Istanbul Park – spectators’ experiences

Tell us about your experiences of visiting Istanbul Park in Turkey.

You may wish to include:

  • When you visited the track
  • Where you watched from
  • How easy it was to get to
  • How much of the track you could see
  • What support races there were
  • What you liked and didn’t like
  • How much it cost and whether it was good value

Please use the reply box below to leave your comments.

Are you going to the 2011 Turkish Grand Prix? Chat with other F1 fans who are going to the race here: 2011 Turkish Grand Prix discussion

83 comments on Istanbul Park – spectators’ experiences

  1. Pointer said on 27th May 2010, 8:23

    Just found out that there is no pitlane walk today, but there is a “signing session on Saturday at the vending area”.

  2. Bjorn said on 1st June 2010, 14:00

    Since I´ve been active in this thread with alot of questions I figure I could share some facts now that I´ve been to the Istanbul race.

    The race and track is just awsome. I had seats in curve 8 (silver 8) and that was where most of the action was. That was where the Vettel / Webber incident was. From this stand you see the cars slow down from the backstraight and then make 3 turns. The first turn is a great passing opportunity. You then see the cars accelerate on the straight towards the finishline. From certain parts of the stand you see into the pitstraight although it is far away and you are going to need binoculars to really appreciate what is going on in the pits. Also the big screen in this stand is acctually not so big. You need binoculars to see names and times. Not seeing this was especially frustrating during qualifying session. Bring binoculars if you are going to buy tickets for silver 8.

    The F1 village was really boring. You buy your uberexpensive teamwear there and that is pretty much all. They had some simulaters there but you are way better of buying xbox 360 with a forcefeedback steering wheel and forza motorsport 3 (or the new f1 game due this year).

    The tranportation to and from the track worked well. there are busses going all friday, saturday and sunday from taksim square. Just be there in the morning and there will be busses there. The cost is 5 turkis lira with is appx 2,5 EUR one way. You pay the busdriver, bring exact change for both trips, they might try to rip you off otherwise. In a way they rip you off even if you have 5 TL. The charge is acctually 4,5tl but the driver wont let you on board the bus if you dont round off the 5 TL. I tried to pay exactly 9 TL but he refused to let me on…

    The most of the busses are airconditioned and the drive is about an hour and a half from taksim square to Istanbul park.

    On the way home you just go back to the place you got dropped off outside the arena and there will be lots of busses waiting to take you and the other spectators back to Istanbul. Just make sure you get on the right bus as there are several destinations served by these busses back to Istanbul.

    When waiting in line for the bus there will be alot of taxidrivers approaching you to try to convince you to go with them instead of bus. There is really no good reason to take a taxi unless you really dont want to wait in line for appx half an hour. If you take a taxi you shouldn´t pay more than 10 TL per person or 40 TL for the trip (one way of course, I dunno how it works to take a taxi back to istanbul)

    There are alot of taxidrivers

  3. I have just returned from the race (my first ever) and here are some of my experiences.
    Transportation is very well organized with shuttles leaving as they are full from various spots around town (Attaturk Airport, Sultanahmet, Taksim square, Asian side). Buses don’t stop at each of this spots but rather go directly to the track which speeds up the journey.
    We heard horror stories about 3-hour rides to the track so we went to the buses around 9:30 am but the ride was really fast and it took us only hour and a half to get to Istanbul Park and there were no traffic jams at all. We were situated at Sultanahmet and the buses were leaving right next to Sultanahmet tram station in front of the tourist information office. On website it said one-way fare costs 4,5 turkish lira (payable in cash or with Akbil) but they rounded it up to 5 lira on Sunday.
    We had booked tickets in advance and there were separate ticket collection points so we managed to skip the lines.
    Merchandise stands were horrible – Ferrari and McLaren had their own stands and there were 5 or 6 official Formula 1 store stands which were supposed to carry merchandise from teams. I say supposed to since all they had were Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Renault merchandise. I was hoping to buy a Williams cap but there weren’t any, in fact from Williams I found (and I went through all merchandise stands) a mousepad from 2 seasons ago, last years Rosberg’s car model and a last years team shirt which costed 70€ which I couldn’t afford. Other teams were also badly represented, for example I saw only a few Mercedes t-shirts and nothing at all from Torro Rosso,Lotus,Virgin,Sauber (there were stuff with BMW badge).

    There were free buses which rode around the circuit and stopped at each grandstand so getting around circuit was easy. Food and drink were seriously overpriced and there could have been more stands, toilet facilities were good,big and clean – much better then I expected.
    We had general admission tickets and we chose to sit at turn 9 where there was a view of the bigscreen. There is no run-off area there so we were really close to the track and cars and we could see them decelerate after turn 8, going into the tight left-hander and then accelerating over the hill to back straight. It was also a decent overtaking opportunity and we saw several overtakes which weren’t on TV (only Hulkenberg on Trulli and Barrichello on Hulkenberg were shown).
    The race was amazing – until I saw it taped I wasn’t sure was it because I was seeing it live but it seems it was good even on TV.
    It seems we have good races when I go to the track so if you want to watch interesting races I’m accepting donations since this trip exhausted me financially :D

    The return trip took a bit more since everybody was trying to leave the track at the same time.There were plenty of buses which were leaving to various destinations (including airport, I saw somebody asked about that). At first a lot of people were cutting lines so things were a bit hectic but police established a single file line really soon so things went smoothly from there. It took around 2 hours to get back to our starting point at Sultanahmet but that was because of the traffic jam between the track and the highway.

    On this link you can find my pictures from Istanbul including some from the race. Cars were too fast for my slow camera so I only managed to catch a few of the cars in action.

    http://picasaweb.google.com/gabalus/Istanbul#

  4. Linda said on 13th June 2010, 13:03

    I went to the Turkish Grand Prix as well, and I will echo everything Gabal has said.

    The track is fantastic and the transportation to and from the circuit is one of the easiest I have come across, very well organised, all had signs showing where they were going and plenty of buses. Cheap too!

    We stayed in Kadikoy which was a bit rubbish, we didnt see any other fans during the whole weekend and being 2 women on our own with did get a bit of unwelcome hassle that I’ve never had at a race before.

    We had the Gold grandstands which I was glad of because of the heat (they were covered) but in terms of viewing werent fantastic. Platinum had lots of empty spots but they werent letting anyone through (although there was a bit of a gap that could be squeezed through, I saw a few people doing that ;-). Apparently there was a signing session as well behind this grandstand but we missed it because it wasn’t publicised.

    I did have a nasty experience though, on the Sunday I had nipped out to get a drink and left my bag in the Grandstand. The day before they had tagged you with a wristband and let you in and out on that without having to show your ticket again. Sunday was different. The security guard refused to let me back in because I just had the wristband but not my ticket (which was in my bag!) They wouldnt let me in to go and get it either. I was panicking and it took 15 minutes of arguing with the only person who spoke English (and I speak a little turkish as well because I’ve been to Turkey so often) so I could get back in. Just a warning, always carry your ticket because it very neatly spoilt my whole weekend.

    All in all, cracking circuit but as people have said before, a bit lacking in atmosphere compared to others.

  5. Hi there,

    I’m looking to buy tickets for the Turkish Gp 2011 and was wondering if anyone knew where was best to sit? I was thinking either Silver 8 or Bronze 2, any help on both these areas would be very helpful!

    Thanks a lot!

  6. I highly recommend silver 8 grandstand. You see the deceleration from the back straight and then a left, right left combo, it finishes off with the acceleration out on the main straight.

    If you have seats high up on the southern part of the grandstand you will be able to see into the pit lane. Although you will need binoculars to really follow the action, also you need it to be able to see the graphics on the big screen. The qualifying was really dull when we weren´t able to see the graphics on the screen. Bring binoculars !!

    It was in this section the Vettel / Webber incident happened and we had front row seats for that :)

    All in all it was a great experience to see the race but that was pretty much all the entertainment we had this weekend, in Istanbul you dont notice there is a F1 weekend going on which takes away some of the experience. I have already booked flight, hotel and tickets for the Hungaroring race 2011.

    Let me know if you have any further questions and I will be happy to answer as best as I can.

    Cant wait til the season starts again… arghhh..
    /Bydlo

  7. Darren from UK said on 8th December 2010, 12:50

    I was at Bronze 5 for the race last year (turns 9 and 10). Was a good spot as you could see who was close enough to overtake before the final corners (where Silver 8 is) so I would recommend that. Had the Red bull action and also the Mclaren fight there.

    We sat at Bronze 2 for one of the sessions but personally did not think much of it.

    The closer you are to the car park / bus parks the better. The buses that transport spectators around the circuit had disappeared by the end of the race and were being used to transport people back to Istanbul. Was a long walk from the other side of the circuit in 30 degrees heat.

    Definitely take your own drink. Nearly £4 for a bottle of coke. Food seemed reasonably priced in comparison to other races I have been to though (around £6 for a burger king burger and chips).

    My girlfriend found it a bit daunting as this was her first race (security wise with police etc) not only at the race also hotel and airport, but I would definitely go again if it is still on the calendar in a few years time.

    I hired a car and stayed at holiday inn by Istanbul airport (actually 15 mins drive away!). The hotel was superb, free shuttles to and from hotel and airport as well as the city centre, and a large shopping precinct 5 mins walk away. Worked out to be a very cheap weekend (£230 for flights and 5 nights hotel, £60 for the tickets)

    Traveling to the circuit took around 45-50 minutes on all 3 days and about 1.5 hours way back once in the car. Driving in Turkey is certainly an experience not to forget.

    You would have no idea that there is an F1 race when you go. Apart from seeing a couple of the Teams minubuses at the airport, there were no banners posters at all to remind us why we were there.

    To top an excellent long weekend, we bumped into Nico Rosberg and his girlfriend in the Grand Bazaar!

  8. Hi both,
    Thanks for your feedback!
    If I were to buy tickets for Silver stand 8 would you recommend sitting at the top to the right side of the stand? Is this the best access to view the TV as well?
    Also sitting in this area can you see the rest of the circuit? I was told that because Bronze 2 is on a hill you have a better view of the whole circuit.

    Thanks again for your help!

  9. I went last year and sat in top right of the silver stand 8. Would go for the same spot again. I wrote a report of my trip which you can find here

    The pictures just after the stuff about Istanbul City show the view from our seats. From our seats using binoculars we could also see the exit of turn 2, and the famous turn 8 in the distance, with a view part-way down the start finish straight and of the finish line itself.

    You can see the TV just in front of the blue pit building – it is a bit off to the other side of the stand but close enough to see – although again you would need binoculars to read positions / timings etc (I used the F1 Application on my phone for this though).

    There is also a big gate right in front of the stand which they open at the end of the race and it is a short run around to the podium.

  10. Listen to Growler, his report is spot on!

    I would also recommend a seat high up on the right (southern) part of silver 8. Don´t have too high expectations regarding the big screen, the screen seem to be a little too far away from the entire Silver 8 grandstand. You can clearly see the action on the screen but you will not see the graphics as mentioned before. Problem solved with binoculars! you can see some parts of the rest of the track but it is far far away.

  11. Bowsie said on 24th January 2011, 19:54

    Hi everyone,

    I was looking at the biletix website that deals with ticketing for the Turkish Grand Prix and thanks to all the advice here have decided on getting silver 8 grandstand tickets. I would prefer to sit at the very back so the fencing doesn’t get in the way and I would also like to sit at the southern part of the grandstand so that I can take in some of the action on the pit lane.

    The website however only lets me pick the block I would like to sit in and automatically selects both the seat and the row so instead of row 16 I always get placed on row 1. I emailed the circuit but got no response so I was wondering whether anyone had a workaround to this issue?

    Thanks!

  12. Spacko said on 29th January 2011, 18:05

    We are looking to get tickets for the race this year and sit in the Silver 8. Does anyone know what Block is the SouthEast side of the seating.

  13. f00tsie said on 14th February 2011, 16:53

    Bowsie, we’re in the same situation as you. Don’t want to sit in Row 1.

    Can anyone help us out with the Biletix website?

    Thanks

  14. Had the same issue when I booked – here is the solution. Select the block that you want, order 9 seats but don’t go through to checkout. Open a new window, order another 9 and you will get the next 9 sequential seats. Keep doing this until you are close to where you want to be, then order the correct number of seats you need. You’ll need to work fairly quickly as the seats get released after around 5 minutes of not being checked out. Having a friend do the same on another PC/ laptop will help. I managed to get onto the back row using this method.

    • Bowsie said on 15th February 2011, 0:47

      Thank you for your response. Great solution to the problem! I booked my tickets a few days ago but didnt even think to do something like that. In the end I just tried my luck ringing the biletix ticket line in the hope there would be an English speaker on the other end.

      It turns out I was in luck and managed to book the back row without any trouble at all! Its a little bit more hassle when compared to booking online as you have to send a signed fax to them in order to confirm your booking but its worth it because it got me exactly where I wanted to be.

      Hope this is of some help to you too f00tsie!

      • Haris said on 10th April 2011, 15:25

        Hi Bowsie,

        Im wanting to book tickets using the istanbul park website too.. How long do the tickets take to arrive, Im worried I may not recieve them in time. Booking from the F1 website is significantly more expensive. Any help would be appreciated.

        • Bowsie said on 10th April 2011, 18:24

          Hi Haris,

          At the time of booking the tickets with biletix I was told I would have them around 4 weeks before the race. I got an email from UPS yesterday telling me they had left Istanbul so they were quite accurate with the timing. I will let you know when they arrive but I assume I wont be waiting too long now. If I can help you with anything else just let me know.