After trying for decades it looks as though Bernie Ecclestone will finally succeed in bringing F1 to Russia in 2014.
Having missed the Japanese GP Ecclestone is in Sochi today with Vladimir Putin, who has made his support for Vitaly Petrov and Renault clear in the past by helping to direct sponsorship their way.
Reuters reports today that ‘government sources’ say a five-year deal has been agreed from 2014. That does at least give the Russians three complete years during which to get the project together, which should avoid the hassles faced by Korea and Austin, who faced a much tighter schedule.
Inevitably it means that there will be even more reason for Renault to keep Petrov on board next year as interest in Russia builds.
Sochi will host the Winter Olympics in February 2014, and presumably the preparations for that mean that F1 cannot go there any earlier. A huge effort is being put in to improve transport links, including modernisation of the airport.
Intriguingly there have been a lot of environmental concerns regarding the Olympics, which caused some events to be moved. It remains to be seen how much of a welcome F1 receives.
By strange co-incidence Sochi’s twin cities include Long Beach and Monaco neighbour Menton – plus Espoo, home town of several Finnish F1 drivers…