Turkish Grand Prix chiefs insist the door is not fully closed on sorting out a deal to secure the future of the race, despite a reluctance by the government to bankroll a big hike in fees.
Organizers of the Istanbul Park event have been told by the government that the $26.5 million fee proposed by Bernie Ecclestone – double what it has cost up until now – is too much. But although that prompted speculation that the race would be axed from next year's calendar, officials expect talks to continue for several months yet to try and see if an agreement can be reached.
Murat Yalcintas, president of the Istanbul chamber of commerce, emphasized that no final decision has been made yet.
"This year will be a turning point in the future of the Turkish Grand Prix," he explained. "According to the results of these discussions, the Turkish GP may or may not continue.
"Both sides have not declared any official opinion yet. The only thing we can say is that Mr. Ecclestone insists on a deal of $26.5 million per year, and the Turkish government has not evaluated this proposal positively."
When asked what time frame he expected a decision to be made about the future of the event, Yalcintas said: "It is really impossible to give a certain date, because ultimately the F1 calendar has been announced at different dates in the past by FOA [Formula One Administration]. But we estimate it will be officially declared between August and September of 2011. So, taking into account the current problems related to Bahrain, discussions may last until the end of this summer."
Yalcintas claimed that there were financial benefits from Turkey holding the F1 race, but said the country's economy was not dependent on it.
"Turkey has witnessed many global events in the last 30 years, and one of them is F1," he explained. "We are aware of the fact that achieving continuity in such global events is more important than adding new ones.
"Regarding local business, Formula 1 attracts most of the visitors from our neighbors, such as Greece, Bulgaria and other European countries. But it is difficult to say that there is an 'F1 economy.'"