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.