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Formula One teams gear up for Russian invasion 15 Jul 2011

Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren MP4-23, in action at Bavaria City Racing Moscow. Bavaria Moscow City Racing, Moscow, Russia, Sunday 18 July 2010. Red Bull Racing RB7 detail.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Race Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday, 29 May 2011 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Lotus Renault GP R31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Practice Day, Silverstone, England, Friday, 8 July 2011 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Lotus Renault GP R31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 6 May 2011 Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing MVR-02. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 9 July 2011 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Montreal, Canada, Saturday, 11 June 2011

It may be three years before the country expects to stage its first Grand Prix, but this Sunday Russian fans will have the chance to enjoy the spectacle of Formula One at two separate demonstration events - one in the capital, Moscow, the other in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, which is set to host the F1 calendar’s inaugural Russian round in 2014.

McLaren’s Jenson Button, Ferrari tester Giancarlo Fisichella and Lotus counterpart Karun Chandhok are all expected in action at the annual Moscow City Racing event. With a temporary track right by the Kremlin walls, it will be an excellent opportunity for Muscovites to enjoy the sights and sounds of Formula One machinery.

Over 800 miles to the south, the Red Bull, Renault and Virgin teams will be equally busy entrancing the local population at the Formula Sochi Festival. Also taking place on a temporary circuit in the resort’s city centre, the promotional event will undoubtedly whet onlookers’ appetites ahead of the Russian race.

Renault currently field Formula One racing’s first and only Russian driver - Vitaly Petrov - and it will be Petrov who takes charge of the team’s 2010 car, the R30, on the Sochi streets. This season’s R31 show car is also on display at the city’s harbour throughout this week.

“I’m really so happy to be taking part in the demo in Sochi,” said Petrov. “It means a lot to be involved in an activity like this in my home country with my home fans. F1 is getting bigger and bigger in Russia, and to be able to showcase the R30 in front of motorsport lovers is a great thing for the sport and, of course, the Sochi race in 2014. I can’t wait!”

Renault team principal Eric Boullier, who will also be in attendance, added: “The Formula Sochi Festival is a great opportunity to help build the profile of Formula One in Russia. The sport has already taken a big leap in popularity in Russia with the arrival of Vitaly to the sport; the fact that he was able to secure a podium at the beginning of the season has only helped push the sport even more in that part of the world. I’m delighted that Vitaly is in Sochi to show the fans what F1 and Lotus Renault GP is all about.”

Virgin also have a unique relationship with Russia, as they are part owned by Russian sports car makers Marussia Motors. Both of the team’s drivers, Timo Glock and Jerome D’Ambrosio, will get behind the wheel at the main demo event on Sunday.

“This is our first trip to Russia as a team and we are very excited about it,” explained team principal John Booth. “Marussia Virgin Racing’s first Russian connection was made at the team’s inception in 2010, when Marussia Motors became one of our sponsors. During the course of that year they witnessed at close quarters the tremendous passion, commitment and determination within the team and in November last year decided to invest in us.

“We are now extremely proud to be competing under a Russian licence and to underline our determination to succeed we have recently announced a new technical partnership with McLaren and a new technical base for the team. This is just the start of what we hope will be a very warm relationship with the Russian fans. We are honoured to be bringing the Formula One experience to them in Sochi next weekend and we hope that they will take Marussia Virgin Racing to their hearts.”

The Sochi locals will also be honoured with a visit from the defending world champions Red Bull, with Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Buemi taking to the streets for the team. The event has been organised by the Krasnodar region’s motorsport federation with the support of Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister - and head of the Russian race’s organising committee - Dmitry Kozak, and Alexander Tkachev, Governor of the Krasnodar region.

As well as being a rare chance for Russian fans to experience Formula One cars being put through their paces, fans attending the demonstration will be wowed by famous participants from other motorsport series, including seven-time Paris-Dakar rally winners the Kamaz Master team.

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