Lying between Europe and Asia, Istanbul enjoys the cultural fruits of both. This fascinating city is host to innumerable beautiful hotels which lie in proximity of the architecture mapping the lives of ancient civilizations and also the heady mysticism of its famous bazaars. Since 2005, there is also another strong pull to the city which has brought in over 155,000 extra visitors to the city over just one weekend alone: Formula One at the state-of-the-art Istanbul Park racetrack.
The Istanbul Park circuit made its long-awaited debut on the Formula One calendar in 2005 following extensive construction work on a purpose-built track in Akfirat County, 90 km east of Istanbul itself. Designed by German architect and former race driver Hermann Tilke, Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone has hailed it "the best race track in the world," which many who have witnessed a race there can also vouch for. The circuit has secured the rights to host Formula One meetings until at least 2021.
Not only is the circuit state-of-the-art, it also benefits from excellent transport links, with the TEM Motorway which connects the city of Ankara to Istanbul running close-by (ideal for those using car hire in Turkey who have incorporated the Grand Prix into their holiday plans) and also Sabiha Gökçen International Airport which lies in close proximity.
The circuit itself is unique, in the fact it is one of the few on the planet that runs anti-clockwise. The crowd capacity of the track is also something to marvel at. A mighty 25,000 people are able to pack into the impressive main grandstand alone, with the full capacity of the circuit usually hitting the 155,000 mark when counting the inclusion of temporary seats and other grandstands that are installed for the race weekend. For a more "accommodating" experience, Istanbul Park offers V.I.P and hospitality areas to enjoy the race from, including the upper floor of the paddock area (where the team's garages are situated) as well as two seven-story V.I.P towers for the most supreme views of the race where you will be wined and dined in luxurious surroundings. Large electronic screens can also be found around the circuit to enable spectators to keep up to date with all the relevant information they need for what might be happening in other areas of the circuit and the race in general.
When the circuit was designed, racetrack architect Hermann Tilke intended it to be one of the most challenging for the drivers on the whole race calendar, which can be witnessed in the amount of 'spin-offs' that have been seen during race weekend. As well as this, Istanbul Park's 'Turn 8' has quickly become one of the most famous corners on the Formula One calendar in its history. This fast, sweeping turn features a mammoth four apexes, making race fans and drivers quickly hold comparisons to the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Turn 1, the "Turkish Corkscrew" has also caught the eye, which features a sharp downhill left-hand turn and always manages to catch more than a few drivers out over the course of qualifying and the race itself.
In total, the track features 14 turns and runs to 5.37 kilometres, which over 58 laps means each driver who completes the race covers 309.3 kilometres. The top speed Formula One cars can attain on the track is an impressive 329.5 kilometres per hour.
To date, Ferrari's Filipe Massa holds the most race wins with three out of the four held here at the time of writing. However, anyone who has bought a ticket to race weekend for this immense Formula One experience can claim to be a winner.