Bernie eyes Olympic sites for F1 races
“I know that you have been discussing the plans to build a track for Formula One races with the Soviet and Russian leadership for a long time,” Putin said to Ecclestone.
|Map showing where Sochi lies in relation to Europe|
“You even discussed this issue in person with Leonid Brezhnev. Finally, after decades of negotiations, we have reached a solution. We are happy about this for several reasons. First of all, thanks to your efforts, Formula One has become extremely popular and counts millions of fans all around the world. This was all made possible by your efforts and your talent.
"Now, I hope, we will be able to bring everything you have developed over these decades to Russia and use it on Russian soil. This is very important for us because we have to use everything we build for the 2014 Olympics to its fullest, including the infrastructure and hotels. There are other reasons for our enthusiasm. This new Formula One track will provide our drivers and Russian motorsport with another good, modern venue for training and competitions. This will get a lot of young people interested in sports, particularly motorsports.”
Ecclestone said that he has been trying to do deals to use all the Olympic venues after the Olympics.
|Sochi Track layout|
“In all the Olympic cities I have been to so far these venues are often almost never used after the games,” he said. “I think it is very important that these things are thought through properly, and, obviously, that is being done in Sochi.”
Putin said that the plan was entirely logical.
“It makes sense to build the track here,” he said. “We have to build a section of the road anyway. It will help make the project significantly cheaper. It is much cheaper than building the entire track from scratch in the middle of nowhere. First, it costs less, and, second, it will fit better here and allow us to fully utilize all the facilities and infrastructure created for the Olympics. So the money will not be wasted.”
Putin said that the company that will be formed will be a public-private partnership.
“It should consist of interested private companies, national companies that would be interested in promoting their products and also those having direct connections to the auto industry,” he said. “Formula One is not only the most prestigious car racing competition, but also a display of the achievements made in automotive technology.”
Sochi is a resort sometime called “the summer capital” of Russia. The city is a popular destination for Russian holidaymakers in the summer but there is much potential to expand tourism as hotels tend to be only half-filled for the rest of the year. The climate in the region is unique as a result of the Caucasus Mountains meeting the sea, creating a sub-tropical microclimate that is not unlike that of Monte Carlo. The beaches are lined with palm trees, but in the mountains behind there are ski resorts.