Formula 1

Why F1 must pay attention ahead of Sochi Olympics

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Construction continues ahead of October race (©GettyImages)
Construction continues ahead of October race (©GettyImages).

Looking at what awaits the sporting world in 2014, it is obvious all eyes will be on Sochi for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Indeed, with under a month to go until the greatest sporting event on snow begins, the world’s media has its focus already turned to Russia’s newest major destination.

Much has been made of the recently introduced anti-gay laws implemented in the country on a more global level but the issue of security has also been thrust into the spotlight following several large explosions at one of the last transport hubs en route to Sochi, the city of Volgograd.

The events over New Year, that killed 31 people, highlight just how vulnerable the south of Russia is to the extremist groups in nearby territories and in the build up to the Games, which officially start on February 7th, organisers have been at pains to stress athletes and world dignitaries will be safe in the resort.

For the Olympics a comprehensive plan is being put in place to ensure the safety of all visiting, however, the Winter Games are not the only global sporting event taking place in Sochi this year.

In October, Formula 1 will be visiting the city of the first time as the sport holds its inaugural race around the newly built Olympic Park.

For race organisers much of the attention on the arrival of more of the world’s media and the biggest motorsport show on the globe will start after the Games are over but work is well underway on the circuit and other facilities are also being constructed in preparation.

However the security threat may be one of the biggest hurdles in the time between the Sochi Olympics and the Sochi Grand Prix.

Just as the Olympics are a major target for terror groups, the attraction of an F1 race is also likely to be very high on their list of events.

Undoubtedly the pressure of ensuring the safety of large crowds and all the equipment that follows F1 and it’s support races will be just as high as it is for the Olympics, but it is likely that the money and resources put towards the task of securing a Grand Prix will not be as high as those put towards the Games.

F1 is no stranger to visiting countries with potential for trouble, and much has been made over recent trips to Bahrain, while races in Brazil and India also bring their own security challenges. But, ahead of the sport’s first trip to Russia, it should be expected representatives from the FIA and other F1-associated parties would be in Sochi for the Olympics to gain a feel for what can be expected come October.

For a sport that pulls in millions of viewers around the world and could prove vital both for the future of Sochi post-Olympics and F1 as it enters a new market with huge potential, ensuring a safe, secure Grand Prix will be vital.

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