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Turkey to pay price for empty stands?

A revised F1 calendar for next season could witness the demise of the Turkish Grand Prix, according to paddock insiders.
The Istanbul Park circuit may be a favourite among F1 drivers but, unless they can convince the local population of its finer points, the venue may disappear from a calendar already in danger of bursting under its own success.

The Turkish Grand Prix is apparently in the firing line as F1 bosses attempt to streamline a 2012 schedule that will see the USA return to the fray and Bahrain potentially reappear after the political problems that sidelined in, albeit in a drawn-out manner - in 2011. Despite claiming that the F1 calendar could not, realistically, expand beyond 20 races, next season's schedule boasted 21 stops in its initial form, but rumours in the Hungaroring paddock this weekend suggest that Turkey could now make way for a little breathing room, while other dates are shuffled about to make the year more palatable for the teams.

The race, which debuted in 2005, has repeatedly failed to attract anything resembling a sizeable crowd, although its comparatively low prices made it attractive to overseas visitors if not the locals. Now, despite Bernie Ecclestone's personal involvement in the event, those near-empty grandstands appear to be the ideal opportunity for the race to be culled.

"I think it's always sad when we lose a grand prix from the calendar, [and] I think we've had terrific support from the Turkish people when we've been there," McLaren's Jonathan Neale claimed, "We've enjoyed our racing there very much, but the sport is popular and there is a limited number of sessions that we have, so we have to accept that the sport has to move forwards."

Renault's Eric Boullier and Marussia Virgin's Graeme Lowdon shared Neale's feelings, both admitting that, on a personal and professional level, they would miss going to Turkey should the race be canned, by Lowdon stressed that a growing schedule was not good for the teams, especially a minnow like Marussia Virgin.

"From a personal point of view, we will certainly miss going there, [as we've] really thoroughly enjoyed both the destination and the culture, and certainly had a lot to offer F1," he noted, "The calendar has 20 races [this] year and 21, certainly talking as one of the smaller teams, would have been too many, so the reality is that there had to be some give somewhere."

"I think Turkey's a great driver's track and everybody enjoys it," engine builder Renault Sport's Rob White added, "A bit of an anorak fact to throw in, [but] it's also got the finest dust of any track on the F1 calendar, and therefore, to an air filter engineer, it's the most difficult race!"

According to respected F1 scribe Joe Saward, a entirely reworked calendar is up for discussion at a team principals' meeting at this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, with the pairing of other events also among the points for consideration. As well as the demise of the Turkish race, Australia and Malaysia could be combined to open the season, with Bahrain moved to the end of the year, next to Abu Dhabi. Japan and Korea also look likely to run back-to-back, while China and India could find themselves pushed together, but the Canadian and American races look set to be kept apart, with the news Circuit of the Americas in Austin being paired with Interlagos towards the end of the year in order to allow more time for the US venue to be fully operational - and also for the race to run at a more optimal time of year temperature-wise.

Interestingly, however, the back-to-back between Spain and Monaco looks set to be abandoned given that the latter event traditionally starts on a Thursday, while the European GP in Valencia could also be called into question. Given that Ecclestone has already stated that he was working to keep the Valencia street circuit in the fold, however, it begs the question as to where the Spanish GP will be held in future.

Red Bull Racing's Adrian Newey shared earlier sentiments over the possible loss of Turkey, particularly with some of the venues that could remain on the schedule.

"It's a shame, [as] Turkey is a good circuit, a circuit that was enjoyable from a car perspective [and] the drivers' perspective," he concluded, "I think the key thing is that we don't go too far down the temporary tracks route, that F1 as an industry supports the permanent tracks. I gather there's a danger that Barcelona could be lost relative to Valencia, and I think that would be a tragedy, to end up going to a temporary Valencia rather than a permanent Barcelona...."

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Doris Nutscrubber - Unregistered

July 30, 2011 1:26 PM

To be honest i couldn't give a monkeys because thanks to the bbc bernie ecclestone and sky tv i shan't be watching F1 anymore after this season. Bernie ecclestone can take his 10 live races and his 10 highlights and shove them up his ars*.

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