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British Grand Prix: F1 aims for South Africa and Russia

Bernie Ecclestone
Ecclestone wants to take F1 to Russia and South Africa

South Africa and Russia could soon be among the countries staging Formula 1 grands prix, according to the sport's commercial kingpin Bernie Ecclestone.

The 79-year-old Ecclestone told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek's programme he hopes a circuit will be completed in Cape Town 'in about three years' time'.

"The only question mark is Russia, where we should be and we are not," said Ecclestone.

He also branded the Olympics as "second class" in comparison to the World Cup.

Pursuing a relentless expansion programme in recent years, Ecclestone has concentrated primarily on countries where tobacco advertising is not banned.

Singapore, China, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi have been added to the calendar of races, while India is scheduled to stage its first grand prix in 2011, with the United States expected to return to the calendar in 2012.

However, Ecclestone has long been keen to take to the sport to Russia, which is bidding to stage the 2018 World Cup, with the Russian city of Sochi also hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Two years ago Ecclestone met the governor of St Petersburg to discuss the possible building of a new circuit on the outskirts of the city after a previous initiative aimed at staging a race in Moscow came to nothing.

And asked whether the World Cup had persuaded him that F1 should be looking to have a presence in Africa, Ecclestone said: "You're absolutely right, it is another continent where we should be.

"It would be nice to have covered the world, but Russia is more important right now. Africa is limited for all the people who are involved in F1 for business, whereas Russia is wide open.

"But we will see. We have been talking to the people in South Africa for quite a long time off and on. The chances are OK. It's a case of getting the right venue always.

"We've been talking to the people in Cape Town. There are one or two places that could happen and are coming on quite strong.

"We're talking about building a circuit. It's probably about three years away. That's what I would like to see. I would hope so. I've been hoping that for five years.

"Hopefully what the World Cup has done for Africa, people will think it will be good for F1 to be there."

If Russia and South Africa are of interest to Ecclestone, the F1 supremo remains distinctly unimpressed by the Olympic Games.

"The Olympics has become a little bit second-class now compared to the World Cup. The interest in the World Cup compared to the Olympics is extraordinary. Commercially I would much prefer to be involved in the World Cup than the Olympics."



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see also
Texas ideal for F1 - Ecclestone
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India races towards Formula 1 future
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Ecclestone wants shortcuts in F1
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Suzuka & Valencia extend F1 deals
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Ecclestone sends Donington threat
26 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
New teams for 2010 - Ecclestone
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