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Turkish GP eyes 100,000-strong crowd for F1 return

Turkish Grand Prix organisers are hoping to attract a crowd of 100,000 spectators for its comeback race this year, after announcing the event would be open to the public.

Fernando Alonso, Renault R28; Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari F2008 and Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing RB4 at the start of the race

The Istanbul Park track will hold an F1 race on November 15, with Liberty Media having put the event back on the calendar as a one-off for now.

While organisers had not been sure initially if the event would be open to spectators, Vural Ak, the chairman of promoters Intercity, said at a press conference on Tuesday that the public will be allowed in.

With the track being located in a wide-open space, Ak said that he believed the venue could safely accommodate up to 100,000 spectators – which is half its full capacity.

While being open to the possibility of a spike in coronavirus cases forcing a change of plan, Ak said he believes protocols put in place could ensure a bumper crowd.

"We have to be prepared for anything," he said. "If the disease becomes worse than today, then the race can be done without spectators.

"However, we know the capacity of this track. Around 220,000 spectators can watch the race in the grandstands and in the open areas.

"At the moment for safety reasons, if we close some sections, about 100,000 spectators will be able to watch the race by following social distancing rules." understands that despite Turkey’s aspirations, the final details about the number of fans who will be allowed in to the event has still to be signed off by F1 itself.

With 100,000 seeming to be quite an optimistic target from the organiser, it is understood a more realistic likelihood is somewhere between 60-80,000.

General admission tickets for the event are being priced at 30 Turkish Lira (TL) (£3) per day, with Intercity saying they were more interested in pulling off a successful grand prix than maximising profit.

"Formula 1 normally has certain standards and ticket prices are at a certain level," added Ak.

"However, as Intercity, we do not seek to gain financial advantage from this and the government has encouraged us.

"The ticket prices are 30 TL per day. It will be 90 TL in total for three days. Tickets will be on sale next week and we think the tickets will sell very quickly."

Although the Turkish venue has not hosted an F1 race since 2011, Ak said the track condition was still up to standard.

"An official came and looked at the asphalt and the infrastructure and thanked us, saying that almost everything was like the first day," he said.

"However, with only two-and-a-half months to go, a more experienced team will come and see what updates need to be made.

"We are able to do this because we kept the track ready as if there would be a race every day."

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