New Sochi circuit wins FIA seal of approval

Wed Aug 20, 2014 12:58pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Russia's new Sochi Formula One circuit has been cleared to host the country's first grand prix in October after a rave review from the sport's governing body.

International Automobile Federation (FIA) technical head Charlie Whiting, who conducts a detailed inspection of all new circuits, visited the Black Sea resort on Tuesday and said he was impressed by what he had seen.

"The circuit is in extremely good condition and – yes - it will be issued with a license," local organizers quoted the Briton as saying in a statement on Wednesday.

"Everything has been done according to the plans – the kerbs are very good, the verges, the guardrails, the walls – everything is in an extremely good condition.

"Everything has been done to the highest standards and I’m extremely pleased. I can say without hesitation that the circuit is ready 60 days in advance, which is very rare really."

Whiting indicated the inspection, before this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, was likely to be his last before the traveling Formula One circus arrives for the Oct. 12 race around the park used for this year's Winter Olympics.

The grand prix, a showcase event for Russian president Vladimir Putin, will be the 16th round of the championship but is already controversial following the crisis in Ukraine and downing of a Malaysian airliner last month.

Western nations have imposed sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea and what the United States and the European Union say is Moscow's backing for separatist rebels in east Ukraine.

Russia has responded by banning a range of agricultural products from the EU.   Continued...

The pit building, track and main tribune (L-R) at the Sochi International Street Circuit under construction for the Formula One 2014 Russian Grand Prix are seen in Sochi during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, February 13, 2014.    REUTERS/Eric Gaillard