Tensions around the world are high since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in the Ukraine, killing 298 people on board. The flight was shot down and recriminations are beginning to fester. With pressure and eye focused on Russia, some are calling for a cancellation of the grand prix in October.

According to the Telegraph’s Daniel Johnson:

Conservative MP David Davis is recommending that the Oct 12 race be called off:

“If Russia continues as they have been doing, then the grand prix is one of many things that they should be denied,” he said. “The morally proper thing to do is put the race on hold.

“F1 already had a problem in the past with Bahrain. Whilst I’m not particularly in favour of cancelling sports events at the drop of a hat, I think that Formula One should reflect the global outrage. It would be an important and appropriate response to cancel the race.”

He’s not alone in his concern as Sir Menzies Campbell, of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, suggested that an “assessment of the suitability” should be conducted to determine if Russia should hold the race:

“Public opinion all over the world will find it difficult to accept Mr. Putin taking all the plaudits for this grand prix in Russia and, no doubt, presenting the prizes.”

The World Motorbike Federation has already canceled the Superbike race in September and concerns over freight or travel restrictions are increasing as the equipment would need to ship directly from Russia for the United States Grand Prix.

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone told the Telegraph that F1 plans to “honour our contract” with Putin. “Mr Putin personally has been very supportive and very helpful, and we will do the same,”.

The situation is not unlike that of the Bahrain Grand Prix when political unrest and riots created a public relations challenge for Formula 1 as it entered the country to compete amidst violence.

F1 has always maintained that it is apolitical and not interested in placing any political pressure on a host nation.



An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • If they are contractually obligated give them a race……. but to compensate for the double points in the last race of the season, remove all the constructors points from the Russian race and run a showcase race for test drivers and unsigned drivers only. Basically turn it into a glorified test session.

    Paul Charsley could drive hit Caterham for a ride.

  • Interesting to see how the teams themselves react to this… as we are in a year where there is actually little to race for beyond the points/$ allocation later on (and that allocation is pretty well decided by Russia), a few teams – not MB who have huge interests in Russia – may decide to play the public angle and skip Russia.
    1. Question: Will there be penalties from FOM if they do?
    2. Question: which teams stand to lose the most if they do stand in solidarity with Putin. And that’s what it will look like to the media (especially UK, Dutch, French, German tabloid media).

  • “F1 has always maintained that is it [sic] apolitical and not interested in placing any political pressure on a host nation.”

    I very much agree with what Grace has repeatedly said in the Bahrain discussions; Formula One is inherently and increasingly political. Races often can’t be staged without massive support from the state, often negotiating directly with the chief executive[s] of the government. And the sporting regs even *require* the head of state to present the winning driver’s award!! How in blazes will F1 be able to claim it is apolitical when Vladimir Putin is handing Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg a stupid trophy in front of hundreds of millions of people on global television??

    • It’s difficult to do deals with nations, governments and the like without becoming more attached to the politics that the government is beholden to. I think Grace is correct in that doing a deal with the government of nation places F1 directly linked to the government instead of simply a race promoter in that nation. That’s what makes it difficult with the current model to claim an apolitical status.

  • Rapierman

    Hello, Bernie? Do you remember this thing called the “Cold War”? Don’t get caught on the wrong side when you do these deals. Your “non-committal” statement may not hold water when the Iron Curtain comes back down.