Istanbul wants full-time return to Formula 1 on new long-term agreement

Race track in Turkey (Peter J. Fox / Getty Images)
Race track in Turkey (Peter J. Fox / Getty Images)
Peter J. Fox

• The Turkish GP returns to F1 in 2020.

• The race's organisers are aiming for a full-time return to the grid.

• The track's asphalt is being renewed.

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Istanbul Park wants Turkey to return full-time to the Formula 1 calendar.

After an absence, the popular circuit is back on the 'corona calendar' this year. But like the other stop-gap events including Mugello, Portimao and Imola, it is a one-off only for 2020.

Vural Ak, boss of the Istanbul Park circuit operator Intercity, told the Daily Sabah: "Our goal is to sign a long-term agreement next year and join the calendar permanently. It needs obviously to be done with a sustainable economic model."

A ghost race

Istanbul had actually planned for a sensational crowd of 100 000 spectators for its 15 November race - easily the biggest crowd of 2020 so far. But Turkey's pandemic authorities subsequently ruled that it will actually have to be a 'ghost race'.

Ak admitted: "Of course we were upset. We had planned a very good event environment and the audience would have made a great contribution to the atmosphere. We had record ticket sales in a very short period of time, and the drivers like the difficulty of our circuit. That's why they wanted us on the calendar, also because of Turkey's performance during the pandemic.

"If we complete this year's race very successfully, we will have the opportunity to sit down immediately after the race and talk about 2021 and beyond. We do not know which countries in the Americas and Asia will be able to return, but at the moment America, Mexico and Brazil are in very bad shape with the disease."

Ak said he is sure the drivers will enjoy next month's race, saying: "The asphalt is being renewed right now. I think the drivers will love it."

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