Ecclestone: No concerns about taking F1 to Russia in six weeks’ time

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Bernie Ecclestone has once again affirmed his support for the Russian Grand Prix, which is set to take place in six weeks’ time amid concerns about tensions in the region.

Political relations with Russia have been tenuous following the crisis in the Crimea and the recent MH17 disaster, casting doubt on the viability of the planned grand prix in Sochi.

The eleven teams have stood by the FIA and the commercial rights holder, saying that if the race goes ahead they will be happy to take part.

Ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, F1 supremo Ecclestone confirmed to Reuters that he had zero concerns about the race going to plan.

“We have a contract,” he said. “Our friends there, they are happy with the contract so we’ll be there.

“If people have got arguments with Russia maybe they have [issues]. I don’t know. We haven’t got any.”

FIA race director Charlie Whiting visited the circuit earlier this week, and was full of praise for the facility that has been built around the complex that hosted the Winter Olympics earlier this year.

Although concerns about the race in Russia will linger until the race weekend itself, Formula 1 does look set to venture to the nation for the first time in 100 years.

A common misconception is that this will be the first Russian Grand Prix. It will indeed be the first that is part of the official Formula 1 world championship, but two grand prix events were held in 1913 and 1914 around the streets of St. Petersburg before the outbreak of the First World War. Therefore, the 2014 will actually be the third Russian Grand Prix.

F1 has said that it is not looking to make any kind of political statement by going to Russia, but is instead focusing on taking the sport to a new and exciting market in 2014.

The race is set to take place on October 12th this year.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.