Russian Grand Prix promoters have moved to dispel rumours suggesting that the event is in danger of collapse following the withdrawal of state funding.
The event, which has featured on the past two F1 schedules following the conversion of the former Winter Olympic park in Sochi, was reportedly told that it would receive be no financial support from the regional Krasnodar Territory government for 2016 – with new deputy governor Igor Galas telling the RBC
business news agency that it ''will not bear the costs for the next F1 round' - prompting speculation that its place on a 21-date calendar could be in jeopardy. However, promoter Sergei Vorobyov moved swiftly to counter the rumours and confirm that plans for next season – including the imminent sale of tickets – were well underway.
"We have no problems," Vorobyov told Russian news agency TASS
, "There are, indeed, various opinions and decisions, and constant work is ongoing to optimise the project's management and ownership structure, but this has no direct relation to spectators of the grand prix in Sochi. The F1 Sochi stage is set for many years to come - we know this for sure."
Tickets for the third Russian Grand Prix went on sale on Friday, coincidentally as Eastern European 'rival' Azerbaijan issued the first tickets for its maiden appearance on the F1 programme. Sochi will move to a May date next season, having featured towards the end of previous schedules, while the trip to Baku has already raised a few eyebrows, not just by its proximity to the Canadian Grand Prix, but by clashing directly with the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Russia is not the only host country to have run into rumours of financial problems, with the USGP at Austin's Circuit of the Americas in doubt for next season following a cut in state funding. The event, one of the most popular stops on the current calendar, was the only one to appear on this week's finalised 2016 schedule with an asterisk denoting that it was 'subject to contract'.