Start, Sochi Autodrom, 2018

Ecclestone made new Russian GP deal more “efficient”

2019 F1 season

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The Russian Grand Prix promoter credits Bernie Ecclestone for helping to extend the race’s contract to 2025.

The event, which has taken place at the Sochi Autodrom since 2014, already has a longer contract than the majority of rounds on the 2019 F1 calendar.

Russia’s last contract extension was announced in March 2017, a few weeks after Ecclestone was replaced as CEO of F1 by Chase Carey of Liberty Media. But race promoter Sergey Vorobyov stressed Ecclestone’s input had been vital.

“It’s been an interesting situation,” he told RaceFans in an exclusive interview. “We started talking about the extension of the contract with Bernie and he did help us to find the proper way to [get] Russian sponsors to the event.

“The Russian Grand Prix is sponsored by VTB and Lukoil, the official event sponsors, and he did propose the way how to make it so that it’s beneficial for everyone – the sponsor and for the promoter. I’m not in a position to elaborate deeper but he was the one who helped to make the deal much more efficient.

“But this deal was finally announced only when Liberty was already in charge so this was a great teamwork, I can say. In the end the benefit which VTB and Lukoil bring to the sport in terms of their marketing involvement, their activations, is great and in the end it’s like a win-win-win solution for everyone.”

The current deal is “solid until 2025” said Vorobyov, who described their relationship with new owners Liberty Media as constructive. “We are fine with the way how Liberty treats us and replies to our questions. We always find a way to way resolve the issues.

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“There is always some minor issues. There is a race promotion contract and also there is a lot of additional arrangements which you have to make; media rights. Paddock Club and other things. To be honest I’m quite delighted by the way Liberty deals with things.”

Several race promoters have indicated they are seeking reductions in their race fees from Liberty. However Vorobyov said Sochi will not enter joint negotiations with rival events.

“There is two things which have been very good in Bernie’s era I would say. And they are confidentiality and direct dealings with him. This is the thing we’re going to keep doing.

“If we will be feeling that our fee is not fair then we’ll definitely talk to Liberty about it but it will be a one-on-one negotiation and we’ll do our best on our side to keep it confidential.

“We’ve had approaches from other circuits in order to participate in some kind of negotiations to talk about various things but it’s not an approach we’re going to take. We like the way how Liberty understands our specific situation. And we’re sure if this question will arise it will be sorted out with Liberty in a very professional, discreet and one-on-one way.”

In today’s RacingLines column: Read about Ecclestone’s aborted 1981 plan for a rival series to Formula 1 – and its similarities to today’s championship.

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2018 F1 season

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 14 comments on “Ecclestone made new Russian GP deal more “efficient””

    1. Knowing Bernie, I have to ask: “Efficient at?”

      1. @phylyp you give Bernie 1M $ and you get 5M $ fee deduction, that’s efficient for the Russians.

    2. Not sure I am keen to have this track on the calendar until 2025 as it doesn’t seem to produce too many exciting races. Seems the track surface is a contributing factor and the Russians didn’t want to use the surface suggested by the designer (I assume Tilke again) as to make it look better for the Olympics rather than a surface that would make the tyre degrade.

      Sochi would be a track I would drop if they go to the likes of Vietnam etc as I see them as peripheral/experimental like Korea and Turkey, rather than tracks like Spa, Silverstone & Suzuka that are your staple tracks.

      1. Spa, Monza, Suzuka are great circuits. Silverstone is as boring as Sochi. But Sochi is easily fixable by narrowing the track to 10-11 meters.

    3. And as it’s Russia, we can be confident that everything is completely above board.

      1. As long as they Putin the cash, I’m sure it’s above board.

        1. grat – nice one… ;-)

    4. Yay, a dull circuit forever. Well, that at least means there’s one race I can skip every year without regret.

      1. Silverstone is not anyhow better

        1. But historical! Or something.

    5. I always thought Sochi was a dull race to watch. I’ve recently tried in an F1 sim game and I can confirm that it’s also an awful track to race (more, play) on.

    6. I guess that Putin has Ecclestone’s p** tape.

    7. …and he did propose the way how to make it so that it’s beneficial for everyone – the sponsor and for the promoter.”

      But not the fans, sadly.

    Comments are closed.