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Germany’s Vettel from team Red Bull visited the long-awaited Russian venue for F1 racing twice before this month and twice with David Coulthard. On both occasions they took a trial spin of the track that was still under construction.
“I had an opportunity to take the car on the track,” Vettel said commenting on his previous two attempts to drive along the Sochi planned racing route in a factory-built car of his sponsors, which were Infiniti.
The famed German racer said he had never piloted a car on the track in the Black Sea city of Sochi, which in this case spins across all the magnificent facilities erected in the Olympic Park.
“It is very exciting to have the first ever Russian Grand Prix and to be part of it,” Vettel said.
F1’s last weekend event at Japan’s Suzuka left all the racers of the world questioning their safety and their plans for the future of racing.
Last weekend’s rain-affected F1 race in Japan was concluded earlier by the decision of FIA officials after French pilot Jules Bianchi, 25, from Marussia team had crashed into the back of a tractor, which was clearing debris in a run-off area from a previous incident. The French pilot was seriously injured and, while unconscious, taken to a hospital in Japan.
“Thoughts are with Jules and his family. Surely when something happens there is something to learn,” Vettel said.
Bianchi remains in a hospital in Japan, he is in coma and his doctors refrain from making public announcements about his condition, but, according to earlier media reports, the young French racer is in critical condition.
The Russian Grand Prix is held at the racing track located 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 of Russia Vladimir Putin and F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone.
A total of some 50,000 tickets available were sold out for the Russian F1 event in Sochi with 5,000 tickets out of the mentioned-above figure purchased by foreign guests.
F1 supremo Ecclestone, who arrived in Sochi on Wednesday night, said that Russian President Putin had been “completely supportive” to make the F1 racing come to Russia as the F1 chief executive had been trying to make this happen since the late 1970s.
“I was trying to do something in the early ‘80s or late ‘70s actually. It just taken a bit longer than we thought,” Ecclestone told TASS on Thursday.