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GP Week : Issue 49
>>F1TURKEY on White Elephants IN a funny way, I sort of hoped that the FOTA teams had boycotted the Turkish Grand Prix. No, it wasn’t just because I’d put a tenner each way on both the Williamses and both the Force Indias, and could have made a very pretty penny out of such a situation, but in this whole political mess, it might just have hit the message home. The sight of only four F1 cars that nobody had heard of, ‘racing’ for victory could have stood as by far the most powerful visual aid FOTA could have used. And what’s more it could have been done at a race where, frankly, nobody would have cared. Because nobody was there. There were jokes throughout the weekend that there were more plain clothes policemen than fans. And it wasn’t an exaggeration. Istanbul Park was dead. One almost expected to see tumble weed rolling across the straights, through the heat haze. It was a ghost town. I know I spoke a few weeks ago about the fact that Monaco was comparatively empty … but this was something else. It was like a test session in the middle of January, only less well attended. Mark Webber made the point after the race, that it was a shame that there had been no atmosphere. Perhaps, he suggested, tickets should just have been given out to fill the stands. I mean it’s not like Istanbul is short on residents. What’s really sad, for me, is that this might be the last time we come to Istanbul. If reports are to be believed, there is no guarantee we’ll be back. Even with Bernie running the show, the place is losing money hand over fist. And it’s such a shame, because it is one of the best tracks of the year. Okay, so the F1 race doesn’t show it off amazingly well, but have you ever seen a GP2 race around Istanbul? WILL BUxTON GPWeek Editor It’s insane. The track is fantastic. The drivers, no matter the category, love the place … they just miss the atmosphere and wish the run off wasn’t quite so vast. Afterall, even the best like a challenge. So what can be done? Well, oddly, I don’t think it’s got anything to do with the credit crunch or the politics. It’s just that it’s in the wrong place. Dare I say it, the wrong country, too. There’s just no real F1 fever in Turkey as there is in, say, Britain, Spain or Brazil. And it’s the age old problem. The decision-makers in F1 have sort of forgotten where they’re going with the whole thing, to the extent that we’ve now got one of the best circuits on the calendar in a country where nobody shows up. All in all, Turkey illustrates really well the existing problems facing the sport. It’s a sign of what can happen when you forget why you’re racing in the first place. One hopes common sense rules out on Friday, because decisions taken for reasons other than those for the furtherance of the sport may give us something fresh and new, but it won’t necessarily make it popular. Pos # Driver FORMULA 1 Round 7 ISTANBUL Team 1 22 Jenson Button 2 14 Mark Webber 3 15 Sebastian Vettel 4 9 Jarno Trulli 5 16 Nico Rosberg 6 3 7 5 8 10 Timo Glock 9 4 10 7 Felipe Massa Robert Kubica Kimi Räikkönen Fernando Alonso 11 6 Nick Heidfeld Lewis Hamilton Brawn-Mercedes RBR-Renault RBR-Renault Toyota Williams-Toyota Ferrari BMW Sauber Toyota Ferrari Renault BMW Sauber 12 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 13 1 14 2 15 12 Sebastien Buemi 16 8 Nelson Piquet 17 20 Adrian Sutil 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 McLaren-Mercedes 58 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 57 STR-Ferrari Renault 57 57 18 11 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari Ret 23 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes Force India-Mercedes 57 57 47 Ret 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 4 Laps 58 Time 1:26:24.848 +6.7s +7.4s +27.8s +31.5s +39.9s +46.2s +46.9s +50.2s +62.4s +64.3s +66.3s +80.4s +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap Gearbox Brakes Grid 2 4 1 5 9 9 10 13 6 8 11 12 16 14 18 17 15 20 3 19 Points – Drivers: Button 61, Barrichello 35, Vettel 29, Webber 27.5, Trulli 19.5, Glock 13, Rosberg 11.5, Massa 11, Alonso 11, Hamilton 9, Raikkonen 9. Manufacturers: Brawn 96, Red Bull 56.5, Toyota 32.5, Ferrari 20, McLaren 13, Williams-Toyota 11.5, Renault 11, BMW Sauber 8, Toro Rosso 5. 33 opinion