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GP Week : Issue 129
10 Turkish Grand Prix not gone for good? DESPITE its conspicuous absence from Bernie Ecclestone’s draft 2012 Formula One calendar, organisers of the Turkish Grand Prix are confident there is a place for them next year. The majority of F1 teams feel that 20 races is the ideal maximum. The logistical complications of travel, freight, and legal minimums for staff holiday – plus the ongoing arms race for new parts and the need to design next year’s car while still racing the current model – mean that a longer calendar would likely add to staffing costs, in addition to a range of organisational headaches. Ecclestone has long said that the 20-race maximum was negotiable, and organisers of the Turkish Grand Prix are hoping that the F1 supremo will put his money where his mouth is and return Istanbul Park to the 2012 calendar once on-going contract negotiations have been concluded. Speaking to Autosport, Ferruh Gundogan, a director at the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce said that his colleagues hoped to see their grand prix reinstated. “Certainly we are hopeful about the 2012 Turkish GP, but it depends on the result of ongoing negotiations,” Gundogan said. “Actually, [the] ultimate 2012 Formula One calendar has not been declared yet. Negotiations between the Turkish Ministry of Sports and FOA are ongoing. It is hardly possible to say that the Turkish GP has dismissed the opportunity.” Despite a lack of grassroots motorsport in the country, and ever-dwindling spectator numbers at the purpose-built Turkish racetrack, Gundogan was keen to emphasise the importance of Formula One to Turkey. “As president of the investor institution, I paid effort to inform the Turkish government and audience about the importance of Formula 1,” he told Autosport. “Sharing the same objectives, the sporting authorities are in close contact with the Ministry of Sport and have high praise of Formula One racing. “ We are discussing alternatives to expand the commercial volume of Formula One as an incentive to settle negotiations,” Gundogan concluded. Buemi confident in Toro Rosso future WHEN it was announced that Toro Rosso reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo had been signed to HRT for the duration of the 2011 Formula One season, rumours that both Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi were shortly to lose their seats died down. But it appears to have been a temporary respite, as Buemi is once again brushing off suggestions that his F1 future is not long-term. Both Buemi and teammate Alguersuari have long been subject to rumours of imminent replacement, but the Swiss driver believes that his impressive performance at the Hungarian Grand Prix – which saw him finish in P8 after a P23 start – was enough to secure his seat. Speaking to Swiss magazine 20 Minuten, Buemi admitted that his Hungary result enabled him to breathe a little easier during F1’s summer break. “ The holiday weeks will now be bearable,” Buemi told the magazine, According to the Swiss driver, team mate Jaime Alguersuari “is the only driver with whom I fight on equal terms, and I always fight to finish ahead of him, both in qualifying and the races. In eleven races, I have now beaten him eight times, so it’s very positive.” But it’s not quite as positive as Buemi remembers – he has beaten his teammate in seven of eleven races, and Hungary’s impressive display was the first time the Swiss driver has bested Alguersuari since Monaco. The young Spaniard has had an impressive run in the past four races, and one of the contributing factors to Buemi’s improved performance at the Hungaroring was the extra rubber he saved following a dismal qualifying performance and a five- place grid penalty that made wasting tyres strategically inadvisable. While Buemi’s strong Hungarian result has helped him relax during the F1 shutdown, it has not given him any more control over his racing future. “I am under contract to Red Bull until 2013, so it’s not my decision,” Buemi told 20 Minuten when explaining his confident mood. “ They are free to put me wherever they want in one of their teams. It is also possible to drive for another team, but the parent [company Red Bull] will have the final say. The guys have expressed their satisfaction with my performance so my morale is good.”