Putin roars off in F1 race car
Published 08/11/2010 | 09:04
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin has taken a Formula One racing car out for a spin, reaching speeds of almost 150 mph.
Mr Putin signed a deal last month with Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone to bring F1 racing to Russia starting in 2014, and his televised test drive could help raise the profile of the sport in Russia.
The stunt also matches the action-man image Mr Putin has cultivated over the years, beginning with his startling flight into Chechnya in 2000 in a fighter jet.
Over the years, Mr Putin has been seen flipping opponents on the judo mat, riding a horse bare-chested through the mountains and swimming the butterfly stroke in a Siberian river.
This summer he showed his prowess by firing darts from a crossbow at a grey whale while being tossed around in choppy seas. He also took the controls of a firefighting plane to dump water on one of the wildfires sweeping through villages south of Moscow.
After receiving instructions from a Formula One team, Mr Putin climbed into the bright yellow racing car wearing a matching jumpsuit and then drove off by himself along an empty road near St Petersburg. He spun the car at one point, but regained control.
When he finished the drive and was told his maximum speed, he smiled and said in English: "For the first time, it's good."
Formula One cars reach speeds of well over 200 mph.
Under the Formula One deal, Russia will hold grand prix races near the Black Sea resort of Sochi, which is also hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.