Yesterday the FBI arrested FIFA senior officials and the Swiss authorities launched an investigation into corruption allegations surrounding the procurement of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Today, the Russian PR machine moves into action.
Sochi race promoter, Sergei Worobiew believes the 2015 Russian GP will be another success. “The numbers are very good and we are confident that we will be sold out.”
However, advance ticket sales are down this year for the October event, but each new F1 venue sees incremental interest during their inaugural race weekend.
Sochi has a seating capacity, including the Paddock Club, of 55,000 and Warobiew reveals, “We will keep the same number of seats. Only when the demand should rise in the medium term, we will consider an increase”.
The Russian GP will cost whoever is writing the cheque for 2015, double the amount of roubles originally envisaged when the contract was signed. The Russian currency has collapsed to below half its original value since punitive international sanctions have been enforced against the Putin regime.
The International community was horrified by Russia’s annexing of Crimea, a territory belonging to another sovereign power. This kind of ‘invasion’ and annexation of territories has been absent amongst the global community for almost the entire period since WWII.
Russian citizens are paying the price, with supermarket shelves empty and their international travel ambitions checked to a certain degree.
The only tickets available for the 2014 Russian GP were for the entire weekend. This year there are 2 day tickets available and tickets for just the pit lane walk on Thursday too.
Sochi of course won the prestigious 2014 Race Promoter’s Trophy for the best track in Formula One. This announcement was made by FOM at the annual FIA Gala ceremony which took place in Qatar.
The experience for the fans was apparently not quite so salubrious, many reporting accommodation that was sparse in comfort and restaurants with just basic ingredients and long waits to be fed.
The Sochi race promoter is hardly putting his neck on the block claiming there will be a full house for the return of Formula One.
21st century Russia is not immune from tactics of enticement and conscription. So by hook or by crook – the grandstands in Sochi will be full.