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Russia's Putin races Formula One car in new stunt


MOSCOW (AFP) – In a helmet emblazoned with the emblem of Russia and reaching a speed of 240 kilometres (150 miles) an hour, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Sunday burned rubber on a racing circuit in a Formula One car.

The high-speed session -- unthinkable for almost any other world leader -- was the latest in a series of widely publicised hardman outings for Putin as he seeks to cement his image as the Russian strongman ahead of 2012 elections.

It was also aimed at raising the profile of the sport in Russia as the country prepares to host its first Formula One Grand Prix from 2014 in the southern city of Sochi, under a plan championed by Putin.

State television showed Putin squeezing into the cockpit of the yellow Renault, wearing full racing overalls and a helmet emblazoned with the colours of Russia and the national emblem of the double-headed-eagle.

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