OCTOBER 28, 2003
The situation of F1 in Russia
R-Fast, the Russian Federation of Autosport and Tourism, the national sporting authority of Russia, has been giving details of its plans to increase motor racing activities in Russia. These date back to 1998 when R-FAST began working with the Moscow City Government on the idea of an international racing circuit in the city. A variety of sites were investigated, including Tushino airfield and sites in the Hodinskoe, Nagatino, Krilatskoe and Molzhaninovsky districts of the city. It was concluded that the Molzhaninovsky site, close to Sheremetievo International Airport was the best and an organization was established to develop the project. This led to discussions with the FIA and the Formula One Management and to an agreement for construction to be done by Germany's Tilke GmbH.
However the city government then threw a spanner in the works by deciding to switch allegiance to Tom Walkinshaw's project on Nagatino Island. When that fell apart earlier this year the Molzhaninovsky project was revived.
There is a second project to the south of Moscow being supported by the Moscow Regional Government, which is independent of the city authorities.
R-Fast says that having more than one racing circuit is not a problem as the country needs several such facilities if it is to develop a strong motor sport culture.
The aim remains for there to be a Formula 1 Grand Prix and talks have restarted with Bernie Ecclestone.
"The negotiations of year 2000 differ from negotiations of year 2003," says Igor Yermilin of R-Fast. "The World Championship has increased its international involvement considerably in the last three years. New deals have been signed with Bahrain, Turkey and China. The franchise fees have risen too. At the same time, the Moscow Government doesn't fully realize the possible impact of the Russian Grand Prix on Moscow. By the most conservative estimate, Moscow small and medium business will earn about $80m, part of which will be paid to the city in taxes. The aim is to demonstrate the advantages to them."
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