Turkey's sports minister is 'ready to do everything' to keep F1 in Istanbul, the Turkish Automobile Sports Federation has asserted – including 'publicity and promotional campaigns to raise attendance and earnings' in the wake of increased financial demands from Bernie Ecclestone.
The Turkish Grand Prix – popular with drivers and teams but seemingly less so with spectators – has been a fixture on the annual F1 calendar since 2005, but consistently poor crowd numbers allied to an inability to match Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Ecclestone's rising race-hosting fees saw the event dropped from the 2012 schedule last weekend [see separate story – click here
Indeed, the low spectator figures are believed to be predominantly the product of excessive ticket prices to recoup Ecclestone's fees. Having traditionally charged Turkey $13 million to stage its grand prix, for 2012, the British billionaire is understood to have asked for $24 million – almost a 100 per cent increase.
Whilst maintaining that Ecclestone's 'demands' are unworkable, the chairman of the Turkish Automobile Sports Federation (TOSFED) Mümtaz Tahincioðlu – who convened with the country's Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kýlýç earlier this week to discuss the matter – has vowed to pursue every available avenue to retain the race and to meet with F1's ringmaster in a last-ditch bid to save the day.
“We are seeking a way to keep F1 in Turkey, and [the sports minister] is ready to do everything for this goal,” Tahincioðlu told Anatolia
news agency. “We will invite Mr. Ecclestone to Turkey. We want to conclude our negotiations.
“There has been a loss in commercial volume due to the poor interest in the F1 race in Turkey. The fee Mr. Ecclestone demands from Turkey would become reasonable if we could expand this [commercial] volume in his favour. [Kýlýç] suggested beginning publicity and promotional campaigns to raise attendance and earnings.”