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NOVO-OGARYOVO, September 30. /TASS/. Russia is currently in talks with FIA on the extension of its contract for holding Formula One Grand Prix in the country’s southern city of Sochi after the year 2020, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said on Wednesday.
Speaking on Wednesday at a session of ministers with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kozak also said that there were also talks underway of switching the F1 race in Sochi from daytime to nighttime.
"We are currently holding talks on the extension of the contract, which expires in 2020, as well as on the change of the race from daytime to nighttime, since such race is more popular," Kozak said. "There is some progress and also great interest on behalf of our Russian investors."
When heard about the proposal of holding the race at nighttime, Putin said, "Night racing? You will not be able to see a thing."
"On the contrary, they will be more beautiful," Kozak said replying to the president’s words and added that F1 GP races in Abu Dhabi and Singapore were always held in nighttime.
The 2015 F1 season kicked off with the Australian Grand Prix on March 15, while Russia’s GP is scheduled for October 11 - the 17th out of 21 GPs on this year’s racing calendar.
Over 166,000 people, including at least 500 high-ranking guests from Russia and abroad, visited Sochi between October 10 and 12 last year for Russia’s first-ever Formula One Grand Prix.
Live television coverage of the race, provided by Russia’s Rossiya-2 channel, gathered over 3.4 million people across Russia, three times as many compared with the figure of Russian viewers watching other F1 Grand Prix races on average. The winner of Russia’s Sochi race, Lewis Hamilton, said it was the best F1 racing of the 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 Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone. In December 2013, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) officially announced the calendar for 2014 Formula One races and the Grand Prix in Sochi was scheduled for October 12 as the 16th of 19 F1 Grand Prix races that year.
In its debut operational season, Sochi Autodrom, recently also named ‘Motorsport Facility of the Year’, hosted a number of important international, national and regional events.
Late last year, Sochi Autodrom was awarded the trophy of Formula One’s best racing track for 2014. The 2014 Race Promoters' Trophy was awarded at the annual FIA Gala ceremony in Doha, Qatar, presented to Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak by Formula One chief executive Ecclestone.
The Race Promoters' Trophy is a rotating award, engraved with the names of other top F1 tracks dating from 1975. The trophy will remain in Sochi throughout 2015 until the next track is announced at the end of the next season.