Dennis: Istanbul Circuit is a New Spa

McLaren boss Ron Dennis believes Istanbul's new Grand Prix circuit can be the benchmark for Formula One after its successful debut on Sunday

Dennis: Istanbul Circuit is a New Spa

"This is a fantastic racing circuit and it is a sort of new Spa," he said.

Formula One's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone also likened the Istanbul Park track to the formidable Belgian venue that, more than any other, "sorts the men from the boys".

Spa has its plunging ride down to Eau Rouge, whose kink catapults the cars back uphill in a gut-wrenching challenge that drivers try to take at full throttle. Istanbul's anti-clockwise track also offers high-speed changes of gradient.

However, Istanbul is a thoroughly modern facility, unlike Spa, and a far cry from the next Italian Grand Prix at historic Monza. Dennis said there was room for both sorts on the increasingly crowded calendar.

"I think we should see Grands Prix for what they are," he said. "If we are going to have a new one, we certainly don't want to duplicate those things that are wrong with other Grands Prix.

"Spa is a great circuit but it hasn't got hotels, it hasn't got a city, it hasn't got a big airport, it hasn't got all these things, but that doesn't mean to say it is not a great circuit.

"A new circuit should not bring forward the problems with the old circuits.

"Is it (Istanbul) a trend? Well, I hope it is a trend that good circuits are made because I think everyone knows that some of the new circuits are not particularly challenging," he added.

"This shows it can be done. All the drivers have eulogised about the circuit and there are couple of corners that are really difficult that people have made mistakes on, and isn't that great?

"That is what Grand Prix racing should be, a challenge."

Turkey is the third new circuit in the last two seasons, with Bahrain and China making their debuts last year. Both also earned rave reviews for their facilities although they lack the hilly terrain that so characterises Istanbul.

They, as well as Malaysia, have also lacked the atmosphere and passion associated with the ageing circuits in the sport's European heartland.

Plenty of seats were empty on Friday and Saturday in Istanbul but race day told a different story with a crowd of at least 90,000.

There was also traffic chaos and that is something that Turkey will have to address for next year.

"I believe we can hold our heads high," said Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. "There may be small problems but these shortcomings will be overcome next year and we will be even more successful. This will be the world's premier (Grand Prix)."

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