Turkish Sports Minister, Suat Kilic, has scuttled talk of a state-funded return of the formula One race in Istanbul. The FIA calendar was recently adjusted to allow for another european race and many believe F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was keen to bring the Turkish Grand Prix back but Kilic said:
“If it wants to, the private sector can bring Formula One,” Kilic was quoted as saying by the Dogan news agency.
“But there is no question of us paying the cost of the rights which have been proposed to a private company to bring Formula One.”
The issue at hand is the revenue generated from the race and while many countries subsidize the sanctioning fee for F1 races, they do reap the reward of increased tourism, taxes and hospitality. None of these sources of revenue were mentioned as a benefit to Turkey by Kilic:
“Our government paid $13.5 million a year to the organisers for five years for the rights. In exchange for that, all the income went to the organisers, so the state did not get any benefit from it,” he said.
It is a slippery slope for countries who agree to cover the cost of FOM’s sanctioning fee but even the state of Texas was approached regarding the use of their Major Events Trust Fund (METF) to offset the 25 million per year invoice. The METF agreed in principle due to the promise of increased economic gains in the Austin area due to the race but Turkey seems to have omitted that concept and it makes one wonder if the F1 presence in Istanbul actually made a meaningful impact on the local economy. If not, then Kilic has a point.