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Russia's Putin races Formula One car in new stunt UPDATE See photos here and we added a video below.

11/07/10 In a helmet emblazoned with the emblem of Russia and reaching a speed of 240 kilometers (150 miles) an hour, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Sunday burned rubber on a racing circuit in a Formula One car.

The high-speed session -- unthinkable for almost any other world leader -- was the latest in a series of widely publicized hardman outings for Putin as he seeks to cement his image as the Russian strongman ahead of 2012 elections.

It was also aimed at raising the profile of the sport in Russia as the country prepares to host its first Formula One Grand Prix from 2014 in the southern city of Sochi, under a plan championed by Putin.

State television showed Putin squeezing into the cockpit of the yellow Renault, wearing full racing overalls and a helmet emblazoned with the colors of Russia and the national emblem of the double-headed-eagle.

"My old Zaporozhets had more space," Putin quipped through his visor as he squeezed into the tiny cockpit, referring to a Soviet car not known for its creature comforts, the government website said.

But undeterred by the cramped conditions, Putin roared away from the pits onto the racing track outside Saint Petersburg, reaching what trackside experts said was a speed of 240 kilometers an hour.

"For a first time, it was good," the prime minister, unusually using English, told a senior Renault mechanic, television showed. The government statement said he spent several hours performing laps.

Putin pushed the car so hard that at one point he overcooked a corner and ending up coming to a halt in a spin, television pictures showed. Over the summer, Putin had spoken of the exhilaration of "living dangerously".

The test drive also coincided with the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo.

Putin's blast around the track was in a different speed category to his last public motoring excursion, when he drove across Siberia this summer in a bright yellow Lada Kalina.

After meeting a polar bear in the Far North and chasing a whale in the rough seas of the Pacific this year alone, observers could have been forgiven for thinking Putin had by now exhausted most options for tough-guy exploits. Yahoo! Sports

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