The Turkish Grand Prix was first run in 2005, part of a rapid expansion in new venues engineered by Bernie Ecclestone, and the choice of the location caused more than a few raised eyebrows given the history of unrest and terrorist attacks in the previous two decades.
As with almost all new circuits, Hermann Tilke designed the Istanbul Park circuit, and while the first grand prix was well attended, thereafter there were considerable concerns at the lack of crowds for the events. This was caused in part by the lukewarm local interest in Formula One, and also expectations that 50,000 tourists would flock to the area for races proved wildly optimistic. This has in turn led to ongoing speculation that Istanbul could be a grand prix which would disappear if a space was needed in the packed F1 calendar to accommodate a more appealing event.
Kimi Raikkonen won the inaugural event and then Felipe Massa and Ferrari took the next three. But the second grand prix in 2006 almost proved to be the last after a massive political row broke out in the immediate aftermath of the race.
During the podium ceremony, the winner's trophy was presented by Mehmet Ali Talat - his caption appeared on TV announcing him as the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus - a state that is only recognised by Turkey. The FIA launched an enquiry, believing it to be a breach of the organiser's neutrality. The decision on who would present the trophy had been left to the last moment, giving the FIA no opportunity to veto. The FIA considered scrapping the event but in the end decided to slap organisers with a $5million fine.
The authoritieswere again under attack in 2008, when during the GP2 support race, a stray dog made its way onto the track and was struck by Bruno Senna's car.