AUGUST 16, 1999
Russia dreams of F1
RUSSIA continues to dream about hosting a Formula 1 Grand Prix and recently a Lebanese businessman with the unlikely name of Koueider von Heidebrand und der Lasa announced that he is planning to build a Formula 1 standard racing circuit close to the town of Tula, 80 miles to the south of Moscow.
The project is to be entirely funded by private money - if it can be found . To date Von Heidebrand und der Lasa has only financed a design study, carried out by an Italian company called Studio d'Architecture e Design from Chiasso. The plan drawn up includes a 3.1-mile race track, with a hotel, conference center and theme park built alongside. The design features a number of corner profiles copied from other tracks - much as was the case when Magny-Cours was designed. Before work begins he hopes to get FIA clearance for the track.
At the same time Oleg Iarovoy is promoting a rival circuit to the north of Moscow, close to the Sheremetyevo International Airport. This would be located in an area where there are no problems with noise pollution. Iarovoy is a leading player on the automotive scene in Russia.
Both projects are likely to be handicapped by the fact that the country currently has two automobile federations which are competing for control of motor sport in the country. Even if these problems can be overcome and money can be found to fund the projects, the Russians still need to convince the F1 circus to visit Russia, which many in the F1 paddock feel does not have the right image for F1 because of the power of organized crime inside the country.
Grand Prix racing did consider visiting Russia in the 1980s but negotiations with the Soviet authorities broke down.
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