Both Istanbul Park in Turkey and Sepang in Malaysia have agreed terms to extend their rights to host Formula One Grands Prix into the future. After it was announced that F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone had brought the Istanbul circuit, Sepang also signed a contract that will see the Malaysian Grand Prix on the calendar until 2015. This is obviously good news for both tracks, which have only recently joined the calendar, but it does put the rumour of a Singapore race on hold for a while.
Ecclestone, who is regularly quoted as being among the richest entrepreneurs in the UK, decided to buy the Istanbul Park circuit seeing the venue as long term investment. His board of advisor’s branded the diminutive Briton as stupid as he negotiated the 80 page contract, claiming that the price was just too high. While Bernie is keeping shtum about the exact figure, reports are quoting the sale price as between $140m and $190m to take over the Turkish Grand Prix.
My board of directors thought I am a stupid businessman after checking the agreement. So if you ask why we are still in, I would say that Istanbul Park is the best race course in the world; that I believe in Istanbul and that it will bring advantages in the long term. Bernie Ecclestone.
This isn’t the first circuit Bernie has bought, as he currently owns the Paul Ricard Test Track in France. But this purchase will surely see the Turkish Grand Prix on the calendar well into the future as Bernie continues to develop relationships with the Middle and Far East.
Not too far away from Turkey is another venue that will feature a Grand Prix for many years to come – Sepang. At the recent Malaysian Grand Prix, Bernie had criticised the track saying it had become a little shabby and needed some re-decoration. However, the race has steadily grown in popularity since its inception in 1999, and while the current agreement was due to expire in 2010, an extension has been granted until 2015.
Formula One is breaking in to new territory with these Asian circuits, and Bernie is keen to continue Formula One’s involvement in the East. He was recently seen in Singapore, sparking rumours that a Singapore Grand Prix could be on the cards on a street circuit. Abu Dhabi will host a race in 2009 on Yas Island, and South Korea will be adding Formula One to their sporting calendar in 2010.
You can view other Asian Circuits, both old and new, on the BlogF1 Asian Circuits Page.