Formula 1 in Istanbul 2021

After the unsuccessful attempt to go to Formula 1 in Istanbul in 2020 (when they decided to hold the event without an audience), 2021 brought us luck in this regard and this is how we witnessed the Grand Prix of Turkey 2021.

Traveling to Turkey

Many people travel from Bulgaria to Istanbul for the Formula even for just Sunday or the weekend. We also wanted to attend Friday’s practice. So we decided to split our journey from Sofia to Istanbul by stopping somewhere in the middle – in Edirne – and spend the night there. So, we left late Thursday afternoon and arrived in Edirne just in time for a quick dinner. The next morning we bought a vignette (100 TL credit + 12.5 fee), a local SIM card (180 TL for 20 GB) and after a hearty Turkish-style breakfast we were ready to go.

Formula 1 Istanbul 2021, Grand Prix Turkey

Arrival at Intercity Istanbul Park / Istanbul Racing Circuit

As we approached Istanbul City Park (which is part of the huge Istanbul and is relatively close to Sabiha Gokcen Airport), we could already see a bit more traffic, even though it was only early Friday afternoon. Many stewards on the highway stopped us and asked if we had a parking ticket. We didn’t have. Then we were told to turn left or right to one of the two public parking lots, from which there was a minibus to the entrance of the circuit. We chose the right one and it turned out that we parked very close to the main entrance. We were happy and calm knowing that the next day we will be able to park in this parking lot (for 30 TL per car per day) and after 20 minutes of walking and passing through the fan zone, we would be at the entrance to our sector, Silver 8.

Friday – practice and a walk around the fan zone

In general, there were not many people on Friday. Our stands were almost empty. We managed to see the practice with a good view from a section below, on the grass, which was not blocked by a safety net to the service road and the track. We checked our seats – we could see 2 turns, including the interesting number 12, as well as the back of the start-finish line. It was very cool to see the bolides entering the pit lane. We managed to walk around the fan zone, buy from the official merch of Istanbul Park, see the queues for a photo with 3D versions of favorite pilots, and decide that we have had enough for this day.

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A ticket for the three days of Formula in Silver 8 cost us 159 euros per person, we bought them from the site biletix.com. We stayed in an apartment in Princess Residence, about 30 minutes by car to Intercity Istanbul Park, and it cost 65 euros per night for a three-bedroom apartment or 13 euros per night per person.

Saturday – qualifying

On Saturday we decided to leave early so we could also see the practice at noon. And then we could see how many people actually attend the event. The highway was closed a few kilometers before the circuit, diverting traffic through a village. We began to despair of traffic jams, it started raining. At one point, after two or three shortcuts, we decided to change strategy and leave the car somewhere along the road. So, with only 4-5 kilometers of walking, we would reach the entrance of the track. And we were not the only people to walk. The closer we got, the bigger and bigger the group of hikers became.

This whole exercise took us maybe two or three hours, so we got straight to the qualifications just in time. Well, we managed to buy tea and something to eat from the kiosks near the track, there was not much of a choice. Anyway, we told ourselves that the next day we would be better prepared and bring something to eat and drink from home.

For the qualifying itself, even the sun showed up, so watching the whistling cars was very nice. Nowadays, one cannot guess from the result of the qualifying what the starting order of the next day will be, because there are unusually many engine changes. Which results in starting last or in the middle of the column, if you’re Hamilton.

The race on Sunday

For the race on Sunday, we had already learned our lesson and planned to take a road that we hoped would be open and would not be full of parked cars by the time we get there. We parked the car and walked only about three kilometers to our sector, only this time it was drizzling. While we waited for our boys to start driving their fast cars, we were quite refreshed and maybe even a little wet. But the mood was rising, as always, and we were prepared with things to eat. Our stand had a very impressive group from Pernik, who were not only visible from afar with their many flags that even the helicopter camera captured. Those people were also heard, cursing generously, so that everyone around could find out who were the pilots they disliked.

Of all the Formula 1 races we have attended so far (Monza 2015, Hungaroring 2018, Baku 2019), we can say that this one in Istanbul 2021 was the most interesting. There was suspense until the end, the turn in front of us was having the pilots decrease to 100 kilometers per hour, so we could take a good look at them. We saw a few overtakings and twirls, it was an interesting race in general, although the weather on Sunday was not in our favor. The winner was Bottas for the Mercedes team.

Following is a video with our impressions of the Grand Prix Istanbul 2021. We have tried to cut the obscene noises to the maximum, but the emotion is strong, so we ask for your understanding.

https://youtu.be/p5KaQUa8XaU

You can combine the F1 experience with a few days of exploring Istanbul, and for a few more days – also other parts of Turkey. Here is our itinerary for Istanbul and Turkey, with travel tips.

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