Pressure on existing races on the F1 calendar looks set to ramp up ahead of the 2014 season, following reports that Bernie Ecclestone has agreed terms to introduce a Russian Grand Prix to the schedule.
Speculation that Russia was a major target for Ecclestone has been rife for several years, but previous projects have foundered on a mix of red tape and finance. However, the latest proposed venue, at the forthcoming Winter Olympic host city of Sochi, appears to be close to fruition, with the local Kommersant
newspaper reporting that a contract has been offered and is currently awaiting signatures.
"The document has still not been signed but, when the appropriate person from Russia signs it, I will sign it the next day," Ecclestone confirmed.
The same report suggests that the only delay to the deal being clinched could be caused by the fee demanded by Ecclestone, which is estimated to be in the same vicinity as those being charged to recent additions Singapore and Abu Dhabi, which both pay $40m for the right to a place on the F1 schedule.
Details of the venue remain sketchy, with no confirmation whether the race would run on a street circuit around Sochi itself, or be staged on a track that would be purpose built nearby.
Having already agreed a 20-race schedule for next season, and tacitly accepted that that is about as far as he can stretch the calendar, Ecclestone has suggested that a cull of venues will have to take place to accommodate new events. India is among the 20 stops on next year's campaign trail, but the USA is tipped to return with a new venue in Texas in 2012 and Russia is just one of several prospective venues being considered for the future.
Following the brief dalliance of the Midland Group, which acquired the former Jordan team before handing it over to Spyker, Russia has this season made its F1 breakthrough with the inclusion of Vitaly Petrov in Renault's line-up and, despite his seat being in question for 2011, the rookie has begun to attract sponsorship from a previously untapped marker.