Ankara, Dec 6, 2012 (AFP / Gustavo A Roche) – As for today, there will be 19 races in 2013, instead of the 20 originally believed. Formula 1 “supremo” Bernie Ecclestone has been searching for several months to have a 20th race on the 2013 calendar, following the decision to delay the New Jersey Grand Prix’ inaugural running from June 2013 to 2014.
To this end, France was mentioned as the front-runner to host the event either at the Paul Ricard Circuit or Magny-Cours. Formula 1 racing has not taken place in this country since 2008.
Nevertheless, talks seem to be in limbo and now the attention turned to Istanbul Park.
Turkey hosted a Grand Prix in Istanbul from 2005 to 2011 and it proved extremely popular with the drivers but it came to an abrupt end when Ecclestone and the then race promoters failed to reach agreement over holding the 2012 race.
The Turkish Automobile Federation (Tosfed) announced that the Turkish Grand Prix could return to the Formula One schedule next year provided that organizers can reach agreement with the sport's paymaster Bernie Ecclestone over money (usually that is he matter).
Ecclestone and the new manager of the circuit, businessman Vural Ak, reached agreement on all matters relating to the race, according to the Tosfed statement.
And it remained for the Turkish government to give the green light to releasing the requisite funds -- which according to Ak the amount is to be 13.5 million dollars. But Suat Kilic –the country’s Sports Minister- told reporters that the private sector must deal with the race.
Turkey will not release any funds for the return of the Turkish Grand Prix to the Formula One schedule next year; the sports minister was quoted as saying on Thursday.
"There is nothing on the government's agenda about the return of Formula One to Turkey. This is an issue that entirely concerns the private sector," Suat Kilic was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.
"If it wishes, the private sector can and will bring Formula One," he said.
"But it is out of the question for us to pay the cost of the rights which has been proposed to a private company to bring Formula One," Kilic added.
Turkey has become increasingly ambitious in competing to host major sporting events. Istanbul is considered a strong candidate to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games - they are up against Tokyo and Madrid and will learn their fate when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote on September 6 next year.
At end, time is running out on Mr. Ecclestone who will be at the General Assembly of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), the sport's governing body, whose board had reserved a date for a Grand Prix to be held on July 21 at an unspecified European location.