Management at Istanbul Park aren’t concerned the circuit won’t pass FIA homologation, having diligently maintained the circuit over the past decade.
Formula 1 returns to Turkey’s Istanbul Park later this year, after a nine year absence from the calendar. The circuit was used annually between 2005 & 2011, but failed to have its contract renewed with Bernie Ecclestone due to excessive race fees and a lack of local interest.
While the circuit is included on the 2020 calendar, F1 can only race there provided the circuit passes FIA homologation tests to give it a grade. Istanbul Park retained an FIA Grade 1 licence while in use, but that licence lapsed in 2017. It must achieve this result again before F1 returns, with grading based on ever-changing criteria related to run-off, drainage, kerbs and safety.
However, circuit management say they aren’t concerned by the prospect of this assessment, as they’ve maintained the track with the intention of one day attracting Formula 1 back. The circuit was taken over by Intercity in 2013, a car rental company, with large parking lots in use all around the circuit. They’ve also opened it up to track days, corporate use, cycling events and car manufacturer testing, while Porsche also house a Driving Experience centre at the circuit.
With backing from President Erdogan, Intercity were given the blessing to engage with F1 to try getting onto the calendar this year with the sport scrambling to find suitable venues to fill the schedule.
“Ever since 2013, when we took over management of Intercity Istanbul Park, we have been striving to reintroduce Formula 1 to Turkey.” said Vural Ak, Intercity Chairman. “We are overjoyed for our country that our efforts have been successful. During that time, we have been taking meticulous care of Intercity Istanbul Park, one of our country’s most valuable investments, and we are extremely excited by the prospect of preparing the venue, so that we can ensure that Istanbul receives the attention from the world it truly deserves.”
“In signing the contract, we as Intercity pledged to undertake all obligations ourselves.” continued Ak. “Given the great challenges currently facing the world and Turkey, it was crucial that, while endeavouring to bring Formula 1 back to Turkey, we did not place any burden on our state. Throughout the project, however, we felt the constant support of our state, and for this we would like to express our gratitude to everyone who has assisted, above all to his Excellency the President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”
Ak explained that the companies’ diligence in maintaining the circuit played a key role in convincing FOM that Formula 1 could return to the venue: “Since the very first day we took over the management of Intercity Istanbul Park, every year we have organised more than 300 days of events, educational programs and festivals related to motorsports, traffic safety and the automotive sector. One of the key factors that led the management of Formula 1 to include Istanbul in its 2020 schedule was the fact that, throughout the past nine years, even when races were not taking place, we always kept the track active and prepared, as if races could resume at any moment.”
The Turkish Grand Prix will be held at Istanbul Park on November 15th.