HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL The inaugural Russian F1 GP is only two weeks away, but the event still has many challenges. Image: AFP
SOCHI, Russia - Here we are, only two weeks before the Russian stop of the globe-trotting Formula 1 circus at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, and the event remains highly controversial.
Despite the Ukraine crisis, the MH17 plane atrocity and tension between Vladimir Putin and the West, Bernie Ecclestone and the International Automobile Federation are determined to stage Round 16 of the 2014 Formula 1 championship on schedule.
'SPORT IS OUTSIDE POLITICS'
Charlie Whiting has inspected and approved the new Sochi Autodrome and F1's official website now declares it to have been officially launched and opened.
Race promoter Sergey Vorobyev has said: "The first F1 track in Russia has officially opened and very soon will host the inaugural 2014 Russian F1 GP."
The racing teams are bound contractually to follow the lead of Ecclestone and the federation, whether they want to go or not. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said: "We must rely on the governing body and the promoter for guidance."
'SPORT OUTSIDE POLITICS'
Public opinion, however, may be another matter. German news agency Sport-Informations-Dienst commissioned a poll that shows 71% of those surveyed to be opposed on political grounds to Russia hosting F1.
Hardly surprisingly, the Russian deputy prime minister doesn't agree. In case you've never heard of him, he's called Dmitry Kozak and was quoted by the Itar Tass news agency as saying:Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 F1 season – fresh reports every day.
"Sport is outside politics and this principle must be observed."