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Webber: There was no atmosphere in Turkey

Monday 8th June 2009

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Webber: There was no atmosphere in Turkey

Webber: There was no atmosphere in Turkey

Mark Webber believes Formula One fans should have been allowed in for free to witness the Turkish Grand Prix.

Jenson Button's sixth victory in seven races was played out against an unhealthy, stark backdrop of half-empty grandstands around the Istanbul Otodrom.

The circuit's location, set in hills 25 miles out of the Imperial City, combined with high ticket prices - £200 to £280 for a three -day grandstand pass - ensured a pitiful crowd of just 36,000 were on hand.

The global recession also played its part as there were far fewer corporate tickets sold compared to previous years.

The empty seats did not look good, not when you consider F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, unable to attend the race this season due to ill health, is race promoter.

"I've said before there is no atmosphere here," remarked Webber, who finished runner-up to Button.

"To clarify that, I think a lot of people tried to come here, but it is not that cheap and things like that.

"We should have let them in for free in the end because it would have been nice for the show to let people in.

"I'm sure there are a lot of people who would want to come to the Turkish Grand Prix, but can't afford to as it's very expensive.

"Jenson and I spoke about this on the parade lap, and maybe we should have made an announcement on Saturday or Sunday morning to get some more people in here to let them experience our sport.

"That's a shame it didn't happen."

Toyota Motorsport president John Howett has revealed Ecclestone did propose plans to put bums on seats, but was apparently ignored.

"I didn't speak to the promoter, although I think he told Flavio (Briatore) he was willing to do some serious activities to increase the traffic, but wasn't encouraged to do so," confirmed Howett.

"We have to realise we are in an economic situation where entry price to the track is important to the customers.

"But if you look at the viewing figures we receive at Toyota, they are encouraging, and our sport is strong, if not stronger than it has ever been."

When it was put to Howett that a sport with no live sport was not healthy, he replied: "Certainly, I do recognise that, but it is a situation partially beyond our control.

"One has to say if you look at the viewing figures it indicates the product is very strong, so you have to question whether the price of entry is too high and what we need to do to improve that.

"FOTA has always made it clear it is very open to work with the commercial rights holder to improve on this."

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