Motor racing-St Petersburg to host Russian Grand Prix from 2023

·2-min read

(Reuters) -The Russian Grand Prix will move from Sochi's Olympic Park to a new purpose-built circuit outside St Petersburg from 2023, Formula One announced on Saturday.

The race, first held in 2014 after the Black Sea resort hosted the Winter Olympics, will switch to the Igora Drive circuit located 54km from the Baltic Sea port city of St Petersburg.

"We are looking forward to racing in a hugely exciting location that includes 10 professional tracks for racing and testing over approximately 100 hectares," Formula One said in a statement.

Igora Drive is some 150km from the Finnish border, and should be more accessible than Sochi for Russian and international fans alike. Finland has produced three F1 champions but never hosted a championship race.

The new circuit was designed by German architect Hermann Tilke and received a Grade One licence in 2020.

The circuit would have hosted a round of the German Touring Car championship (DTM), as well as the all-female W Series, last year but those races were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I am impressed by St Petersburg and believe that the Russian Grand Prix at Igora Drive will be an incredible event," said Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali.

This year's race in Sochi, which had a contract until 2025, is scheduled for Sept. 26.

Champions Mercedes have won all seven Russian Grands Prix to date, with seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton triumphant four times.

St Petersburg is the birthplace of Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has regularly attended the race in Sochi to hand out the winner's trophy.

Formula One, whose commercial rights are owned by U.S.-based Liberty Media, has been open about wanting to host more races in or near 'destination cities'.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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