The Turkish Grand Prix next month will be held without fans despite an initial target of up to 100,000 for the return of the race in Istanbul.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the 2020 Formula 1 season schedule, with an updated calendar resulting in a 17-race season running from July until mid-December. Istanbul Park is one of five circuits that were not on the original calendar but have since managed to secure a race as a likely one-off, and race organizers were hoping to attract a big crowd to the first Turkish Grand Prix since 2011 by offering tickets at low prices.
However, the Turkish government has now blocked those plans, and the race will now be forced to take place behind closed doors due to rising coronavirus cases in the country. While the first eight rounds of the season were all held in similar conditions, Mugello had the first ticket sales for a grand prix since the start of the pandemic, and tens of thousands attended the Russian Grand Prix. The next three races in Germany, Portimao and Imola are also all set to host fans.
“Our season has been guided by a safety first approach and that will continue to be our priority,” an F1 spokesperson said. “In Turkey we were looking forward to seeing fans, but the situation in the country means this is no longer possible and we fully understand and respect the decision.”
The race at Istanbul Park takes place from November 13-15, and the circuit’s owner Intercity is keen to use the event to try and secure a permanent spot on the schedule.
“I am sure that even if it’s without fans, after the perfect hospitality we will show here, we will bring the races here next year and fill the stands together,” Intercity chairman Vural Ak said.