SEPTEMBER 2, 2002
Reports are coming out of Russia about plans for a new bid for a Formula 1 Grand Prix with Moscow being ditched and St. Petersburg being picked as the venue. Bernie Ecclestone was reportedly back in Moscow last week trying to talk to Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor, but was unable to get a meeting and had to talk to Valeri Shantsev, a deputy mayor. On previous visits Ecclestone has met with Luzhkov.
It is reported that Ecclestone was told that the Moscow projects are off and that he then flew to St. Petersburg to have talks there as the city is keen to do an F1 deal.
What no-one seems able to explain is why this has happened although local press reports have put the problems down to poor negotiators. There is no doubt that sudden changes of direction in the negotiations have surprised Ecclestone and there is a suspicion, which was boosted by quotes from the Russian police, that two assassination attempts on Iosif Ordzhonikidze, the deputy mayor who was behind the project, were related to the F1 plan.
The strange goings-on in Moscow would seem to have condemned the race but St. Petersburg may help save the idea. Even if that can be done another race seems a little absurd in that there are already far too many venues being planned than there are fixtures available. Russia is a big potential market for F1 sponsors but races in Bahrain and Shanghai, plus schemes in Beirut, Turkey and Egypt all have potential benefits for the sport - as do more races in the United States.
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