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F1: Istanbul Park circuit gets new operators to bring back Formula One

FILE PHOTO: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during the Turkish Grand Prix race in 2021.

FILE PHOTO: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during the Turkish Grand Prix race in 2021. | Photo Credit: UMIT BEKTAS/ REUTERS

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FILE PHOTO: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during the Turkish Grand Prix race in 2021. | Photo Credit: UMIT BEKTAS/ REUTERS

The Istanbul Park circuit, the former home of the Turkish Grand Prix, has new operators tasked with bringing Formula One back to Turkey by 2026, media reported on Tuesday.

Turkey returned to the sport in 2020 and 2021 after nearly a decade away, but it fell off from 2022 onwards partly due to the tens of millions of dollars needed to secure the contract that competitors, including in Qatar, were able to finance.

Turkey has since aimed to bring it back with President Tayyip Erdogan meeting the head of governing body FIA Mohammed Ben Sulayem in March to discuss the return of both F1 and the World Rally Championship.

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Can Bilim Egitim Kurumlari A.S., part owned by Lale Cander, chairman of F1 tire provider Pirelli’s Turkish branch, won the tender to operate the circuit for the next 30 years for some $117.8 million, broadcaster Haberturk and Motorsport.com’s Turkish channel reported on Tuesday.

It was the sole entrant as former operators Intercity did not bid and other expected bidders appeared to pull out, according to the reports.

Neither Can Bilim Egitim Kurumlari nor Intercity could be immediately reached by Reuters for comment.

Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said last month that the tender would be awarded to the bidder who would be able to bring the sport back to Turkey by 2026.

Istanbul Park had been popular among the drivers and saw increased attendance in 2020 and 2021 compared to the 2005-2011 run.

The new operators are tasked with reaching an agreement within a month to bring F1 back to Turkey and for every year from 2026 that the circuit does not host a Grand Prix, the operators will have to pay 25% of the F1-hosting contract fee to the administration, according to the tender conditions.

The new operators will also be allowed to build shopping malls and entertainment venues on the property under the tender.

Haberturk reported that a delegation from F1 owners Liberty Media would come to Istanbul following the current Muslim holy month of Ramadan to inspect the circuit.

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