them. What choice do any of us have? I want to see F1 and will pay what I have to pay

          • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 1st September 2011, 20:46

            Wow, credit to you, that’s dedication.

            I feel very much the same, this sport goes beyond a hobby for me, I need to fuel .

          • if you can afford it there is no problem, but here in Turkey people really have problems with ticket prices. no one- i mean really no one- can afford 2 grand for one race. because you can not earn money easily here in Turkey like in US mate. 2 grand??? Most people don’t earn this much money in a month… So how can they afford to watch the race on the track? even with extremely low ticket prices, it costs a lot because of food etc..

  6. KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 1st September 2011, 11:44

    Reading this, I couldn’t help but laugh slightly..

    Istanbul Park proved a great venue for racing

    Of course, it can’t have been! It’s a common known fact that tracks that Tilke designs are boring and rubbish!

    Or are they? I can only think of one track that Tilke has designed for F1 in recent years that doesn’t meet the standards… Valencia..

    It’s a shame, I like tracks like Turkey and China almost as much as I like Silverstone, Monza, Spa and Monaco.. I’d certainly have wanted to go and see F1 there..

  7. Too bad F1 failed to deliver in Turkey as the track is amazing, city is great to visit and it has provided a few entertaining races over the years.
    I was in general admission in 2010 and it was obvious that locals aren’t attending because they couldn’t afford the tickets. It’s a shame since there were hundreds of Russian, Bulgarian, Spanish and British fans. A British fan with whom I was riding back to the city in a coach after the race said it was cheaper for him to pay for airplane, accommodation and tickets in Istanbul then to attend a home race in Silverstone. Sadly, only the fear of losing the race lead to comparatively cheaper tickets as race promoters are constantly struggling to finance the race (except Monaco of course).

    • you’re right because 1 pound equals to 3 Turkish Lira! so it makes sense to come to Turkey to watch the race… so lets say they pay 100 Pound for a silver ticket, but we have to pay at least 600 TL for a Silverstone ticket! that’s the difference…

  8. OEL F1 said on 1st September 2011, 12:06

    One of the greatest circuits in the world will never be raced at again, and no more will any Formula 1 car go through THE greatest corner in the world. Sad news :(

    • beneboy (@beneboy) said on 1st September 2011, 16:47

      The greatest corner in the world ?

      I know this is a subjective assesment but even so, have you never seen Eau Rouge at Spa, R130 at Suzuka, the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca or the legendary Carousel at the old Nurburgring ?

      Personally I think they’re all better corners than Turn Eight, which was good but had so much run-off around it that you could take it virtually flat out, safe in the knowledge that if you got it wrong the worst that would happen is you’d run wide and lose a few tenths of a second.

      Istanbul is the best of the Tilke tracks but in reality all that means is that it’s the best of a very bad bunch of tracks; none of which come close to being proper race tracks and almost all of which I’d like to see dropped from the F1 calendar.

      I’d rather go to the car park at The Caesars Palace in Vegas than go to a Tilke track !

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 1st September 2011, 18:44

        Beneboy,agreed, all except that last sentence, I am sure it was hyperbole but Bernie might take you seriously.

        • beneboy (@beneboy) said on 1st September 2011, 19:50

          There was quite a bit of tongue in cheek with the last sentence but the more I think about it the better it sounds; at least with a race in the car park of a Vegas casino you’d be able to walk to the track quite quickly if you were staying on the strip and there’s also the whole of Vegas to keep you entertained for the rest of your stay ;-)

  9. streetfightingman said on 1st September 2011, 12:18

    Together with Sepang, Istanbul Park definetly was Tilke’s best track! A shame bad planning will make us forget about it…

  10. Roald (@roald) said on 1st September 2011, 12:38

    Still, Ecclestone was a huge fan of Istanbul Park himself, he called it the greatest racing track on the face of the earth didn’t he? But if no one seems to be interested, why keep trying?

    I said it before and I’ll say it again… It was a nice circuit, but it’s very much replaceable, unlike tracks like Spa and Silverstone.

  11. joseph said on 1st September 2011, 12:44

    why should circuit attandance be so important

    I thought F1 was a TV event

    • Roald (@roald) said on 1st September 2011, 12:54

      It is for the most part, but don’t be naive; F1 wouldn’t even exist if there was no money to be made, as with most other things in life. It’s an expensive sport, and everyone and everything needs to be paid for. We’d be looking at homemade bathtubs with wheels attached if there was no money involved whatsoever… if any constructor/driver would even be willing to participate, that is.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 1st September 2011, 13:00

      You are in effect right but for the circuit organiser his only income comes from ticket sales and from those ticket sales income he has to pay the poison dwarf tens of Millions of dollars for the right to have a race and hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain and staff the circuit.

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 1st September 2011, 13:03

      Joseph,
      attendance is vitaly important to the track because that is their prime income stream. TV fees, track advertising revenues all go to the Commercial Rights Holder, not to the circuit.
      So whatever they are charged for the race – $10m, £20m – has to be found from gate receipts, parking charges and on-site concessions . . or state support.

      It wasn’t just that F1 failed Turkey, more like motorsports in general failed there. In 2005, the WTCC first went to Istanbul Park and despite the fact that there was a Turkish driver (Erkut Kizilirmak in team GR Asia), there was a little local media interest and but low track attendance. WTCC lasted there just one more year with less local interest and never returned.
      WRC seems to have fared only a little better. The Rally of Turkey was a WRC round last year, but it doesn’t appear on the 2011 schedule.
      I just don’t think the population of Turkey is that interested in motorsport.

    • TED BELL said on 1st September 2011, 23:54

      Many of us have to see the races via TV but for those who can go to an event it is perhaps the single greatest test of your bodys senses. The sight, the sound and the thought that people are actually driving these machines makes for quite a human experience. My words can’t do this factor justice, it is something that has to be experienced live and at a track that allows the beasts to run as they were meant to.

  12. HoHum (@hohum) said on 1st September 2011, 12:51

    Would someone from Turkey please tell me about the TV coverage of F1 in Turkey, is it free to air ? is it broadcast live at a convenient viewing time? or is it on a premium pay channel?

    • themagicofspeed (@) said on 1st September 2011, 17:35

      I read a comment on another article about this, they say F1 is free to air in Turkey.

    • Mahir C said on 1st September 2011, 18:58

      It was always on free to air TV, but for many years it was shown on fringe channels rather than mass ones like BBC1 etc. I think in 2009 state TV TRT began to show it.
      I dont know about the viewership figures though, I live abroad since 2008.

    • Nazlı said on 1st September 2011, 22:31

      It is free to air and it is live on state channel TRT. We are pleased about broadcast. But i dont know about future, state tv probably wont take the broadcast rights anymore because of dropping from calender, and it will be more expensive. I hope some fringe TV take it, but i also dont think they will.

    • yeah it’s free, every one can watch it live, exactly on time! but the future is not clear, because of the race is gone, there is a possibility of no broadcasting or no TV coverage. this is the last year of TRT (the broadcasting channel) and we don’t know if there is goning to be any next year. we juest have to wait and see…

  13. John Edwards said on 1st September 2011, 13:16

    It’s very sad.

    Its a fantastic race track, a genuine modern classic where drivers can actually race, the viewing is superb and lots of action.

    I didn’t find getting to the track this year was that bad, you just need to pick a decent shuttle service.

    I think in a country with no motorsport heritage you were always onto a loser.

    You have to question why do they keep expanding into new markets when the old market guarentees interest. I.e. Why do they race in front of 12 people at a camel park Bahrain when you could be at Imola?

  14. JohnBt said on 1st September 2011, 13:46

    When money is lost continuously in business it’s only logical to stop losing even more.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 1st September 2011, 14:15

      Exactly. The problem with sport is that people develop emotional ties so it’s always harder to let go, despite what the facts are telling you.

      • beneboy (@beneboy) said on 1st September 2011, 16:56

        Personally I think the problem with sport is that it’s become a business and this means that unless there’s an opportunity to make millions of dollars no-one is interested.

        This circuit could have been kept on the calendar without anyone making a loss had the teams and Bernie been less greedy; but then that would mean F1 going back to being a proper racing series instead of a multinational corporate business and that would mean the teams would be unable to waste tens of millions of pounds on media centres, corporate rubbish, six figure salaries for their senior employees ad all of the other stuff they waste money on these days.

        • John Edwards said on 1st September 2011, 17:03

          As much as I agree with your sentiment. If nobody turns up to watch the race just isn’t viable no matter how good the track is.

          Well, any track in the REAL WORLD.

          Abu Dhabi etc are not in the real world.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 2nd September 2011, 4:48

            I suspect that the TV rights alone would cover the cost of racing ( how do they pay for Monaco ) but of course not the millions that Bernie needs to feed his family.

          • JohnBt said on 2nd September 2011, 7:17

            Can you imagine Eric Clapton performing for 10 people. Ask Mark Webber.

        • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 1st September 2011, 20:50

          The irony is though that the more popular an event and ultimately a sport becomes the more resources (money) it needs to survive. Everyone has sponsors to satisfy and bills to pay.

  15. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 1st September 2011, 14:14

    This certainly makes for grim, but unsurprising reading.

    It seems to me that while many of the problems about the Turkish GP aren’t unique to Istanbul Park, added together they make it a disaster. Spa hardly strikes me as the most accessible of locations but has the history. Attendance in the Middle East could be better, but they have the money to subsidise it.

    Istanbul Park doesn’t strike me as a circuit that could revive itself in the future either. Geographically you can’t move it. The problem with a lack of motorsport heritage is only compounded by the fact that they’ve just lost their F1 GP. An economic solution is the best, but if you’re selling something people don’t miss then it’s not even worth trying.

    • TED BELL said on 1st September 2011, 16:50

      The USGP at Indy also had a short life but the track itself is still ripe with many other events and has much history. I think F1 died there because the design of the track had so many dissapointing areas. The infield part of the track was so boring and could have been much more interesting. There was room to create a much better race track, worthy of F1 but instead it became nothing more than a Scalex like slot car track with common corners and short straights. The tire fiasco pulled the trigger on its ultimate demise but the overall layout was just uninteresting.

      The smart guys at COTA realised this and are producing a race course that people will want to see and drivers will want to challenge.

      If you invest in and make something that people will want to see, they will come and spend. When it works for all sides then it will become profitable. I think Turkey just missed on part of the equation, now it is gone.

    • John Edwards said on 1st September 2011, 17:05

      It’ll go to dust. Pretty much the biggest white elephant ever.

      • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 1st September 2011, 20:55

        Hurts to hear that. I really do love that circuit.

        • TED BELL said on 2nd September 2011, 0:00

          I agree it is a great circuit, a fair test of man and machines. I wonder if the very same track at another, better location in the world would still be on the calender? The problem I believe is that its Turkey…who goes to Turkey??

          • just come here mate, you’ll see there is no problem with us…

          • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 2nd September 2011, 7:28

            Its quite a popular destination for UK tourists, just not for motorsport. The circuit strikes me as being to far removed.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 2nd September 2011, 21:58

            A lot of people go to Turkey for a holiday! Great amounts of Russians, Germans, UK, Dutch and Polish, Czech, Hungarians etc, not to forget quite a big amount of people of Turkish origin who live abroad get over there in the summer.

            It has nice beaches, offers good trips into the countryside (for those who do not want to be baked on the beach for 2-3 weeks) and is relatively cheap.

            I think that had the track been closer to popular tourist destinations, it would have been far easier to get a nice package together to have packed grandstands.

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