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19 Aug, 2022 11:38

F1 boss makes Russian vow

Formula 1 ripped up its Grand Prix contract with Russia earlier this year
F1 boss makes Russian vow

There is no prospect of Formula 1 racing returning to Russia after motorsport bosses terminated their Grand Prix contract with the country earlier this year, according to F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.

F1 was among the host of sporting bodies to take action against Russia after the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine.

Racing chiefs first canceled the 2022 Sochi Grand Prix which was planned for September, and then announced that F1’s contract with Russian race organizers had been completely terminated.   

According to F1 official Domenicali, there is no chance of racing action returning to Russia.

“I always say that you should never say never – but in this case I can promise: We will not negotiate with them anymore. There will be no more races there,” the Italian was quoted as telling Sport Bild this week.

The Russian Grand Prix was reportedly among the most lucrative on the F1 calendar.

Races had been held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi since 2014, with the track winding its way around the infrastructure built for the Winter Olympics held in the same year.

The 2022 Sochi race was due to be the last at the venue before the Russian Grand Prix moved to the Igora Drive circuit outside St. Petersburg in 2023.

Responding to Domenicali’s comments, the general director of Russian Grand Prix organizers Rosgonki, Alexey Titov, said F1 still owes Russia money for canceling this year’s showpiece.

“The current situation in world sports is highly politicized. It is necessary to take this into consideration when perceiving the words of Stefano Domenicali,” Titov said.  

“What he said has a pronounced political connotation that has nothing to do with the real spirit of sport. The future of our relations today is really unclear. We will take Stefano Domenicali’s position into account in our further work.

“However, with regard to our previous work, the following fact remains unchanged – the 2022 Grand Prix did not take place in Russia, money was transferred for this stage, which has not been returned to date.

“This duty exists, it has been confirmed, and our position on it remains unchanged. We expect a refund regardless of the current position of [F1] in relation to holding races on the territory of the Russian Federation.”

Rosgonki announced earlier this summer that a music festival would be held at the Sochi Autodrom on the dates when the Grand Prix was planned in September.

F1 officials confirmed in May that they would not replace the Russian Grand Prix on this season’s calendar, instead shortening it to 22 races.

Despite removing races from Russia, Formula 1 chiefs continue to expand to venues such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar – leading to questions over their operations in countries whose human rights record has been questioned.

Domenicali rejected allegations that racing was pursuing profit over principles.

“I’m not selling the soul of Formula 1. I think it’s a normal change,” said the official.

“Money is important everywhere. Also for us. But we don’t just look at [money]. The overall package has to be right. If we were just looking at the [bank] account, the race calendar would definitely look different,” he claimed. 

Formula 1 is owned by US company Liberty Media Corporation, which completed an $8 billion takeover back in 2017.