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Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Dec 2013   |  8:16 am GMT  |  16 comments

One announcement that didn’t get much traction over the Christmas period, but which is significant nevertheless, was Richard Cregan’s move from Abu Dhabi to Russia, to oversee delivery of the new Russian GP at Sochi.

The inaugural Russian race is scheduled for October, on a repurposed track set on the site of the Winter Olympics which take place in a few weeks from now.

The event has had a long gestation, backed by Russian president Vladimir Putin, and has not been without its difficulties. It’s a young team at Sochi, full of enthusiasm, but there have been mountains to climb to get the event to this point. But it’s vitally important for both the country and the sport that the event is delivered and is a success.

There is always a significant cultural adjustment to be made on both sides when F1 engages with a new circuit, promoter and federation in a new country. The Chinese, for example, didn’t understand that they needed to pay Ecclestone to host a race, rather than the other way around. Some circuits, like Bahrain, hire in F1 expertise at the outset and are able to accommodate the requirements and idiosyncrasies of the teams, without problems. Cregan’s move to Russia – albeit quite late in the day – is designed to achieve that.

Cregan is a former senior manager of the Toyota F1 team, who left before the team was closed down (seeing the writing on the wall) and turned himself into a circuits guru. He delivered Abu Dhabi, arguably the most advanced F1 facility in the world, on time and has presided over it for the last five years.

Now he’s taking his skills to Russia, no doubt with the encouragement of Bernie Ecclestone and F1 Management who want to ensure that Sochi comes through. He will stay for the initial few years at the circuit and then, no doubt, move on to a similar project with a new venue.

In this sense, Cregan has replaced Philipe Gurdjian, who was always the man Ecclestone parachuted into a new venue if he felt it needed some help on delivery and completion.

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16 Comments
  1. Elie says:

    Nice bit of info & great reflective perspective on China James because for a while I believed it was F1 paying to hold an event in a country. When you think about it, It’s incredible the respect F1 commands in such powerful political landscapes given those countries do not field teams and in fact Motorsport is not very special to them. But as has become common place media coverage is a powerful gateway to popularity and F1 certainly thrives in that environment.

    James what’s is Richard Cregans managerial background – is it operations?. Sochi is one GP I have been anxious to see as Russia doesn’t have the exposure of the west and they have a lot of potential with many wealthy people there. The winter Olympics will be a great introduction to the GP and I only hope that the organisers capitalise on its marketing opportunities in these coming weeks. Certainly hope they do a bit more than Austin did- but something tells me it’s unlikely.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes Richard was mainly in operations, logistics etc at Toyota. He was there for many years before F1 – did their Le Mans programme etc

  2. CNSZU says:

    This is one of those mega cool jobs, to be “parachuted” around the world, bringing expertise that only you have, to fix high profile glamour projects and getting undoubtedly paid very handsomely at the same time. Makes me a little envious.

  3. Goggomobil. says:

    Having had an opportunity of involment with
    business and in social sphere with the Russian
    I have find they are incredibly loaded with
    pride in particular the field of high Tech and
    Scince.They have money,”Lot of It”, to top it
    of Putin wants to show the World what a Macho
    man he is, Sochi is an incredible undertaking
    by any measure,cost will exceed $US.50 Billion
    Mr Putin has his signature on it,the rest is assured it will be perhaps the best F1 event
    of the last decade, its a very reason why Mr
    Richard Cregan has been hired.
    When money is not the object everything is
    possible.

  4. Sebee says:

    Schumi hurt skiing!

    Taken to hospital. Oh my goodness, I hope he’s alright.

    1. Sebee says:

      Some report serious head injury. Confirmed helicopter ambulance took him.

  5. Quade says:

    All the vibes from the Russian gp are sort of scary. Lets hope Putin pulls the thing off.

    1. Tom Chiverton says:

      “All the vibes from Russia are sort of scary. Lets hope Putin puts people off.”

      FTFY.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Is that a deliberate misquote?

      2. Tom Chiverton says:

        Whoosh. Look over there – a point, waaayyy up there over your head :-)
        http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/russia-harassment-will-continue-despite-putin-s-amnesty-2013-12-23 for instance

        Doesn’t seem worthwhile risking the trip tbh…

      3. Random 79 says:

        Seems like it would be safe enough…provided one keeps one’s mouth closed.

        I’ll be staying home then ;)

  6. Omniprescient says:

    F1 in Russia… Wouldn’t normally go there for entertainment, for several reasons. Those who dare, be careful, go alone (no kids) if you do. Some of the commentators clearly have no clue of what they enthuse so much about. It is just another bought race, and not BY any private investor. In any case, wait well after Olympics before booking tickets. Honest.

    1. Tom Chiverton says:

      +1

  7. Rich C says:

    Still waiting for all the human rights activists here to start whining about this race like they do Bahrain.

    1. Dave M says:

      Do you not think human rights are important?

      1. Rich C says:

        Ofc but where is the outrage? Is it only important in Bahrain for our fellow posters here? But apparently not in China or Russia? A bit selective don’t you think?

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