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Government pledges funds to finish Sochi circuit

3 April 2013

Russia's finance ministry has said that it will provide the funds necessary for the completion of the planned race circuit around the Olympic facilities at Sochi, amid concerns that the venue may not be ready in time to make its debut in 2014.

According to izvestia.ru, the money – reckoned to be around 8.7bn roubles - will be provided to the Krasnodar territory on the personal guarantee of local governor Alexander Tkachev, and will be used for the construction of both the circuit and other infrastructure essentials in order to bring the site up to F1 standards.

Despite F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone claiming to have been 'super impressed' in February with what the Russians had achieved and were planning in relation to finishing the project, just a month later, reports were emerging that the group behind the F1 programme had been liquidated after falling into financial troubles.

With another company, Omega, now having taken over the project, and Sochi mayor Anatoly Pakhamov insisting that it cannot be allowed to fail 'with the prestige of Russia at stake', deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak has stepped in to instruct the loan of funds necessary for its completion.

The federal budget was originally contracted for 90 per cent of the build cost, but that amount was subsequently fixed at 5.5bn roubles. However, with Sochi's Olympic dreams already running over initial estimates, those figures look set to soar. The Hermann Tilke-designed circuit utilises roads being built to service the various sporting facilities in place for next year's Winter Olympics, but will require upgrading in order to stage a round of the world championship.

Even though the funds for completion of the project have now been secured, however, race organisers face another headache as timescales for the work currently exceed the deadlines required for inclusion on next year's F1 schedule.

The construction schedule should have the facility ready by November 2014 but, even with the race likely set to be slotted in towards the end of the season, that would mean that the necessary pre-event inspection, due 90 days before the grand prix, and necessary national and/or international dress rehearsals required to get everything working as it should, are unlikely to be met. Official applications for inclusion on the 2014 calendar need to be lodged with the Russian national motorsport federation no later than August this year, before being passed on to the FIA.


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