Bernie Ecclestone today achieved a long held ambition to secure a Grand Prix in Russia with the signing of a five year deal starting in 2014.
But the twist is that the venue, in Sochi a southern Russia Black Sea resort, near the Caucasus Mountains, will be repurposed from the infrastructure built for hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The games are due to run in February 2014 and in the F1 season that follows, the cars will run around a track which uses many of the facilities from the games, such as broadcast and media centres.
It’s rather like the initiative which brought the Grand Prix to Barcelona in 1991, the year before the city hosted the Summer Olympics, except that this one is making use of the same facilities. This helps with the Olympic notion of legacy, which host cities are encouraged to develop. Russia hasn’t hosted an Olympic event since the controversial 1980 Moscow Olympics, which were boycotted by the USA for political reasons.
The F1 project has the backing of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and is on a scale to satisfy Ecclestone, who has been trying to get a race together in Russia for a long time.
“It can be a super circuit,” said Ecclestone. “It’s all the things we need and wanted and we are very happy.”
It is possible, according to the Russian deputy PM that the race will be pushed back to 2015 if logistics prove difficult with transitioning from the Olympics.