Breaking: Russia to host F1 race in 2014October 14, 2010
The plot has thickened on the Russian connection with Formula 1. According to Bloomberg, a deal for the Russian Grand Prix will be signed today between F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. The event could be attended by Vladamir Putin in a high-profile promotion that would have the F1 circus racing in Russia in 2014.
The contract talks took place yesterday at the Black Sea resort of Sochi which is the proposed location for the circuit and is also host to the 2014 Winter Olympics. It seems that Ecclestone has inked a deal worth $40 million a year for the privilege of hosting the race and the facility could cost as much as $200 million according to Russian paper Kommersant.
The plot thickens a tad as Renault driver Vitaly Petrov is rumored to be struggling to keep his ride and while Russia attempts to polish its image with the Olympics and World Cup bid, it seems important that the young man stay in the series with the right financial backing…the backing Putin said he would give Petrov. So far, Renault have had a few Russian-based sponsors for limited or one-race sponsor deals but no large title sponsors have stepped forward.
Ecclestone certainly can cut a deal but the driver issue is a tad more difficult. You will recall Ecclestone promoted the career of Karun Chandhok to bolster the upcoming Indian Grand Prix but he was sat on the bench in favor of Sakon Yamamoto and the money the Japanese driver could bring to the struggling team. Renault are equally rumored to be financially strapped and while Ecclestone would most likely be in favor of the French team retaining Petrov, the reality of the sponsor dollars young drivers are expected to bring may scuttle that notion.
Time will tell and a lack of a seat at Renault may not mean the end of Petrov’s career but the lack of long-term sponsor dollars could.