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Shooting linked to Moscow Formula 1 deal

TOM WALKINSHAW's confidence in his recent deal to build a Formula 1 track in Moscow will be shaken by the news that the man who negotiated the deal has been gunned down and his chauffeur killed. Joseph Ordzhonikidze, the deputy-mayor of Moscow, was critically injured on December 23 when two gunmen attacked his car in central Moscow. His chauffeur Ivan Petrin died at the scene after more than 30 bullets were sprayed into his Nissan car. Ordzhonikidze survived the attack but needed a four-hour operation to save his life.

The Moscow police are investigating the attack which came four days after Ordhonikidze signed the deal with TWR for the construction of an F1 race track on Nagatino Island. Rumors in Moscow suggest that the shooting is linked to the F1 deal with police sources suggesting that the deal angered the backers of a casino which had been proposed for the same site.

Sources at Tom Walkinshaw Racing were quoted as saying that the shooting would not delay the construction of the track but it remains to be seen if this is the reality. If all goes to plan the Nagatino site will include a casino, several hotels, a heliport and the race track.

Whatever the case the shooting is an embarrassment for Grand Prix racing which does not want to be linked with such activities. To date F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has avoided all deals with Russia because of the country's image of being run by organized crime. The shooting highlights that Ecclestone was right to adopt such a policy and he is likely to try to dissuade Walkinshaw from continuing the program. Bernie is in the control of all F1 venues and so is in a position to exert considerable pressure on the Arrows F1 team boss.

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