The last two years have seen some wild changes to the Formula 1 calendar, and the return of some tracks we never expected the series to visit.
While the Nurburgring and Imola are staples in the virtual racing world and available in basically every game, there is one F1 replacement track that is barely available at all... Istanbul Park.
Why we love Istanbul Park
The Turkish Grand Prix only ran from 2005 to 2011, but the circuit quickly became a fan favourite. With a few elevation changes, sweeping corners, and of course the famous turn 8 it is easy to see why fans and drivers love it.
There have also been some iconic moments at the circuit. From Lewis Hamilton's GP2 charge and Sebastian Vettel's F1 practice debut in 2006 to the classic Schumacher-Alonso fight and the Red Bulls coming together, it's been a track that has always delivered.
When Istanbul Park was called up in 2020 as a replacement track it delivered another classic. With a slippery new surface and rain, Lance Stroll took his maiden pole position on Saturday, only to lose out dramatically on Sunday. The winner was Lewis Hamilton, which secured his seventh World Drivers' Championship.
Coming in once again for 2021, fans are naturally excited to see what the circuit will come up with next. But one thing they can't do is try it out for themselves.
The absent track
While F1, MotoGP, DTM, FIA GT and World Touring Car Championships, and even FIA European Truck Racing have hosted events at the circuit, you'll be hard-pressed to find a racing game that has the circuit available.
In fact, there are only 3 console titles that have the track, and none of them are particularly recent. F1 2010, F1 2011, and GRID Autosport have Istanbul Park. These games, released on the Xbox 360 and PS3, are not exactly modern racers.
For the 90+ tracks that Gran Turismo 7 will boast and the whole range of PC sims, none of them contain Istanbul Park. Which is just... bizarre.
For a circuit that is so popular and recognisable it seems incredible that it is so unavailable in the gaming world. It's not totally unavailable though...
There are mods. Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, and Automobilista have Istanbul Park mods available, but not every PC racer is comfortable modding games and it still excludes the entire console player base.
We won't get it any time soon
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like developers have any interest in putting Istanbul Park in games any time soon.
Unless Turkey is on the provisional Formula 1 2022 calendar, Codemasters will have no reason to put it into F1 2022. It's not coming to Gran Turismo 7 and Forza Motorsport is some way off. Assetto Corsa 2 isn't coming until 2024.
It's a real shame, because Istanbul Park is a thrill-ride of a circuit. With F1 once again visiting the circuit this year hopefully it will spark some action in developers. Until then we will have to get modding if we want to race there ourselves.