The Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park could lose its place on the F1 schedule next year, according to the latest rumours.
German newspaper Die Welt
, reports: “On Sunday the Turkish GP in Istanbul takes place – and possibly for the last time. Rumours persist that F1 will no longer make the long journey there, the circuit is too remote and the spectator stands are too empty.”
Turkey first appeared on the F1 calendar back in 2005, but despite its popularity with the drivers – who relish the challenge of Turn Eight – like a number of the other new venues, spectator numbers have been disappointing.
Speaking at the start of the year, however, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone refuted talk that the 2010 Turkish GP will be the last – and he has re-iterated that conviction on the eve of this weekend's race, adding that talks are presently underway to extend the contract by some ten years. The current deal expires this year.
“It's an enormous market in Turkey. Eventually they will get themselves sorted out,” he said back in March, going on to call for patience in response to low ticket sales again for Friday practice this season.
“We'll be here again next year,” the British billionaire is quoted as having said by The Associated Press
. “It's not good, but it takes a long time [to build a fan base in a country with no F1 history]. Let's wait until Saturday or Sunday. It'll be better than last year.”