MOSCOW, July 21 (R-Sport) - Ex-Formula One world champion Jenson Button is open to idea of holding a Formula One race in Moscow, he said Sunday.
The city government has announced plans to build an F1 track in the capital’s southern suburbs, even though Russia is expected to host its first Grand Prix next year at a circuit in the southern city of Sochi.
“I don’t think there’s any reason not to have two Grands Prix in one country,” Button said, but cautioned the Sochi race would have to be a success first. “I think first we should concentrate on what we can do with the Sochi track. … Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
The idea of a Grand Prix on the streets of Moscow has been discussed in F1 circles since the Soviet era, with several aborted attempts to set up a track in or around the capital.
Over the last six years, an annual demonstration event in which F1 cars speed around the Kremlin has become a popular summer fixture in Moscow. Button is taking part this year and said it played a valuable role.
“This here, the Moscow City Racing, is perfect a year in advance of the Grand Prix,” he said. “There are motorsport fans here, but I’m sure there are other people who have never watched Formula One on TV will be interested in the sport by seeing a Formula One car pass today. So this is fantastic promotion, if you like, for the Grand Prix next year in Sochi.”
Unlike reigning champion Sebastian Vettel, who has visited the Sochi circuit and driven its route in a road car, Button said he knew little of the track beyond having seen a diagram.
“I look forward to driving it,” he said. “It’s always exciting to learn a new circuit, especially one that’s based around a city.”
The 5.9-kilometer track in Sochi uses many of the access roads for the venues at which Russia will host the Winter Olympics next year.
Its first race is widely expected to be in fall 2014 to allow organizers to reconfigure the area after February’s Olympics.