Webber on Turkey - 'It Was a Ghost Town' UPDATE Crowd attendances were down significantly for the Turkish Grand Prix last weekend. Although the inaugural race of 2005 may have caused hour-long traffic jams on local roads, Istanbul Park was filled to just under 28 percent of its full capacity in 2009, with sales for three-day tickets having plummeted dramatically. With a capability of holding 130,000 people, the Istanbul venue sold just 36,000 full weekend tickets in 2009, the lowest of the circuit's five-year F1 history; in fact, the low led organizers to covering a number of the brightly covered grandstands with black fabric in order to mask the low attendances in the background of television pictures.
"There was no one here," Red Bull's Mark Webber, who finished second, said to Reuters after the Grand Prix. "There were a lot of people that tried to come in today but obviously it's not that cheap, and things like that, but we should have let them in for free at the end - it would have been nice for the show to let people in; I'm sure there's a lot of people that would want to come to the Turkish Grand Prix but can't afford to because it's very expensive."
The Spanish Grand Prix also experienced a downfall in attendances this year, not helped by the drop in form of Fernando Alonso and the general economic slump; a three-day main grandstand ticket was the most expensive, coming in at €533 (£467 approx.) if paying on the gate. "We have to make it cheaper," Ferrari's Felipe Massa continued of general prices for F1 tickets. "We prefer to race at a track with cheaper tickets but a lot of people inside, because if they put the prices of the tickets down it would be full.
"That is also one of the issues we have - that it is too expensive; if you go in normal families and you need to spend €1000 for yourself and your two kids, you think about what to do and you say 'I prefer to watch on television' - so for me it is clear." Webber added: "I think when you come here and you see in the city that there are massive fans around, then you come here (to the circuit) and see that there is nobody, you know that it is just too expensive."
[Editor's Note: Bernie Ecclestone charges such high fees to race promoters to put on an event there is no way race promoters can lower prices and still pay the fees.]06/07/09 (GMM) Instead of covering grandstands with asphalt-colored tarpaulin or removing trackside broadcast cameras, organizers of the Turkish grand prix should have swung open the gates, Mark Webber said after finishing second at Istanbul Park.
All weekend at the impressive Hermann Tilke-penned circuit, observers have marveled at the scarcity of spectators, as did the Australian driver as he and his fellow drivers waved at near-empty grandstands while on the back of a slowly circulating flat-bed truck prior to Sunday's race.
"Jenson and I spoke about this on the parade lap, that to get some more people in here, to let them experience our sport, we should have let them in for free," said Webber, 32.
Observers in Istanbul have wondered all weekend why some grandstands, built with multicolored seats, had been covered at the last minute.
It turns out that it was to camouflage the fact that, from a helicopter's viewpoint, television viewers may have been unaware that a major motor sporting event was taking place below.
Sunday's official headcount was 36,000, at a venue whose capacity is in excess of 150,000.
"I am looking forward to Silverstone because I think it will be a great atmosphere, unlike here. There was no one here," Webber lamented.