Who's who in the Turkish paddock this weekend...
Those who were not hugely impressed with the Istanbul Park circuit, or who thought that Hermann Tilkes latest masterpiece wasnt his best yet, were in the minority in Istanbul. Bernie Ecclestone yesterday described the new venue as ;a circuit at last that sorts the men from the boys, and Jacques Villeneuve reckons that Turn 8 is now ;the toughest corner in F1. Not a bad start!
Saturdays primary GP2 encounter saw plenty of overtaking action and eventual victor for ARTs Alexandre Premat by inches from hard charger Giorgio Pantano. Borja Garcia and Nelson Piquet followed them home but it was a bad day for series leader Heikki Kovalainen who was only 10th, and challenger Nico Rosberg who led but retired. Hiroki Yoshimoto is on pole for the second races reversed grid, with Briton Adam Carroll alongside.
The Tahincioglu name is big in Turkey. Mumtaz Mike Tahincioglu is the head of TOMSFED, Turkeys national motorsport association and the nations leading sugar confectionery manufacturer, and he watched with understandable parental pride as son Jason Tahincioglu swapped his regular Formula Renault seat for one in a Jordan as he did his demonstration run on Sunday morning. Mikes wife Ann started from pole and finished second to Melis Ceker after a close-fought VW Polo Ladies Cup race, while daughter Melissa later raced in the SEAT Cup.
Befitting the status of a new race, the celebrity guest list included Bond girl Ursula Andress and 10 actress Bo Derek (who also attended the Australian Grand Prix) and footballs Christophe Daum.
Former driver Eddie Irvine was also spotted talking with Minardi proprietor Paul Stoddart.
Overall the event has been a huge success so far, from the track design to the organisation of the race and the media side run by national press officer Pelin Kaleci and Briton John Hortons slick team.