Istanbul track 'devastated' by FIA fine
|By Damien Smith||Thursday, September 28th 2006, 11:46 GMT|
Turkish Grand Prix boss Baran Asena says the FIA's fine has been devastating for the economy of the Istanbul circuit where the race is held.
Turkish Grand Prix organisers were fined a record $5 million for inviting a Turkish Cypriot leader to hand out the trophies during the podium ceremony for last month's race.
The governing body found the actions broke the FIA statutes, the international sporting code.
It was the biggest fine in the history of motor sport.
And although Asena admitted they were relieved to keep the race, he says the fine has meant a huge impact to their economy.
"On one hand there is happiness because some were expecting more sanctions. But it is a very heavy fine. It is devastating, particularly as the economy of the race is not so bright," Asena, general manager of Istanbul Park, told autosport.com.
"Last year we lost $5m, and now we have this. We respect the FIA's decision, but it is too high.
"It will be hard to find the money. We certainly don't have that amount on hand. We have a short time to pay, 30 days. It seems impossible right now. We need leniency, it is the only way. If the fine had been $1m, which would still be a punishment, we could make it.
"We are looking for more time, a reduction in the fine or a way of paying it over a certain period of time.
"If there was a softening of the payment conditions that would help. This would make great difficulties for cash flow. So far we have held eight FIA race meetings here and we want to keep that alive, we want to continue. And I strongly believe the FIA will help us.
"We will write a letter to explain our position. Like the FIA, our only interest is to promote the sport. We chose not to appeal at the time, but now we don't know if the fine can be reduced.
"We could request a grant from the government, but we have already had grants. The government has backed us and people like the circuit. The teams want to race here.
"There has been a strong reaction from people to make a campaign to raise money. But we have to keep away from politics. Some sincere people have pledged money, but we do not want political bodies to use this situation to their advantage.
"It was difficult to explain the case and I was only able to prepare my statement at the last minute. We did not have enough time to prepare. I'm sure if they looked at the case in more detail they would be softer."
Despite his concerns, Asena said next year's race is not in danger.
"The Grand Prix is safe for 2007, I have no hesitation. We will find a way, with the help of the FIA and maybe other bodies."