Russian GP venue change unanimously approved

Jon Wilde
Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo on the Sochi circuit, home of the Russian Grand Prix

Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo on the Sochi circuit, home of the Russian Grand Prix

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Chernyshenko, has confirmed unanimous approval for the country’s grand prix to change venues in 2023.

Formula 1 recently announced the Russian Grand Prix would switch from Sochi, where it has been held since 2014, to Igora Drive just outside St Petersburg.

There was also a suggestion from the race promoters that the grand prix could alternate between the two venues for the last three years of its contract, which lasts until 2025.

For the time being though, Chernyshenko has merely cleared the way for Igora Drive to become the host circuit having gained its official licence from the FIA last November to stage Formula 1 races.

“The initiative of holding the [2023 FIA F1 race] in St Petersburg has been approved by all parties,” Chernyshenko – who oversees sports, culture and tourism matters in the Russian government and also chairs the local committee on the F1 GP – told Russian news agency TASS.

“F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said during his recent visit to Russia that it [Igora Drive] was a perfect location for holding the race, and our task now is to make sure the new grand prix assumes a significant place in the calendar of F1 racing and becomes another venue of the tourism attraction which St. Petersburg is already famous for.”

Russian Grand Prix

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Chernyshenko also revealed there are plans in place for Sochi, the Black Sea resort which hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 2014, but without specifying what they were.

“Regarding Sochi, the racing track there and the whole Olympic Park will get a new boost for the development as part of the federal territory,” he stated. “It is important to provide an effective use of the post-Olympic heritage.”

Igora Drive became the third FIA-licensed circuit for F1 races in Russia. The other is Moscow Raceway, which was approved in October 2014.

Like Sochi, Igora Drive was designed by Hermann Tilke, with construction of the 4.084-kilometre circuit having begun in 2016 and been completed the following year at a multi-motorsports complex that also features rally cross, motocross, karting and off-roading facilities.

Mercedes have dominated the Russian Grand Prix, having won all seven stagings of the race in Sochi so far – Lewis Hamilton four times, Valtteri Bottas twice and Nico Rosberg once.

This year’s event is scheduled in what has become its customary early autumn slot on the calendar, September 24-26.

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