FORMULA 1 IN RUSSIA
The first plans to hold a Grand Prix on the territory of Russia date back to the Soviet times. In 1982 Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of the Formula One Management, held negotiations with the USSR general secretary, Leonid Brezhnev, with regards to organising a Formula 1 Grand Prix in the USSR. Ultimately, these talks produced no end result and thus the Soviet Union never hosted a Formula 1 race. During Perestroyka, it was subsequently planned to create a Russian Formula 1 team by 1994 but that project did not come to life, either.
The modern history of Formula 1 in Russia started on October 9th, 2010 when negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone, the Head of Formula 1, resulted in an agreement for hosting Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. Following that, on October 14th, 2010 Formula One Management and Center Omega, supported by the Russian Government and Vladimir Putin, had signed a contract for organisation of FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX. The seven-year deal has a renewal option.
On October 28th, 2010 Center Omega signed a contract with Tilke GmbH & Co. KG to design and develop a circuit capable of hosting a FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX.
On July 17th, 2011, as part of a wider scheme to promote motorsport across Russia, the Promoter of the FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX organised the first ever "Formula Sochi" racing festival. Three Formula 1 racing teams – Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Lotus Renault GP and Marussia Virgin Racing – participated in the first event alongside representatives of other racing series, including the KAMAZ-Master team. The "Formula Sochi" festival has since became a highly popular annual event.
On September 21st, 2012 a captivating show involving vintage Formula 1 cars and other representatives of Russian motorsport disciplines was staged at the circuit to the delight of attending spectators.
On February 4th, 2013 Bernie Ecclestone visited Sochi Autodrom and was highly impressed with the construction progress of the circuit.
On April 22nd, 2013 the reigning F1 World Champion, Sebastian Vettel, and former F1 driver David Coulthard, tested a stretch of the FORMULA 1 RUSSIA GRAN PRIX circuit.
On September 27th, 2013 during the 12th International Investment Forum Sochi-2013, the FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX site in the Olympic Park hosted Formula Sochi 2013 exhibition races. Special guests at the event were Russian drivers Sergey Sirotkin and Vitaly Petrov. Sauber, Marussia, Russian Time, Yakhnich Motorsport, Formula-Z teams, Formula Russia series and participants of Eastern European Stunt Riding Championship all put on an incredible show for the attending motorsport fans.
On May 30th, 2014 the FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX promoter launched its new brand, Sochi Autodrom, and a new website www.sochiautodrom.ru where fans could go to purchase tickets for the first FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX.
On August 19th, 2014 the FIA (International Automobile Federation) delegation led by the FIA Formula 1 race director and safety delegate, Charlie Whiting, visited Sochi Autodrom to assess its readiness for the 2014 FORMULA 1 RUSSIA GRAND PRIX. The FIA inspection studied the quality of the circuit's surface and readiness of Sochi Autodrom's infrastructure to host the Grand Prix. After a thorough check, the commission decided that the Autodrom was ready to host racing competitions of international level.
From August 29th to September 7th, 2014 the Sochi Autodrom pavilion designed in the form of a racing helmet was opened at the 2014 Moscow International Automobile Salon where over five thousand guests visited the Sochi Autodrom exhibition devoted to the upcoming 2014 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX. The atmosphere of a Formula 1 race was recreated there with a sample racecar where visitors were invited to sit and feel what it was like to be a real Formula 1 driver.
On September 10th, 2014 Sochi Autodrom began to deliver tickets for the 2014 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX.
On September 13-14th, 2014 Sochi Autodrom held its first official competition – a round of the Russian Circuit Racing Series.
On September 15th, 2014 Sochi Autodrom's ticket centres began to sell and distribute tickets for the 2014 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX. Ticket centres were opened in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Krasnodar and Sochi.
On September 20th, 2014 the Sochi Autodrom venue was officially declared open during the 13th International Investment Forum Sochi-2014.
On October 10-12th, 2014 the first ever FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX took place at Sochi Autodrom. About 150,000 people visited Sochi Autodrom during the race weekend and it was widely considered to have been a thorough success. The 2014 Russian Grand Prix was named the Best Grand Prix of the Formula One World Championship at the annual FIA General Assembly.
On October 8-11, 2015, the second Russian Grand Prix gathered even more people in the stands - 62,000 - with about 150,000 spectators over four days of the race. The race was more exciting this time pleasing the audience with intense fighting until the very end.
REACTIONS OF PARTICIPANTS AND OFFICIALS
Lewis Hamilton, the winner of the 2014 and the 2015 Russian Grand Prix: "We've had a great time here, and if you have never been to Russia you should come here - it's a wonderful country!"
Sebastian Vettel, a four-time Formula 1 champion: "I'm happy! It has been a great day, an excellent race and an outstanding car. Everyone has done a great job, the race has been full of battles, and I think everyone has enjoyed our battle with Kimi Raikkonen."
Fernando Alonso, a double Formula 1 champion: "A great round! This is the second year when we came to Russia, and it's great. The organisers have done a great job in organising this Formula 1 weekend, as well as built a very good track. Sochi Autodrom is a chellenge for the drivers - competing in Sochi is interesting and rather difficult given that the engineers have to find the right settings for a track with fast and slow corners, and the drivers have to do their best close to the walls. This is thrilling."
Daniil Kvyat, an Infinity Red Bull Racing driver: "It is good to see such a support from everyone who came to support me. I've noticed that there have been supporters of other drivers as well, which shows that more and more people are watching Formula 1 in Russia and coming to the stands."
Dmitriy Kozak, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation: "The Russian Grand Prix preparation plan has been fulfilled. Mr. Ecclestone has praised us, there is a huge interest. I haven't seen the practice sessions, but I have tested the track. It's great and deserves being called the best one."
Berni Ecclestone, the head of the Formula One Management: "The race has been superb! The fight for the podium has kept everyone on the edge of their seats until the end. It has been impossible to predict the results. And I would like to once again highlight the atmosphere in Sochi - it's fantastic, and the race weekend has been wonderful. I always like coming to Russia."
The next Russian Grand Prix is to take place on April 29 – May 1, 2016 at Sochi Autodrom.