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GP Week : Issue 161
One of the quieter rumours doing the rounds of the F1 paddock in recent months has been the story that the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi is never going to happen – instead, the race will be moved to Moscow, a city that better suits the interests of the Russian government. The notion of using the Sochi site for a grand prix circuit after the town holds the 2014 Winter Olympics is an admirable one in terms of venue repurposing, but there have long been concerns from the IOC that the logistics of shutting down their event while setting up for Formula One simply isn’t possible. Originally the IOC’s concerns led to rumours that the Russian race would be pushed back to 2015, but recently re-elected president Vladimir Putin is believed to be keen to see a race slightly closer to home. Putin’s home town of St Petersburg is not an option at present, and Moscow is seen as an acceptable alternative in the Kremlin. While stories of a Moscow race have been doing the rounds since the early 1980s, the current version gained legs this week when it emerged that FIA race director Charlie Whiting had inspected the newly-built Moscow Raceway and found that it would be an acceptable venue for Formula One. “It’s been built to the highest standards, the attention to detail is second to none and I think the circuit itself is Formula One standard,” Whiting told Russian news agency RIA Novosti following his visit to the Raceway. “Mr. Ecclestone has reached the agreement with the people in Sochi, one assumes, so that’s where we’ll be racing. But this circuit is suitable for Formula One cars to race on.” But despite the race director’s comments, Moscow Raceway is not currently homologated to Formula One standard. Instead, it holds the FIA’s 1T rating, and would not be allowed to host an F1 race until that classification is upgraded. Luckily for the circuit – and for the gossips – classification changes fall under Whiting’s remit. The Hermann Tilke-designed Moscow Raceway is located in the city of Volokolamsk, 50 miles from the Russian capital, and will have an initial capacity of 40,000, eventually rising to 100,000 when the construction work is complete. The track will host its first event next weekend – a round of the World Series by Renault championship. WHITING’S MOSCOW VISIT TRIGGERS SOCHI RUMOURS 3 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS