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Over 166,000 people visit Sochi over weekend for Russia’s first F1 GP

October 15, 2014, 15:57 UTC+3 SOCHI
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© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

SOCHI, October 15. /TASS/. Over 166,000 people, including at least 500 high-ranking guests from Russia and abroad, visited the Black Sea coastal city of Sochi over the last weekend for Russia’s first ever Formula One Grand Prix, Russian organizers of the event said on Wednesday.

According to Sochi AutoDrom, pilots of F1 teams gave over a thousand autographs to their fans throughout the racing event, held on October 10-12. Two fan zones were set up on the territory of the Olympic Park, where Russia’s first ever F1 racing track was built.

The fan zones in the Olympic Park provided F1 visitors with souvenir shops, food courts and pavilions containing computerized simulators resembling a virtual F1 racing, more commonly referred to as a racing bolide.

“In all, over 15,000 people had a chance to try a virtual bolide over the weekend,” the press service of the Sochi AutoDrom said. “Visitors bought over 50,000 souvenir products. There were organized a total of 140 food services area, which on the average sold daily over 30 metric tons of food and 50 tons of drinks. There were prepared 12,000 lunch boxes as well as 22,000 sandwiches for Sochi AutoDrom staff, volunteers and race marshals.”

Live television coverage of the race in Sochi, which was provided by Russia’s Rossiya-2 channel, was watched by 3.4 million people across Russia and it was three times as many compared with the figure of Russian viewers watching other F1 Grand Prix races.

The winner of Russia’s Grand Prix in Sochi Lewis Hamilton said that Russia’s GP in the southern resort city of Sochi was the best ever F1 racing this year.

“It was a good day and amazing weekend,” Hamilton said on Sunday night. “Russia has been the favorite place for me this year.”

“I did not know that F1 was something that people followed here [in Russia]. I saw thousands of people and they were enthusiastic about the event,” Hamilton said.

Britain’s Hamilton from team Mercedes started the race from the pole position on Sunday’s sunny afternoon in Sochi and maintained the lead throughout the race to win the historical Russian GP. His Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg finished in the second place some 15 seconds behind Hamilton.

Finnish racer Valterri Botas from team Williams was the third of the world’s fastest racers to finish 53 laps of the Sochi GP circuit.

Last 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.

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 Vladimir Putin and F1 chief executive Bernie 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.

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