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Ecclestone to Sign Deal for Russian Grand Prix to Start in 2014

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone signed an agreement today for Russia to host a Grand Prix from 2014 to 2020 after talks with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Russian business leaders.

“I’m very happy not only to have Formula One in Russia, but now in Sochi I’m delighted to see all the facilities you’ve built for the Olympics,” Ecclestone told Putin in the Black Sea resort today. “I sincerely hope that Formula One is going to play a big part in what I can see happening in Sochi.”

Putin said the agreement is “very important, because we need to make use of everything that we’re creating” for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. “Construction of the racetrack will give our athletes a training facility and attract the attention of young people.”

Sponsors of the Sochi Grand Prix will include OAO Lukoil, Russia’s largest non-state oil producer, billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s Basic Element, OAO MegaFon, Russia’s third-largest cellular company, and Russian Technologies Corp., a state holding with assets from weapons to cars.

Ecclestone said in April that he aimed to bring the motor- racing series to Russia by 2012. Formula One currently has 19 races, with more countries vying for a spot on the series. Staging a Grand Prix puts race hosts “on the map,” Ecclestone said in a Bloomberg TV interview in March.

Russian Driver

Putin is trying to polish Russia’s image and boost its prestige abroad by attracting major sporting events such as the Olympics and Formula One. He has also spearheaded a bid to host the 2018 soccer World Cup.

Putin agreed to sponsor Formula One’s first Russian driver, Vitaly Petrov, who drives for the Renault team. In a March 1 meeting with Renault SA Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn, Putin said the French carmaker’s “symbolic step” in hiring a Russian driver would stimulate its cooperation with Russian companies.

Renault owns a 25 percent stake in OAO AvtoVAZ, Russia’s largest carmaker. Christian Esteve, then head of Renault’s Avtoframos factory in Moscow, said on Aug. 25 that Russia is a priority market for the carmaker. Renault, Nissan and AvtoVAZ plan to control 40 percent of the Russian market by 2015, he said.

Ecclestone told Kommersant last week that Russia will pay a yearly fee of about $40 million for the right to hold a Grand Prix race. Building a racetrack may cost Russia as much as $200 million, the Moscow-based newspaper said.

Construction of facilities for the 2014 Olympics should cost 185 billion rubles ($6.1 billion), according to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak’s office. Forty percent of construction for the games will be completed on schedule this year, RIA Novosti reported yesterday, citing Taimuraz Bolloyev, head of Olimpstroi, the state corporation in charge of preparations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Arkhipov in Sochi at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Willy Morris at wmorris@bloomberg.net

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