The President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated of ongoing talks with Liberty Media for the return of Turkish GP on the Formula 1 calendar.
The FIA World Rally Championship made a successful return to Turkey last weekend after a gap of eight years with a dramatic event won by Toyota’s Ott Tanak after both his title rivals Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville suffered mechanical issues.
It hosted the WRC event between 2000 and 2010 after which it was removed due to financial issues. It also staged F1’s Turkish GP at the same time between 2005 and 2011 at the Istanbul Park circuit, designed by Herman Tilke.
However, the race was scrapped after the 2011 season due to financial disputes as the Government withdrew its support for the race to take place with the high costs of hosting the event asked by the then F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.
The stance changed in the last few years as reports suggested that the Turkish government is working with the new owners Liberty Media for the race to return to the F1 calendar. In fact, the speculation was for a 2018 return after a ‘principal agreement’.
However, the rumours died down then as it did not feature in the 2018 calendar. It hasn’t been added in the provisional 2019 calendar as well with no timeline set despite the President’s push for the grand prix to return.
“We organised in the past [the] Formula 1 event and we were talking with the president [F1 chiefs] to make that happen again,” said Erdogan through a translator to the media during last weekend’s Rally Turkey event.
“We have one of the most beautiful circuits in the world and [so] we were talking to bring it back live again.” While the indication from Turkey’s side is clear, it remains to be seen how Liberty Media takes it up for the future.
The floating idea is to stage between 20 to 25 F1 races in a season but the teams have said that anything beyond the current 20 or 21 races will be a huge challenge in terms of personnel and finances.
For now, the 2019 calendar has confirmed 21 race events but outside those, there are at least two races which is in the public eyes – one being Miami and the other is Vietnam. So far, Liberty Media is yet to publicly acknowledge the talks with Turkey.