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Fresh hope for Istanbul

Bernie Ecclestone insists Turkey could stay on the F1 calendar beyond the current season
The Turkish Grand Prix could yet remain on the F1 schedule beyond this season despite comments from the head of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce suggesting that the 2011 race could be the last.

Murat Yalçintas used Twitter to reveal the news that the race could be at risk, stating that it was likely the race would be canned because of rising fees [See separate story HERE].

The main problem for event organisers is the doubling of fees to host the race up to $26 million, a fee which it would struggle to recoup as the event has thus far struggled to bring in crowds.

A number of stands remained empty last year while barely 36,000 three-day passes were sold in 2009 – well below the figures seen at the majority of circuits.

Despite the lack of crowds, commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone – who is also promoter of the race – said he was hopeful that the event could continue into 2012 and beyond, with an increased number of spectators expected to visit the race next month; a move which will reduce the amount being subsidised by the government.

"Turkey generally is one of our better circuits," he told Reuters. "I think Turkey is a bloody good circuit. All the facilities there are good, everything is good except we don't have a big crowd.

"I would be disappointed if we lose it but we can't keep subsidising it. We have a long lease on the circuit and we have an escape clause. We can escape now if we want to.

"When our first agreement was made, they [the government] subsidised ticket revenue so everyone was expecting a whole bunch of people to be there and if there wasn't, the government was going to make up for the missing tickets. It looks very much like the crowd is going to be much bigger this year, so it means the government's involvement will be considerably less."

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