Russian premier Vladimir Putin (right) has big plans to put his country on the map of world-class sporting events. In 2014, the Black Sea resort town of Sochi will play host to the Winter Olympics. In 2018, Putin hopes to be hosting the World Cup. But not before the country secures its own Formula One grand prix.
The country's leader met with F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone on the matter and has reportedly inked a deal to host its very own race. While the Olympics are expected to cost Russia some $6.1 billion to put together, putting on the grand prix – reportedly secured for six years from 2014 through 2020 – is tipped to cost the country $200 million to build the track, and another $40 million in commercial rights each year. The plan reportedly involves building the circuit at the same Sochi location as the winter games, thereby neatly utilizing much of the same tourist infrastructure.
The emergence of a Russian Grand Prix has been in the making for some time, as participants from the world's largest country have been making inroads into Formula One. The Midland F1 team that followed Jordan Grand Prix and preceded the Spyker and current Force India teams was billed as the first Russian F1 team (despite being based in England), while this year Renault – which has been investing heavily in the Russian car market – brought in Vitaly Petrov as the sport's first Russian driver. The team has twice held promotional demonstration events in the country: one in Moscow and another in the proposed site at Sochi.
[Source: Bloomberg | Image: Mikhail Metzel/AP]