Jun.7 (GMM) The future of the Turkish grand prix remains clouded.
One year ago, the boss of the country’s motor racing sanctioning body said it would not be “easy” to come to a new agreement with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.
The track, actually operated by 79-year-old Ecclestone’s company, is liked by the drivers but always very poorly attended. Attendance was better in 2010, but only because the price of tickets had been dramatically reduced.
It emerged earlier this year that Ecclestone was threatening to almost double the promoter’s sanctioning fee to $26 million per year after 2011.
The Briton played down the rumours at Istanbul Park last month, insisting he is in talks about a new ten-year deal.
But a report in the local Zaman newspaper said Ecclestone is still pushing for the heavily inflated sanctioning fee increase.
He reportedly met with officials on the Saturday of the recent Turkish GP, and is quoted as telling them: “I leave it up to you. India and Arab countries are all ready to take your place.”
One Turkish official said the situation will be clearer in two months.
“Turkey is definitely fond of hosting these races, and all this haggling is taking place for this,” said youth and sports director Yunus Akgul.
“However, paying $26m for this organisation every year is a big burden. The figure is very high.
“We’ve approached the deal from a different angle. Our last offer was that he relinquish the operating rights to Istanbul Park, and we guaranteed that the track would be reserved for the organisation for three weeks before and during the races.
“In return, we wanted him to come up with a new offer,” he added, admitting that if Ecclestone does not propose a lower fee, Turkey will cease to appear on the F1 calendars.