Russians struggle to keep F1 dream alive

The much talked-about Russian Grand Prix is not quite dead - at least not according to the head of the Moscow Tourist Board Grigory Antyufeyev. He told the Izvestia newspaper that he was sure that the race "will happen, as we have planned, in 2004".

Antyufeyev admits that the final contract for the race still has to be signed but added that the city has a preliminary contract signed between the authorities and the Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone.

In recent weeks Antyufeyev was heavily attacked by the Russian media over the Grand Prix project and there have been strong suggestions that the race is not going to happen. There is now talk in Moscow of the revival of an older idea to hold the race at a site near Sheremetyevo international airport.

The arrival of Gazprom as a sponsor of Minardi will add to the pressure for the government to come up with a plan - but with so many new projects under development at the moment, Moscow may have missed its chance again.

In the early 1980s Bernie Ecclestone tried hard to negotiate a deal with the Soviet authorities but when that failed he signed a deal with Budapest.

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