Formula One's interest in expanding into Russia is real, with the future Olympic site at Sochi high on the list of candidate venues, according to Bernie Ecclestone.
The sport's commercial supremo has made no secret of taking the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes to the former Soviet Union, but previous failures to make it happen continue to cast doubt on future bids. However, the latest drive, particularly with Renault's Vitaly Petrov giving Russia a viable involvement in the top flight, appears closer to fruition as Ecclestone confirmed that he was exploring several possibilities for 2012.
Having confirmed that existing races may not have the contracts renewed - with Spain's 'double-header' in Barcelona and Valencia thought to be under particular threat - Ecclestone revealed that he was pressing ahead with the bid to take F1 to Russia, where it could put Sochi on the map two years before
it hosts the Winter Olympics.
"We've got two or three places in Russia which we're dealing with at the moment," Ecclestone told reporters while exploring the new venue due to host this year's Korean GP, "There is a big push for us to do something with Sochi."
The Formula One Management head also confirmed that, contrary to recent rumours, Korea was still on course to host the F1 circus later this year. The Yeongnam facility was the subject of speculation that construction work would not be completed on time for its October debut, but Ecclestone moved quickly to deny the claims, which included a quote attributed to designer Hermann Tilke.
"I've spoken to Tilke and he denies saying it," Ecclestone claimed, "I'm absolutely sure [that Korea will be ready], no doubt at all."