Russian Grand Prix chiefs are confident that their inaugural Formula 1 race in Sochi in 2014 is well on course to run on schedule, despite complications caused by the city hosting the Winter Olympics earlier that year.
Sochi is gearing up for a major sporting double after it signed a seven-year deal to host the Russian Grand Prix earlier this year. And although the logistics of holding the Olympics and a grand prix are complicated, the city's mayor Anatoly Pakhomov insists that preparations are well on course for the F1 event.
"There is every intention to ensure that the F1 race will go ahead as planned in 2014," Pakhomov told Reuters. "The specific requirements of managing the two events together is being studied carefully at present as the committee working to oversee the successful implementation of the Olympics becomes fully integrated with the committee being set up to orchestrate the F1 race which is still in its formative stage. However, I don't foresee any slippage of the race into 2015 being necessary."
Pakhomov said he expected the F1 track to be mostly finished in 2013, with the finishing touches put in place once the Olympics have been completed.
"Of course, there are some more specific features that will need to be added upon the completion of the Olympic Games such as run-off areas, catch fencing, etc," he said. "But we foresee the base requirements of the track being completed approximately one year prior to the first race being held."
Andrey Kraynik, a senior executive of Olympic and Grand Prix sponsor MegaFon, said that the track would become a hit with fans and drivers.
"When we first invited (F1 track designer Hermann) Tilke down to see Sochi in 2009 we stressed the importance of ensuring the track design got the balance right," he told Reuters. "The track will be a classic track with an emphasis on good overtaking opportunities, no gimmicks. It will have a mix of high-speed corners, long straights and hairpins.
"On the one hand, you will have the mountains as a backdrop and a city street-track feel at the same time. It will come to be loved by the fans like Montreal, and be challenging for the drivers like Monaco."