- The Opel brand were one of the first entrants into the 1913 Russian Grand Prix, but didn't win the race. (Credit: Lothar Spurzem, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0 DE)


Mercedes-Benz were alright back then as well.

32w ago

When Formula One travelled to the Sochi Autodrom in 2014, it was the first time the sport in its current form was to hold the Russian Grand Prix.

The track runs around the venues that comprise the Olympic Park, which was built to support that year's Winter Olympics in Russia.

The track signed an original agreement with the FIA to hold the race until 2020, meaning this running of the Russian Grand Prix will be the seventh in the F1 era.

There have been previous failed attempts to get a race in Russia or the Soviet Union on to the calendar, such as in 2008, when Herman Tilke began work on the Moscow Raceway, but despite hosting several lower formulae, it never got as far as Formula One.

Bernie Ecclestone was keen to see a Grand Prix in Moscow in 1983, and despite meeting Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev, as well as getting a date set on the provisional calendar for that year, the race never came to fruition.

You actually have to go as far back as 1913 to find details of any Grand Prix race held in Russia.

These were the days before Formula One, of course, and races would regularly take two or more days over longer distances than what we see today.

According to Maurice A. Kelly, who wrote the 2017 book titled 'Russian Motor Vehicles: The Czarist Period 1784 to 1917', the race spanned over 276km and a total of seven laps. There were several Russian entries, whilst the top European drivers of the day also took part.

1913 was a successful year for Peugeot, whose L-76 car had already won that season's running of the Indianapolis 500 at the hands of Jules Goux. It was a landmark victory for the Frenchman, who became the first European ever to win the event.

The notable European entry came from Benz, which was a separate entity from the Mercedes brand until 1926.

Its driver, Georgy Suvorin, won the Russian Grand Prix comfortably, finishing almost three minutes ahead of fellow Russian Ivan Ivanov in the Russo-Balt.

The car Ivanov drove was known as the 'Russian Cucumber', for its green colouring and shape. It set several speed records in Russia at the time, and the Russo-Balt company had a factory in St Petersburg.

The race would be held once again in 1914, this time with Willy Scholl winning a slightly shorter race in the Benz car, 10 minutes clear of his nearest challenger.

It therefore means that a variant of the Mercedes-Benz brand is recorded as having won every staging of the Russian Grand Prix, with the Mercedes team winning every Grand Prix since F1 returned to Russia 100 years after the last staging.

In terms of driver accolades, Lewis Hamilton has won the race on four occasions, with Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas, Suvorin and Scholl all winning once.

With Mercedes's dominance in 2020, it looks as if this weekend's Russian Grand Prix could once again go the way of the German outfit.

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Comments (4)

  • Georgy it's James, let Lewis through please.

      7 months ago
  • Motor racing was very popular in Soviet Union, but it was very primitive. However there were attempts by Soviet Union to get into International events. I commented before about wo notable examples. First one is by Josef Stalin's son Vasiliy who was obsessed with Le Mans. These cars were originally designed for him to race at Le Mans in 50's. But then daddy dies and Vasiliy falls from grace. Some of them are still in existence. There are two surviving examples of ZIL-112 Sport. One is in private collection in Sweden and one is in Riga Motor Museum. Another one worth mentioning Formula 1 Moskvitch G5. I believe it was built for Gagarin. He was introduced to Jimmy Clark and they became friends. Unfortunately, Gagarin was killed in air crash. No one knows what happened to the car. Although Moskvich 408 was a crap of a car, it still managed to compete in and finished 1968 London-to-Sydney Marathon.

    This is Formula 1 G5

      7 months ago