Russian Formula One Grand Prix Offers Sochi Future After Winter Olympic Games
F1's newest venue "is a fenced-off building site, lines of skips and diggers parked along what will be the main straight, on the rubble-strewn fringes of an otherwise glittering Sochi Olympic Park," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. Spectators entering the Park on a balmy winter's day with tickets for the hottest show in town -- Olympic figure skating or ice hockey -- "may not even realise they are walking along part of a racetrack." It "will be very different in eight months' time when what organisers hope will be a lasting legacy of the Winter Olympics takes shape in a much noisier and faster form" -- Russia's first F1 Grand Prix on Oct. 12. Organizers said that "all is on schedule, even if the attention is currently on very different sports and brand new arenas a short stroll away." Race promoter Oleg Zabara said, "Construction of the autodrome in Sochi keeps moving forward. All works are being carried out according to the schedule. The racing track is 91 percent complete. Everything is according to plan, and there aren't any problems during Olympic period." Zabara said that "fitting out the interior of the main grandstand and the laying of the third and final layer of asphalt on the track would be carried out once the Olympics and Paralympics were out of the way." A decision "would be made soon on whether to hold a test event on the circuit at the end of September and tickets will go on sale from March 4 through the promoter's website to be launched later this month." Russia "signed a seven-year deal" with F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone in '10 with the project "to build the country's first purpose-built circuit" costing $200M, a fraction of the amount lavished on the Olympics. While Olympic legacy projects "are usually directed to improving the environment or facilities for those sports featured in the Games, Sochi 2014 is unusual in its focus on motor sport." Zabara: "Hosting competitions of such a high level as the Formula One Russian Grand Prix gives an additional impulse to the post-Olympic development of the resort city" (REUTERS, 2/13).