Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Sochi, 2018

Russian Grand Prix expected to leave Sochi after 2020

2020 F1 season

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Sochi Autodrom is expected to hold the Russian Grand Prix for the final time next year, RaceFans has learned.

The venue in the Black Sea resort has held the Russian Grand Prix since it was added to the calendar in 2014. Two years ago the race promoted signed a new deal, extending its contract to 2025.

However development plans in the area have prompted moves to relocate Russia’s round of the world championship.

Sochi’s circuit is formed using roads which were part of the site which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics. But the track hosts few major races aside from its annual grand prix.

Source have indicated plans are being made to develop areas of the site for other purposes. The construction of a new concert hall for 2021 will force changes to the track’s configuration, shortening it to just over two kilometres. This would make it too short for Formula 1, though the venue’s rumoured Formula E race would still be able to go ahead.

Race promoter Rosgonki stated it holds a contract for the Russian Grand Prix to continue until 2025 and gave no further comment.

A new circuit under construction outside St Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest circuit, is considered a likely new home for the race.

Formula 1 is understood to be aware of the potential change and is content for it to go ahead providing the race moves to a venue they view as another destination city.

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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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43 comments on “Russian Grand Prix expected to leave Sochi after 2020”

  1. Always a sign of great strength when a series owner can’t even decide where the contracted races are held.

    Liberty must have retained true contractual wizards.

    1. Was this contract signed while Liberty had control, or was that still Bernie @proesterchen?

      1. It happened in late Feb 2017, when Liberty owned the business:

        https://www.racefans.net/2017/03/01/f1-fanatic-round-up-0103-3/

        Bernie reportedly helped facilitate the deal, though this sounds more like he was doing the negotiating on the other side from Liberty:

        https://www.racefans.net/2019/01/23/ecclestone-made-new-russian-gp-deal-more-efficient/

      2. bosyber – The original may have been Bernie but the renewal, two years ago, was not.

    2. Er, the article says the exact opposite. The circuit change needs F1 to approve it. The article also noted that Liberty Media would be receptive to a change to, well, pretty much anywhere that’s not Sochi.

  2. Great news! Any piece of asphalt is better than this terrible circuit. (Apart from Paul Ricard of course)
    The sooner we get rid of it, the better!

    1. You say that now.

      And then you end up racing somewhere halfway between St Petersburg and the Finnish border wondering why you keep letting your valued partners call their race tracks after cities 1 1/2 hours away or more. (“Moscow” Raceway, anyone?)

      It’s a destination alright, it’s just the city part that needs more work than in South Korea a decade ago. :P

    2. Ricard is a better circuit than at least half of the circuits on the calendar- Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Catalunya, and Shanghai. It’s also the 4th fastest track on the calendar.

      1. *Ricard is a better circuit than at least 5 other circuits on the calendar- Sochi, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Catalunya, and Shanghai. It’s also the 4th fastest track on the calendar.

  3. Lets be honest, no one will miss racing at Sochi. The only decent/exciting part is turn 3, around the stadium. The rest is character-less, layout wise and the surroundings… Does anyone know that the Formula E layout would look like?

    1. Formula E will probably race around the F1 paddock. That’s about the size of circuit they like.

    2. Bottas will miss it!

    3. Only bottas will miss it.

    4. I don’t think turn 3 is around a stadium.

  4. First – good riddance!

    Second – if it is not scrapped completely (which I think should be done), then a circuit definitely should be closer to Capital, with proper International Airports nearby.

    1. Moscow has lot’s of problems with logistic (street race is impossible), and Moscow raceway has quite a boring layout, and St. Petersberg has more landmarks and has two international airports nearby

  5. “A new circuit under construction outside St Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest circuit, is considered a likely new home for the race.”

    “new circuit” is an Igora-Drive Raceway – the circuit was designed to get FIA grade 2, but due to lack of funds run-off areas depth was reduced, so even getting Grade 3 is now a big question. Also, there’s a lack of area on the building site (here’s an areal render: https://nsp.ru/files/ckeditor/c4/8d/b0/25994.jpg), so it’s hard to imagine, that track can ever get Grade 1. But a race on St. Petersburg streets is a very interesting option.

  6. Let’s hope this will be the end of the Russian GP.

  7. The first bit of 2021 news that excites me :)

    Although, I must say that @proesterchen ‘s en route to Finland comment cracked me up.

  8. Good. they can’t do any worse than this rubbish circuit

  9. The circuit in question that is being built near St Petersburg is the Igora Drive. It looks… alright, very flowing. Although it’s yet another Tilke, he isn’t trying to cram everything into a circuit like he usually does.

    https://www.racingcircuits.info/europe/russia/igora-drive.html#.XYy8cCMrIxe

    1. But what the heck is going on with that pit exit? Looks like you’d lose masses of time so encourages a 1-stop… Ok for overtaking though if they can get close out of the last corner

      1. The pit exit should be in T4, @imhotep222.
        Yes, I’m serious. This way the time lost during a pitstop would be minimal, which encourages more pitstops and full-throttle racing throughout the race as you do not have to worry about saving your tyres.

        1. I agree with that. Turn 4 would be better.

          1. I can’t help but feel it’d be pretty close to everyone just driving through the pit lane lap after lap, it increase pitstops from the 1 per race to 68.

        2. YES this! Pitstops should gain you time, then all kinds of strategies can be done.

    2. @brickles Quite nice layout this track has. And those who cry about it being an hour away from St Petersburg like @proesterchen, please do remind me what’s the closest big city to Spa? Suzuka? Road America? Nurburgring? How far away are they located from it? And these are some of the finest circuits on the planet! When I visited Road America for example I had no problem driving there for two hours each way 3 times during the weekend from where I was located. Because it was worth it. I wouldn’t drive even 20 minutes for Sochi level rubbish

      1. @montreal95 I completely agree. Monza and Hungaroring? Neither were exactly city centre. And Silverstone might be NEAR things but cars can’t move on race weekend, so it’s academic.

        It’s not relevant to me. I thought we all camped at the circuit anyway.

      2. @montreal95

        And those who cry about it being an hour away from St Petersburg like @proesterchen, please do remind me what’s the closest big city to Spa? Suzuka? Road America? Nurburgring?

        May I direct your attention to the final paragraph of this article?

        “providing the race moves to a venue they view as another destination city”

        The woods 90 minutes (best case) north of St Peterburg are definitely a destination. It’s just the city part that seems to be absent.

  10. Proshchay, Sochi. You’re a rubbish circuit anyway.

  11. What?!? I can’t believe that F1 would let such an iconic track just disappear from the schedule! When I think back to that time that Mercedes won, and that other time Mercedes won, and those two other times Mercedes won and those 10-12 hours of my life I spent watching cars circulate around such a smooth and level circuit it just warms my heart. Who needs dramatic elevation change like Spa or COTA? And do corner complexes like Maggots/Beckets really make a race more interesting? And, honestly do we really want dramatic passing like Danny Ric on Perez to set up his maiden win at Canada…oh who am I kidding, this track was crap from day one. It is absolutely lifeless and soulless. About the only interesting thing I ever saw here was watching Kvyat play bumper cars with Vettel. Could we possibly speed up the time line and ditch it after this weekend?

    1. One positive of Sochi is that I get the impression these roads being closed for an F1 is not inconveniencing anyone for about 500 miles.

  12. Bahrain, France & Russia shouldn’t be on the calendar. I have a feeling that the Vietnam & Dutch tracks will be the same.
    Whilst they’re at it, they should swap Brazil with Abu Dhabi again.

  13. I like this and furthermore would like to see more countries move the race around. In the US, F1 should alternate between COTA and a couple of street races like Vegas. Germany could do the same with Hockenheim and a street race in Berlin or Tempelhof. Spain could go between Catalunya and Jerez. Etc.

    1. You talk easy mate – just move the circuits like they are like scalectrix sets. There is only ONE street circuit in F1 that is Monaco. The rest are rubbish and unbecoming of F1. TIME to move back to more proper race tracks, built by true petrol head junkies with high octane flowing through them. Such a pity iconic F1 teams are allowing this sport to turn into a roadshow for socalled fans who have no glue what the game is all about

      1. Unto each their own, but this is big business more than a sport. Liberty has said they want to go to the cities. It is going to happen. I prefer elevation changes over flat circuits any day. There are plenty of cities that have elevation changes that can become interesting tracks.

  14. (Well again, but not so signifigant) bad news for Bottas as Sochi seems to suit his driving style quite well. But who knows what will happen if the race is moved.

  15. Just leave Russia and other such dictatorships.

  16. @keithcollantine

    St Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest circuit

    second largest city, surely?

    1. Like missing a dentist appointment.

  17. Why leave Sochi after 2020? Why not now?

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