Russia is ready to host the Formula One Grand Prix in Sochi after it holds the Winter Olympic Games in the southern Black Sea city in 2014, President Vladimir Putin told the motor racing supremo Bernie Ecclestone on Monday.
Putin has already agreed with Ecclestone to hold Formula One races at a circuit being built around the Sochi Olympic Park, the first time Russia will have hosted such an event.
"I am happy to say that our project is developing," Putin told Ecclestone at a meeting in Sochi, in comments released by the Russian government.
"Out of six kilometres (of track), over three kilometres have already been asphalted. It's true that this is not the final layer but it shows that work is going in the necessary direction."
Putin indicated that Russia was still aiming to hold its first Formula One race in the Olympic year of 2014, as previously envisaged.
"I think that as we planned we can hold our first races in October 2014," Putin told the Formula One supremo.
The project — agreed in a deal signed in 2010 for Russia to host Formula One from 2014 to 2020 — will use infrastructure built for the games including a stretch of public roads.
Ecclestone, who state television showed wearing a leather jacket at the meeting, was quoted by the Kremlin as saying he was "very impressed" by the work undertaken so far.
"Some countries would be ashamed to see these results," he said, apparently referring to the tardy construction of sporting infrastructure in some parts of the world.
"I would feel sorry for my friends in (2016 Olympics and 2014 World Cup hosts) Brazil when they see what has been built here," said Ecclestone.
Along with the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup, the Formula One race is a centrepiece of Putin's plan to make Russia a globally respected host of international sporting events.