Ecclestone hails Russian Grand Prix deal

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The Independent Online

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes Russia can play a major role in the sport following yesterday's historic agreement.

Ecclestone and Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a seven-year deal, from 2014-2020, at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The city is due to host the winter Olympics in February of 2014, which could put the race on hold until the following year.

Regardless, Ecclestone is delighted Russia will finally be on the F1 calendar after twice coming close in the past, only for deals to fall through.

"I sincerely hope Formula One is going to play a big part in what I can see happening in Sochi," said Ecclestone.

"I'm sure the circuit can be a super circuit. It's all the things we need and wanted, and we are very happy.

"They are trying to build absolutely first-class facilities both for the Olympics and Formula One."

With F1 expanding to 20 races next year as India is due to host its debut race, Ecclestone has already conceded that figure represents breaking point for the drivers and teams.

America is due to return in 2012 with a new circuit being built in Austin, Texas, which means one of the current grands prix will have to make way to accommodate.

It will be a similar situation in 2014 or 2015 when Russia comes on board, with the likes of China and Turkey understood to be the most vulnerable venues.