Although nothing is confirmed yet, it seems that Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is preparing to move the Australian leg of the Formula 1 Grand Prix to Russia, rumoured to be held in St Petersburg from 2010 (when Melbourne’s contract runs out).
A British newspaper has reported that Ecclestone will fly to Russia next weekend to attend a meeting with the governor of St Petersburg to hammer out plans of a new dedicated purpose-built circuit on the outskirts of the city.
“Nothing is done yet,” Ecclestone said on Friday, “but this could be an interesting development for the sport. We’d like to get it in the calendar as soon as we can but that depends on them. It’s down to how long it takes them to get the circuit ready.
Avid Formula 1 fans would know that this has been tried before, when Ecclestone attempted to organize a race in Moscow which didn’t eventuate.
The move comes at no surprise after the Victorian government declared Melbourne would not hold a night race despite repeated threats from Ecclestone. Russia is also a much bigger fish, not only is it a newer market with more money, but tobacco advertising (Formula 1’s bread and butter) is not banned.
There has been no official word from Australian GP organizers regarding Ecclestone’s recent moves, but as it stands now, there is a reasonable possibility that the St Petersburg GP would replace Melbourne.
Organizers of the Malaysian GP have also signed a renewal-contract (form 2015 onwards) acknowledging their commitment to host the race at night.
The 2008 Formula 1 season will kick start in Melbourne (13 – 16 Mar) and will for the first time include a night race in Singapore towards the end of September.