ISTANBUL, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Turkey will not fill Vietnam’s vacant slot on next year’s Formula One calendar but the Istanbul promoter remained confident on Friday his track could still host a race in 2021 and beyond.
The inaugural Vietnamese Grand Prix was absent from a draft 23-race calendar published on Tuesday, with the venue for an April 25 round between China and Spain still to be confirmed.
Turkey returned to Formula One this year, for the first time since 2011, as a replacement venue on a shortened 17-race schedule and had been touted in the media as a possible replacement for Hanoi.
Vural Ak, the chairman of Intercity which operates Turkey’s Istanbul Park circuit, said talks were ongoing with Formula One but ruled out the April weekend because it falls during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“No races are held during Ramadan in Muslim countries, as fans don’t want to come when they are fasting,” he told Reuters in an interview at the circuit. “We don’t put races in Ramadan.”
Ak said he was hoping for a race between June and September, and suggested some of those scheduled on the draft calendar could drop off again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not a one-time thing. We didn’t put so much effort into this for just one race,” Ak said.
He added that while he believed Istanbul would be granted a slot in 2021, their goal was to secure a long-term contract beyond that.
On Thursday, Formula One’s Sporting Director Steve Nielsen told Turkish state media it was difficult to say whether Turkey would get a slot in 2021 but he believed talks would conclude well.
Asked if Intercity would receive any government support in future, Ak said they had organised the 2020 Grand Prix without any state funding and would look to the private sector for future assistance.
“We won the first round, we did it. Not a single cent came out of the state’s pockets. They are happy, we are happy. Now we are trying to win a bigger game next year and later.”
“I think we can overcome this COVID transition process and host Formula One in Istanbul for 10 years without question, with the dynamics of the private sector and the strength we will take from our growing economy,” he said. (Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Alan Baldwin and Toby Davis)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.