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Over 100,000 spectators expected at Russia’s first ever F1 GP in Sochi

May 30, 2014, 17:14 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Grand Prix in Russia’s Sochi was scheduled for October 12 as the 16th out of 19 F1 Grand Prix races in 2014
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© ITAR-TASS/Artur Lebedev

MOSCOW, May 30. /ITAR-TASS/. Initial estimations of spectators’ turnout at Russia’s first ever Formula-1 Grand Prix, to be held in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi this fall, suggest that over 100,000 people would attend the so-called royal racing three-day weekend, a chief organizer of the upcoming global sports event said on Friday.

In December, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) officially announced the calendar of the 2014 Formula One races, and the Grand Prix in Russia’s Sochi was scheduled for October 12 as the 16th out of 19 F1 Grand Prix races this year.

“According to our modest, but feasible estimations, over 100,000 spectators will be present during the three days of the Grand Prix,” Sergei Vorobyov, the promoter and the man in charge of the Sochi GP organization, said.

He said 40% of spectators were expected to come watch the race from the country’s southern Krasnodar Territory, where Sochi is located, and 30% from the Russian capital of Moscow.

Ticket prices for the Sochi GP, which went on sale starting today, will range between 5,000 and 200,000 rubles ($145-5,800), Vorobyov said, adding that the pricing policy was based on tickets’ sales for F1 GPs in other countries and the recently held Olympics.

In February and March, the Russian resort city of Sochi hosted the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, which, according to international sports officials, athletes and visitors, were organized at the highest level possible and provided up-to-date infrastructure at all levels.

“Owing to the Olympics, Sochi turned into the city with outstanding accessibility. Racing fans will have no problems at all with transportation,” Vorobyov said adding he hoped that Russian President Vladimir Putin would also attend the Russian GP.

“It will be very pleasant, if he (Putin) arrives in Sochi,” Vorobyov said. “We are preparing for this.”

The Russian F1 race promoter said this year’s Grand Prix in Sochi would start on October 12 at 3.00 pm local time (11.00 am GMT), but in the future years the Sochi GP would turn into a night race, similar to Singapore and Abu-Dhabi GPs.

“The GP starts at 3.00 pm, but one of the following races may be held at night,” he said. “We like this variant and sooner or later we will implement it.”

Putin and Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone met in Sochi in the wake of the Winter Olympics, which ran between February 7 and 23. At that meeting F1 supremo Ecclestone suggested that it would be interesting to hold Sochi GP in the night time.

“At night the stadiums are very colourful with lots of lights and the backdrop to a race would be fantastic,” Britain’s The Times daily quoted Ecclestone as saying at that time.

The Russian Grand Prix will be held at the racing track, which is currently under the final construction stage near the Olympic Village in the coastal area of Sochi. The contract to include Russia in the calendar of F1 racing for the 2014-2020 period was signed in 2010 in Sochi by then-Prime Minister Putin and F1 chief Ecclestone.

About three weeks after the contract was signed Putin, known for his avid support of sports development in Russia, gunned down a F1 bolide on a race track outside Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg. In what can be called the ‘fastest president in the world,’ he reached a speed of 240 kmph (150 mph). His racing lap added to his previous motorized stunts, which included piloting fighter jets and strategic bombers as well as riding Harley Davidson motorcycles with Russian bikers.

The 61-year-old president is also a black belt holder in judo and he regularly practices. Two years ago the International Judo Federation granted him an eighth Dan for his work to promote this sport. In his youth Putin was judo champion of his home town Leningrad, now called St. Petersburg. In 2008, he starred in the judo video "Let's Learn Judo With Vladimir Putin".

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