Why Russia and China are important to F1

Formula 1 has moved to become a more global championship in recent years, expanding out of Europe to embrace new events in the United States, the Middle East and China. The desire exists in F1 circles to expand more in America but also to get into the big Russian market and to build up more of a following for the sport in the US, China and in India. The pressure to expand into these markets is growing on F1 teams and there will be further pressure with the news that DaimlerChrysler has won Chinese government approval to make Mercedes-Benz cars at a joint venture factory in Beijing. The factory is already under construction and the first cars should appear by the end of this year. The factory would have a capacity of 25,000 cars a year.

Meanwhile, Toyota has just broken ground on the construction of a new assembly plant in St Petersburg in Russia, a sign that confidence is growing in the country's emerging consumer market. The factory will be Toyota's first foray into Russia and will produce around 50,000 cars a year.

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