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F1 overlaps with Olympics in Russian GP move
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F1 overlaps with Olympics in Russian GP move
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Oct 2010   |  8:54 pm GMT  |  48 comments

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.”

Petrov: Putting F1 on map in Russia (Darren Heath)


Russia joins India, Korea and the Austin, Texas in the USA on the list of new venues for Grands Prix as F1 expands into new territories. This season Russia has had its first driver in F1, Vitaly Petrov, who has been racing for Renault. The team’s owner Gerard Lopez has been working hard to build business relationships with Russian companies, leveraging Petrov’s name and his own range of companies. Earlier this season the team did a deal which saw Lada appear on the car and work in a relationship with Renault.

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.

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48 Comments
  1. Rich Tysoe says:

    First Barcelona GP was 1991, wasn’t it?

    1. Galapago555 says:

      As far as I know, there has never been a “Barcelona GP” in the F1 calendar.

      I think that the first F1 race in Barcelona was in 1969, in the urban circuit of Montjuïc. There was a race in the same circuti in 1971, 1973 and 1975.

      First F1 race in Montmeló was in September 1991. Since that year, every year we’ve had a race in the circuit.

      The race, both in Montjuïc and in Montmeló, obviously, is called “Gran Premio de España de Fórmula 1″, in English “Formula 1 Grand Prix of Spain”.

      Never heard of a “Barcelona GP”, anyway.

      1. Jeremy J says:

        Wow.

  2. Wingers says:

    Now just bring a race to AFRICA Bernie!! To be Specific, South Africa, and Cape Town would be nice :-)

    1. tank says:

      No, Durban! ;)

      There was some talk a week or two back on autosport.com, of building a track near the new airport in Durbs… same one they drew out for CT.

      The whole thing seemed very unlikely as it was a deal that required long term government funding.

    2. Prisoner Monkeys says:

      I’ll second that. I’ve long believed that in order to be a true World Championship, Formula 1 needs to visit every major geopolitical region. As of 2010, the only ones that remain untouched are Russia, India and Africa; we’re getting India in 2011 and now Russia in 2014 is confirmed. That said, a race in Africa would be difficult to set up because a) money will always be an issue and b) it’s very isolated in comparison to the rest of the calendar. There’s only a handful of coutries that could manage it, anyway – South Africa for sure and maybe Mauritius, Egypt or Morocco.

      1. Charlie says:

        I vote for a race in Antarctica!

    3. Graeme Walker says:

      Or go back to Kylami, then I could practically walk there :)

  3. Stuart fenton says:

    Surely this means having petrov around is now very important? Maybe the russian that beat daniel riccardo in formula renault to?

  4. Rafael L says:

    I hope these circuits replace the boring ones…you never know with Bernie though.

    1. Stickman says:

      Its a worry.

      I hope that Spa isnt financed out of the equation!

    2. Chris Orr says:

      I agree with you there mate. But these boring circuits seem to have bought themselves a good deal with Bernie.
      I have nothing against Bahrain, but the circuit layout is poor.

  5. Tom Weaver says:

    James,
    With all these new races is there a plan to scrap some of the existing ones (hopefully not our humble event in Melbourne)? Or is it a case of the more, the merrier? 22 races or whatever this brings it up to seems a lot.

    1. James Allen says:

      Bernie has said 20 is the top, teams will need two sets of engineers and mechanics apart from anything else.

      1. Thomas, Canada says:

        19 races this year, including Korea, and 20 is the target, so there is room for the USA GP without sacrificing an existing venue.

        So, which race will be lost to India? James, please tell me it will be Valencia!!

        Hat’s off to Bernie.

      2. Joe says:

        With India being the 10th race next year, deals signed for Russia and the US, and rumours of a Rome grand prix in the future, that leaves at least 2 too many races. Turkey is on thin ice, any speculation on which races are the most likely to get dropped? I’m guessing the Euro GP gets moved from Spain to Rome, Turkey gets dropped for the US. I’d like to see Russia take the place of the Hungaroring, but that’s just wishful thinking, and knowing Bernie, he’ll probably drop Spa.

      3. Joe says:

        I meant India would be the 20th race.

      4. Tom says:

        Is there the possibility that 20 races is the minimum that a team would have to attend, and there wouldn’t be penalties for the backmarkers if Bernie added 20+ and they opted not to race at certain tracks? It would be a shame, but would it make too much difference?

  6. S.J.M says:

    Bernie comes out and says that 20 GPs is enough, and signs up more countries to host one. Who we going to loose? Id love to think it would be one of the boring tracks that none of the fans like such as China, Barelona or (hopefully) Dubai. But we know in our heart of hearts its probably the Spa’s & Suzukas or (god forbid) Monza.

    Wouldnt see Petrov having another Ace up his sleave with this to keep a seat, 2014 is 3 years away and he might not be in the sport then.

    1. mtb says:

      I wasn’t aware that there was an F1 race in Dubai.

  7. TS says:

    James,
    As a follow up to Tom Weavers post I would be interested to know which circuits you think might be dropped.

    Also how much might alternation enter the calender?

    It would make sense for Valencia and Barcalona to alternate, And for the proposed street race in Rome to alternate with Monza. Are these possibilities?

  8. Stephen Stuart says:

    All fingers (and everything else) crossed that Tilke won’t be allowed anywhere near it – time for fresh blood…

    1. Galapago555 says:

      Fully agree with you, mate. Crossing everything just to keep Tilke away from Russia…

      1. Mosq says:

        I would disappoint you guys, he’s already there…

  9. Nick T says:

    …so which venues will disappear from the calendar to make room for the Indian GP, US GP and now the Russian GP?

  10. MonzaOne says:

    I think China may disappear by then – according to the WSJ China a few months ago, there is fading support.

    Maybe Turkey because of lack of attendance and even Hungary [no money?] will be off the calendar by then.

    South Africa used to produce wonderful grands prix at Kyalami and I reckon it would be well attended, always.

  11. Paul says:

    Anything which extends the season for additional is all good by me!

  12. Rich says:

    Very worrying to think that the Americans might boycott an F1 race in Russia! That’s the last thing we F1is need. The American teams not turning up and making the grid. :-)

  13. Ed says:

    After all these years, Bernie’s finally got his wish!

    A race around an olympic site is a good idea as it solves all infrastructure and transport problems, and also gives you the opportunity to host big concerts in the stadia at night.

  14. Prisoner Monkeys says:

    I like it. I’m seeing bits of Monaco and Sepang and Aragon showing through. If is it indeed designed by Tilke, it’s certainly a departure for him – it looks very fast. I’ve heard claims that the race will be delayed to 2015, but I doubt them. The circuit will be worked into the Olympic Village, so if it’s ready for the Olympics, it will be ready for Formula 1, even if all the Russians need to do is erect barriers. All these rumours of New Delhi and Austin and now Sochi being delayed are no doubt coming out of Korea’s problems. Formula 1 fans are funny like that – as soon as something happens to someone or somewhere, we all suddenly believe that it will happen to everyone, everywhere. I’m also doubting the claims that a race will have to be sacrificed for the Russian Grand Prix – Bernie might have said that 20 races is the maximum the calendar can hold, but he has previously said that 16 was the most Formula 1 could manage. If Bernie wants 25 races (or whatever figure pops into your head), then Bernie will get 25 races. It’s just a case of optimising the calendar so that races that are close geographically are close on the calendar. Like a China-Korea-Japan run. It might sound like a lot, but if the teams are willing to re-format the race weekend to bring scruitineering back to Friday (as Christian Horner said, it’s wasteful and unnecessary to have teams at the circuit on a Wednesday), it could work.

    That pit lane looks awful small, though. If it’s to scale, then the rest of the circuit must be very large. Which means some of those straights are going to be monsters and those long corners are going to be fantastic. I especially like the way the first corner is a flat-out right-hander. How many circuits around the world have a first corner that is not designed as an overtaking point, much less one that is high speed? Silverstone and Magny-Cours are the only ones I can think of.

    I also really like that left kink after that long, arching corner across the back.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys says:

      Oops. You don’t have an image of the plan uploaded. Here’s one here, so I don’t sound like I’m babbling:

      http://img219.imageshack.us/img219/543/sochi.jpg

      Like I said, it looks fast.

      1. James Allen says:

        Any idea if its clockwise or anti clockwise? I like the look of anti.

      2. Prisoner Monkeys says:

        I … have no idea. Anti-clockwise seems to be the fad of late, but I think it looks equally good clockwise. I’d say it’s more likely going to be clockwise, because other images show the pit lane after the 180-degree bend on the upper-right and the way the lane feeds out would be dangerous if that corner was the first. That said, the image showed a very small pit lane, so it could have just been placed there for effect.

        http://img195.imageshack.us/img195/5947/61258.jpg

        It looks like an awkward place for the pit lane, but it also seems to be the only place it might fit.

        I’ve also heard through word of mouth (so it’s not as iron-clad a source as I’d like, but the person who told me was the person who supplied that image half an hour before anyone ran a news story on it) that Bernie “hopes” he won’t have to cut any races to accomodate Sochi, which I’m interpreting as a desire to expand the calendar again; that the race has been scheduled for the Russian autumn, so it will probably take Monza’s place as the final race of the European season (Monza would be the second-last); and that the Russian government wants a Formula 1 team soon. I’ve hear Nikolai Fomenko, who owns Marussia – Russia’s first supercar manufacturer and one of Virgin’s sponsors – wants into the sport some time in the future.

        I’ve also done a little bit of research to address the common criticism that Formula 1 is going to another country is has no business being in – Russia has more racing drivers in open-wheel series (Vitaly Petrov, Mikhail Aleshin, Ivan Samarin, Ivan Lukashevich, Daniil Move, Sergey Afanasyev, Anton Nebylitskiy, Daniil Kyvat and Max Snegriev) than Turkey, China, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, South Korea and India combined. I’d add America in there because they only really have Newgarden, Rossi and Sumemrton in the European series, but they also have Indycar. The point is that Russia is becoming very relevant to motorsport. I’ve long believed that Russia is one of the three major geopolitical regions (the others being South Africa and India; and we’re going to India next year) that Formula 1 needs to go to in order to be a true World Championship.

  15. Peter Abatan says:

    I think if Bernie would like more races, and I think it can be achieved using reserve drivers.

    So assuming the desire is to extend the number of races in a year to 26. 20 races would contribute to both the drivers and constructor’s championship, while the remaining 6 races would only contribute to the constructors championships and will be driven by each team’s reserve drivers. This will help develop new talent within F1.

    I think running with this idea may give the smaller teams a chance of improving their positions in the contructor’s championship. The final product is that F1 fans get to see more races and the Formula One Administration increases its revenue stream, which means the teams should also benefit.

    Do you see any merits or disadvantages with this idea? What are your thoughts on this James?

    1. James Allen says:

      Problem is it dilutes the F1 brand. You have to be very careful. F1 is the best of the best racing each other for a world title.

    2. Mark says:

      Crazy, who is going to want to watch “reserve drivers” who are not even competing for the WDC? There would be little interest apart from die hard fans. It would be like having two championships in one season, and dilute it as James says.

      1. Peter Abatan says:

        Mark, I am not sure you appreciate the talent it takes to drive an F1 car. Yes, James may be right about the idea diluting the championship, but you need to remember that some of the reserve drivers are equally good, the unfortunate thing is that there are only 22 seats per season.

        Did you see the Richard Hammond in top gear when he drove the Renault F1 car? It will help you appreciate the talent of reserve drivers.

      2. Mark says:

        Trust me, I fully appreciate their talent, that is not under question at all, and I know how difficult F1 cars are to drive.

        I’ve been an F1 fan for many years had have good knowledge of the sport, and yes, I did see the Richard Hammond article and other previous, similar articles by other people.

        What I was questioning was why most people would want to watch reserve drivers, driving in essentially six token races every year that had nothing to do with the WDC. Not because of their lack of skill or talent, but because of who they are, or rather who they are not, and the fact they are not contending the WDC.

  16. Matt W says:

    They need to make sure that the track isn’t as generic as a lot of the recent additions. Street circuits aside, the majority of all the new circuits seem far too similar.

    Less “impressive” buildings to wow the reporters, more interesting landscape and circuit design to wow the viewers.

  17. Chris Orr says:

    Check out the f1 circuits page on wikipedia. It shows you which circuits have signed deals into the future, and which dont.
    Theres a few classics which dont have deals yet, and it will be tragic to see them go.

  18. Ben G says:

    Suspect it will be 2015 – it’ll be hard to turn everything round in the same year as the Olympics.

    If only our Olympics weren’t in the depths of Stratford, we could do the same for a London Grand Prix.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys says:

      The circuit will likely be built into the Olympic Village as it goes. The Olympics will be held in February; the race is likely to take place in September.

  19. Antony Biondi says:

    James,

    Great news that F1 is again reaching out to all four corners of the globe, but I have a concern that maybe you could shed some light on?

    Off the top of my head I believe there are 20 races next year, and if I recall, I believe BE claimed that this would be the max ever within one F1 season. So, with the likes of India, Rome, US and Russia now looking for slots over the next few years, are we in danger of losing some of the most iconic tracks on the calendar, Spa, Suzuka, dare I say it, Monza?

    After all, these are the tracks that have made F1 what it is and are the tracks that everyone wants to go and see.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m in full support of new venues and new projects, but not at the expense of the greats.

    1. James Allen says:

      I”ve got a post coming up on that to answer your question

  20. Nathan says:

    So actually it doesn’t overlap at all.

  21. nash says:

    I think is a real smart move by the Russians and Sotchi, as after the olympics the town and facilities will not die away into ghost-status.

    As for Russian drivers, I am impressed by this Aleshin kid… although Petrov impressed me last year as well. It makes you wonder about Renault’s mishandling of Petrov… they are clearly using the Flavio Briatore way of increasing pressure on the younger driver and making him loose confidence race by race… shame…

  22. John Player says:

    Imagine, Red Bull is going to change its front wing after first practice session, but they cant, because OMON is sitting alongside and shouting “noooo!”. Petrov wins wih his LADA, fighters following him to the flag.

    I have heard that the building process of the Olympic facilities has been quite hard for environment and locals are not too happy with the situation. If this is really the case, f1 throws its green proposals out of the window again.
    China is already enjoying positive publicity, that hosting a GP offers. Whats next, North Korean GP?

    1. Prasanna Madhavan says:

      NEXT is IRAQ my friend. With all the money they make now with OIL export. Thy can offer bernie loads of them

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