Ecclestone heads to Russia


Just days after Australian Grand Prix Corporation boss Ron Walker, a close friend of Bernie Ecclestone, revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants a race in his own home town of St Petersburg and is prepared to pay a "phenomenal sum" for the privilege, the F1 supremo - as if on cue - is reported to be heading to the city to begin talks with the Mayor

"Nothing is done yet," Ecclestone told British tabloid the Daily Mirror, "but this could be an interesting development for the sport.

"We'd like to get it in the calendar as soon as we can," he added, a masterpiece of understatement, "but that depends on them. It's down to how long it takes them to get the circuit ready."

Fact is, providing the money is right, F1 can play in a city near you, any time, any where. Indeed, if you're willing to bend over that little bit further and run the race at night, everyone's happy, as F1 fans in Europe - the sport's heartland - can watch the event at a (broadcasting stats) friendly time.

At present, with Singapore scheduled to host the first ever night race later this year, Bahrain and Malaysia are also said to be considering similar plans, with Sepang International Circuit chairman Dato Mokhzani Mahathir admitting that his only concern is cost.

However, having witnessed the pressure being put on Melbourne and Silverstone, he was quick to claim that the possible switch to a night race was not under pressure from Ecclestone. As if.

"Our current contract is up to 2010," he told the Bangkok Post, "and then last year when we were negotiating for an extension a clause was put into the contract (to 2015) saying that we need to be ready to host the race at night.

"Definitely we hope to have a night race by next year," he added. "We actually started talking about lighting up the track with Bernie Ecclestone as far back as September 2006 for night racing by installing a lighting system that would give almost daylight quality light. Since then he has spoken to Singapore and Melbourne about it because he would like to see the broadcast of F1 in Europe at a more decent hour. Having a race in Asia at night makes sense."

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Published: 11/02/2008
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