On Saturday, June 26, it became known that from 2023 the Russian Grand Prix of the Formula 1 World Championship will be held near St. Petersburg on the Igora Drive track. About the emergence of “F1” in Russia and the new highway – in the material of RBC
Photo: Russian Grand Prix in Sochi in September 2020 (Photo by Bryn Lennon / Getty Images)
From 2023, the Russian Grand Prix of the Formula 1 World Championship will move from Sochi to St. Petersburg. Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1, said that the car races will now be held on the Igora Drive track in the Leningrad Region.
“This was the result of intensive work with our Russian partners and a detailed study of this delightful track. I am impressed with St. Petersburg and I am sure that the Russian Grand Prix at Igora Drive will be an amazing event, ”Domenicali told the Igora Drive press service.
After the announcement of the postponement of the races, the general director of Rosgonki, the promoter of the Russian stage of Formula 1, Alexei Titov said that a draft roadmap for organizing the stage near St. Petersburg was already being drawn up. “Today, together with the administration of St. Petersburg and the leadership of the Leningrad Region, we are planning the transport accessibility of the Igora Drive autodrome; Automobile Federation (FIA), – he told TASS. – A draft roadmap is being drawn up to meet the requirements of the FIA and Formula 1.
The head of VTB, the title sponsor of the Russian Grand Prix since 2017, Andrei Kostin, noted that the appearance in Russia of another autodrome, which has a license to host motorsport events of the highest level, will only add interest to motorsport in the country. “But in any case, it takes time to prepare for such an event, so the next two years the Formula 1 stage will continue to be held in Sochi,” the press service of ANO Rosgonka quotes Kostin.
Igora Drive. What is this track?
Igora Drive Autodrome is located 54 km from St. Petersburg. It was designed by the German architect Hermann Tilke, the creator of almost all new tracks in the Formula 1 calendar, including Sochi Autodrom. The construction, which lasted from 2017 to 2019, took just over 11 billion rubles.
The complex in the Leningrad Region with an area of 100 hectares consists of 10 professional tracks for rallycross, motocross, drift, enduro, karting, off-road vehicles, supermoto and pair races, as well as a counter-emergency training center. The length of the Formula 1 track is 4086m. Especially for the Grand Prix, a permanent stand for 5000 spectators was built there, and the total capacity of the circuit is 50 thousand people.
In November 2020, Igora Drive received an FIA Grade 1 license, which allows the track to host all international racing series, including Formula 1. At the same time, it became known that VTB Bank acquired 15% in Igora Drive LLC for 2.8 billion rubles. Based on the price of the acquired share, the value of the entire company can be estimated at 18.7 billion rubles.
According to SPARK, the owners of Igora Drive are co-owner of JSB Rossiya and SOGAZ insurance company, cousin of the President of Russia Mikhail Shelomov (50% of shares), another co-owner of JSB Rossiya Yuri Kovalchuk (25% through Arkonn) , as well as the owner of the construction holding “Rus” race car driver Vladimir Vasiliev (10% of shares).
Where was the Russian Grand Prix held earlier?
The first competition in cars in Russia was held in 1898 near St. Petersburg, and the Grand Prix in the Russian Empire was held twice – in 1913 and 1914. During the Soviet era, the country created its own analogue of Formula 1 – with the same engine capacity, but less powerful cars. In the 1980s, the first projects for the Formula 1 Grand Prix appeared in the USSR – in 1983 the Moscow stage was included in the preliminary calendar of the World Championship. The route was planned to be organized on the Sparrow Hills in Moscow, but the race did not take place. The Formula 1 pilots came to the Russian Grand Prix more than 30 years later.
On October 12, 2014, the first Formula 1 race in Russia took place in the village of Sirius on the Sochi Autodrom track in the Olympic Park. Englishman Lewis Hamilton became the winner. Subsequently, he won three more races in Sochi and tops the list of winners on this track.
One of the possible reasons for moving the Russian Grand Prix from Sochi to St. Petersburg is the desire to attract new tourist flows.
The head of the Committee for the Development of Tourism of St. Petersburg in an interview with “Delovoy Petersburg” expressed hope for an increase in the number of tourists due to races. “As a rule, fans come, of course, to cheer,” says the head of the committee. “But, firstly, they attend other events, and secondly, more and more often they bring their families, who at this time are classic tourists”
Also, according to Korneev, “Formula-1” will make good advertising for the city.
“Now in the global market there is such aggressive competition for recovery from the pandemic that any event adds to our piggy bank both the reputation and image effect is very serious,” added the head of the committee.
A similar opinion was expressed to RBC by the master of sports of international class, the famous pilot Daniil Move.
“On the one hand, this [переезд] Sad news – the Sochi races have been developing all this for several years. But the presence of the track and the holding of Formula 1 in St. Petersburg sounds extremely logical. I have met many racers and people from other countries who are delighted with visiting St. Petersburg. Many people dream of going there. I think, thanks to Formula, the number of those who wish will only increase. This is a great destination for tourism, even profitability. And of course this will contribute to the development of sports. The track itself is a little closer to the main part of Russia, which means it will be easier to get there. Plus, at a stationary circuit it will be possible for someone to drive, it will be easier for other cool racers to switch to Formula-1, ”Move is sure.
Where in Russia are there licensed routes besides Sochi and St. Petersburg?
In Russia there is another track of the highest category FIA Grade 1 – Moscow Raceway, which opened in 2012. Hermann Tilke was also the architect of the track, the length of which in the maximum configuration is 4070 meters. The track is located in the Volokolamsk district of the Moscow region, at the 95th kilometer of the Novorizhskoe highway. Over the decade, Moscow Raceway has hosted many international racing series – World Superbike, World Series by Renault, DTM, FIA GT and WTCC. Moscow Raceway is also the base circuit for driving schools BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche, and Ferrari and Lamborghini annually hold their client track days here.