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  Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 17:45 GMT
Istanbul to join F1 calendar
The Turkish city of Istanbul straddles the border between Europe and Asia
Plans for a track in Istanbul should be ready by March
Istanbul will stage a Formula One race in 2005, Turkey's motor sports federation has announced.

Turkish officials say F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has chosen Istanbul over Izmir and Antalya as the venue for a Turkish Grand Prix.

And German architect Hermann Tilke, who designed the track at Sepang in Malaysia, is expected to complete his plans by March.

A contract for the race has yet to be signed and the FIA, Formula One's governing body, would not confirm that Istanbul had been selected.

But Ecclestone said in a letter to the Turkish federation this week: "I have decided upon Istanbul.

"Now we need to finalize the commercial issues and the TV rights."

Istanbul would be the latest city to enter F1 following the decision to award races to Shanghai and Bahrain in 2004.

The new venues could see traditional European races like the Austrian Grand Prix and the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola removed from the calendar.

Belgium has already been struck off next year's schedule, reducing the season to 16 events, although it could be reinstated for 2004.

Formula One, after a season in which television ratings slumped badly, is trying to spread from its traditional European base where restrictions on tobacco advertising harm revenue potential.

Ecclestone visited Istanbul, Izmir and Antalya in the summer and said at the time that Turkey had a 99.9% chance of staging a race.

Turkish officials believe a Grand Prix would boost tourism in the country, which is caught up in an economic crisis.


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15 Aug 02 | Formula One
24 Jul 02 | Formula One
09 Aug 01 | Formula One
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