ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday held talks with the new chief of Formula One on bringing motor racing’s top franchise back to Turkey after a six-year break, the manager of the Istanbul circuit said.
A statement on the presidential website said that Erdogan met Formula One chief executive Chase Carey at the president’s palace in Ankara in the company of some of his top aides and Sports Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic.
Also present was Ali Vural Ak, the managing director of the Istanbul Park Intercity circuit where the Turkish Grand Prix was held from 2005 until 2011.
“I hope that with the help of Mr President, God willing, the Istanbul Park will again host Formula One,” Ak said after the meeting, quoted by the Hurriyet daily.
“We had very intensive meetings… we have not signed yet but all that remains is a signing. God willing, our country will again host Formula One in Istanbul,” he added.
The annual race fell out of the calendar due to a lack of agreement on the cost of the event.
But Erdogan has reaffirmed over the last months that Turkey is ready to host any sporting event, despite his evident bitterness that Istanbul’s bid to win the 2020 Olympic Games failed.
Chase took over Formula One after the reign of its longstanding powerbroker Bernie Ecclestone effectively finished in January when US-based Liberty Media completed its takeover of motorsport’s most prestigious brand in a deal valued at about $8 billion.
There have been complaints that under the 86-year-old Ecclestone, Formula One failed to move with the times, and the new ownership saw him shunted into an advisory role as “chairman emeritus”.