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From Russia, men with a Grand Prix mission

Sochi to host GP to mark 100th anniversary of F1 in that country

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Sergey Ivanov and Sergey Ushakov are two very special visitors at this weekend’s Etihad Airways Formula One Grand Prix. The Managing Director and Executive Secretary of the Russian Automobile Federation has been entrusted with the responsibility of assisting in the preparation for hosting of a Grand Prix race in Russia in 2014.

The deal between the Russians and ATCUAE President Mohammad Bin Sulayem was signed and sealed earlier this year and a delegation of 34 marshals have been actively getting trained in Abu Dhabi in preparation for the 2014 Russian Grand Prix, to be held in Sochi.

Russia was briefly on the F1 scene nearly 100 years ago when it held a couple of races in 1913 and 1914 in St, Petersburg. Now to mark a 100th anniversary of the event, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has been convinced to have Russia make a return to the circuit on a yet to be constructed Olympic Park Circuit in 2014.

The race is set to become a reality following a contract between Mikhail Kapirulin, the head of Krasnodarsky Krai Development Technologies Sharing Centre and Ecclestone in the presence of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

“We want to invite more international races in Russia and for this we have a very well planned strategy,” Ushakov told Gulf News. “We have a plan to organise more races and we have a big potential too. For instance, one of our objectives is to bring the Silkway Rally (a competitor to the Dakar Rally) on the FIA calendar,” he added.

Much was achieved for Russia following the successful entry of its driver Vitaly Petrov in the F1 scene. But now, the authorities see the need to sustain this initial push and ensure there is adequate talent coming through. “To raise good drivers is one of the goals and for this we want to establish karting in every school. It is important to teach competition spirit to everyone at school from a young age. My vision is to see a kart club in every school. This is the only way we can get young drivers along with the support staff and mechanics,” Ushakov disclosed.