Istanbul Park (Turkish: İstanbul Park), also known as the Istanbul Racing Circuit or initially Istanbul Otodrom, is a motor sports race track in Akfırat village east of Istanbul, Turkey. It was inaugurated on 21 August 2005. It has been called “the best race track in the world” by Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
The venue of the Turkish Grand Prix is located in crossing of boundaries of Pendik and Tuzla districts on the Asian side of Istanbul, close to the junction of Kurtköy on the north side of the Otoyol 4, linking Istanbul to Ankara. It is adjacent to the newly constructed Sabiha Gökçen International Airport and is surrounded by forests and fields.
The Istanbul Park racing circuit was one of only five circuits running anticlockwise in the 2011 Formula One season, the others being Autódromo José Carlos Pace (used for the Brazilian Grand Prix), the Marina Bay Street Circuit (used for the Singapore Grand Prix), the Korea International Circuit (used for the Korean Grand Prix) and the Yas Marina Circuit (used for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix). The circuit is 5.338 km (3.317 mi) long, with an average width of 15 m (49 ft) ranging from 14 to 21.5 m (46 to 70.5 ft), and covers over 2.215 million square metres (547 acres). With a total of 14 corners, the sharpest with a radius of merely 15 m (49 ft), the circuit runs over four different ground levels with a start/finish straight over 650 m (2,133 ft) in length. The total race distance of the Turkish Grand Prix is 309.356 km (192.225 mi) over 58 laps.
The main grandstand has a seating capacity of 25,000 spectators. In addition, natural ground stands and temporary stands can provide a total capacity of over 155,000. The paddock buildings are two-level structures; the ground floor reserved for racing teams, the upper floor serving as hospitality areas, with an additional viewing capacity of 5,000 seats. At each end of the paddock, there are two 7-story VIP towers.
The circuit and its facilities were designed by the well-known racetrack architect Hermann Tilke, who said he designed the track to try to catch the drivers out. The inaugural Turkish Grand Prix certainly caught the drivers out, with many drivers spinning off throughout the weekend.
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