Ecclestone confirms Azerbaijan but could Russian Grand Prix be in doubt?

Ecclestone confirms Azerbaijan but could Russian Grand Prix be in doubt?

F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed plans for the invention of a new F1 race in Azerbaijan.

He said: “We’re going to Azerbaijan. The people out there are talking about holding a race in 2015.”

The F1 supremo also remains hopeful of staging the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Olympic Park in October. However the race could be in jeopardy if the political situation continues in Ukraine, leaving oil-rich Azerbaijan as the sport’s first destination in the former Soviet Union.
Should the race in Sochi go ahead, it would be the first time in 100 years that Russia will have hosted a Grand Prix. The Formula One World Championship would be staged at Sochi International Street Circuit on October 12th and would mark the sixteenth race of the F1 season.

The circuit would use the infra-structure created for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The racing circuit would be the third-longest on the racing tour, at a little more than 3.6 miles, and will use roads within the Olympic Park as well as public roads.

A third and final layer of asphalt will be laid after the Paralympics. A paddock has already been built on the fringe of the park.

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The Russian Grand Prix was first run in St. Petersburg in 1913 and again in 1914. But World War I broke out and the racing circuit didn’t return. Russian president Vladimir Putin has strongly supported the return of Formula One to his country. The government has set aside nearly $200 million for the race, which comes on top of the $51 billion delegated to the Games themselves.

F1 season counts down to opening

The first race of the F1 season takes place on March 16th with the 2014 F1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Meanwhile Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit will host the final round of the season, the first time it has done so since 2010. The 2010 race was the only time in F1 history that four drivers arrived at the final race with a chance of winning the title, with Sebastian Vettel triumphing.

One potential benefit of moving Yas Marina to the final week of the season is the venue can host post-season test sessions immediately after the race as teams begin work on their 2015 cars. The first two stagings of the grand prix in 2009 and 2010 saw it serve as the season finale, before it became the penultimate race in 2011 and the third-last event the past two seasons.

The change of date and place on the calendar for Abu Dhabi is among many made by the FIA, with the races in New Jersey, Mexico and South Korea being removed from the originally planned 22.

India has also been stripped from the calendar, though race promoters are hoping to return in 2015, while Austria is back after a decade away from the sport.