Istanbul Park is back on the Formula 1 fixture list for the first time since 2011. F1 confirmed Turkey’s return in its announcement about the locations of the final four races of 2020.
The Turkish Grand Prix will be held on 13-15 November, followed by back-to-back races in Bahrain (27-29 Nov. and 4-6 Dec.), with Abu Dhabi hosting the F1 finale on 11-13 December.
The additional races take the total to 17 rounds this year – the first time since Jensen Button’s title-winning year of 2009. December 13 is also the latest finish to a Formula 1 season since 1963.
The changes to the F1 calendar occurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to races in China and Vietnam being cancelled, while opening up a return to Turkey after an absence of nine years.
In 2007, two years after its inauguration Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone described the Istanbul Park circuit as “the best race track in the world” by former.
Designed by German driver-turned engineer Hermann Tilke, the track runs for 5.338km (3.317 miles) and has some notable corners, especially Turn 1 and the now legendary Turn 8. This is what Formula1.com had to say about them:
“The Turn 1 left-hander has been likened to Laguna Seca’s infamous Corkscrew or a steroidal S do Senna at Interlagos, so sharply does it drop away.”
“[Turn 8:] the multi-apex Pouhon-style left-hander is one of the all-time great challenges in a Formula 1 car. Tilke even engineered bumpiness into the turn and made it fall downhill just to add to the exhilaration.”
Istanbul Park – one of the best modern F1 circuits in the world
Situated between Pendik and Tuzla districts on the Asian side of the city, the Turkish Grand Prix instantly became a firm favourite with spectators and drivers alike, attracting crowds of up to 125,000 a day for the occasion.
However, in its second year race organisers were landed with a $5 million (£2.66m) fine for allowing Mehmet Ali Talat, the then President of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, to present the trophy to winner Felipe Massa. The moment was watched by over 2 billion people in over 200 countries. The sport’s governing body FIA said the organisers had broken the sport’s political neutrality rules.
It will be purely racing business in November, with Sebastian Vettel – the last driver to win in Istanbul in 2011 – back, along with Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez, who have all raced on thr track. For the others, it will be a new and exciting experience.
November’s Turkish Grand Prix will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
Main photo, top, from the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 17, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photograph © Vladimir Rys / Netflix