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  Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 16:10 GMT
Istanbul gains track approval
The Turkish city of Istanbul straddles the border between Europe and Asia
Work on an F1 circuit in Istanbul should start in April
Plans for a Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul have been given the go-ahead by Formula One circuit designer Hermann Tilke.

Tilke inspected the site with Turkish motor sports federation head Mumtaz Tahincioglu and described it as "atmospheric".

Turkish officials said last week that Istanbul had been chosen as the venue to host a Grand Prix in 2005 by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

The site beat off competition from Izmir and Antalya and Tilke expects work to begin in April or May 2003

The German, who was responsible for designing the Sepang track in Malaysia, says that the hilly terrain will not be a problem for drivers.

"For the drivers and spectators it's good to both have flat areas for high speeds and to have hills. We can make a very atmospheric track."

A contract for the race has yet to be signed but Turkish officials say a deal is imminent.

However, 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 last 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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