F1 faces a difficult weekend in Russia

2014 Russian Grand Prix preview

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Formula One faces difficult questions as it arrives in Sochi for the first Russian Grand Prix.

Jules Bianchi’s horrific crash in Japan four days ago has rightly thrust the issue of safety to the top of the agenda.

Running an event to F1’s already exacting safety requirements at a new circuit for the first time for the first time is a steep challenge. The organisers of Russia’s inaugural world championship round now have to do that amid fierce media scrutiny of Formula One’s safety standards.

Meanwhile a debate has begun over whether changes should be made to cars, tracks and race procedures to guard against a repeat of Bianchi’s accident.

These are difficult questions of a different kind to the ones Formula One expected to be confronted with when Bernie Ecclestone decided to grant Russia a round of the world championship.

Sochi’s Formula One circuit is laid out on the site which hosted the Winter Olympic games in February this year. The games threw sharp focus on homophobic legislation introduced by Russian president Vladimir Putin the previous June. US president Barack Obama, British prime minister David Cameron, French president Francois Hollande and Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper turned down invitations to the opening ceremony as a result.

Ecclestone threw his support behind Putin’s politics at the time. But as this weekend’s grand prix drew closer, however, he reverted once again to his default position of ‘F1 doesn’t do politics’.

In that time Russia has faced growing international condemnation over its actions in Ukraine. In March it completed its annexation of Crimea, just 300 kilometres from Sochi. In April the World Superbike Championship cancelled its round at the Moscow Raceway due to the Ukraine crisis.

Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine, and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July which was widely blamed on pro-Russian separatists (though denied by Putin), led to further calls for this weekend’s race to be cancelled, which Ecclestone resisted.

The United States and European Union imposed a series of escalating sanctions on Russian businesses which have had an effect on racing activities outside of Formula One.

Sochi Autodrom information

Lap length5.853km (3.637 miles)
Distance53 laps (310.2km/192.8 miles)
TyresMedium and Soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Sochi Autodrom track data in full

The political questions over F1’s presence in Russia will inevitably be overshadowed by the sport’s recent trauma. But when drivers are risking their lives in the name of competition, it is right to question for whose benefit they are putting themselves in jeopardy.

A grand prix in Russia was an unattractive prospect five days ago, and far less so today.

Russian Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Red Bull

The Sochi Autodrom is from the standard Hermann Tilke street circuit model with an abundance of slow corners. Historically Red bull’s cars have gone well on tracks of this type, and the RB10 shuold be no exception, particularly as the only two significant straights feature DRS zones.

With Sebastian Vettel no longer mathematically capable of winning the championship, Red Bull may take the opportunity to use team orders to give Daniel Ricciardo some assistance. But lagging 73 points behind behind with 125 available, his hope of arriving at the final race still in contention appears to be a forlorn one.


Lewis Hamilton increased his championship lead to ten points over Nico Rosberg at Suzuka.

Although both were spared any serious Mercedes reliability gremlins in Japan, they will be especially anxious to avoid any further problems at this crucial moment in the championship. Even missing out on a practice session with a problem at a new circuit like this could put either at a disadvantage.


Ferrari’s record points-scoring streak came to an end at Suzuka, which served to underline the desperate season they are having. They are on course to end the season without a win for the first time since 1993, so it is small wonder the next four races are rumoured to be Fernando Alonso’s last for the team despite still having two years left on his contract.


With short corners and fairly short straights, this might just be a circuit where the Lotus E22 has a chance of getting among the points-scorers.

However Pastor Maldonado points out nothing can be taken for granted when racing at a new venue for the first time.

“In the past we saw situations like in Austin where the track was super slippery at the beginning and then session after session we were making improvements of two or three seconds,” he said. “It’s vital to stay on top of everything because parts of the set-up that were working well might hold you back when you go five or six seconds a lap quicker.”

As Maldonado was unable to serve his full ten-place grid penalty for an engine change in Japan, the remainder will be applied this weekend.


Jenson Button put in a timely performance at Suzuka to remind McLaren – and new 2015 engine supplier Honda – of his abilities, as decisions are being made about driver line-ups for 2015.

Force India

Sergio Perez says it normally takes ten laps for drivers to get used to a new circuit.

“To prepare for a new track I normally walk the track and cycle it a few times,” he said, “Nobody knows the track so it will be the same situation for all of us. We all start from zero.”


Adrian Sutil was at the scene of Bianchi’s crash when it happened, and will need all his reserves of strength to return to the cockpit this weekend.

There will be two Russian drivers in action during the first practice session as Sergey Sirotkin will drive Esteban Gutierrez’s car.

Toro Rosso

With the announcement in Japan that he will be driving for Red Bull next year, this should have been a triumphant homecoming for Daniil Kvyat, but that has understandably been overshadowed by events at Suzuka.

Russia is a vast nation, and Kvyat’s home city of Ufa is 1,500km away from the Black Sea coastal resort of Sochi.


Williams’ latest upgrade showed potential during qualifying at Suzuka, but the FW36 struggled again in wet conditions on race day. However they look increasingly capable of resisting Ferrari’s attempt to take third position in the championship off them.


If the devastated Marussia team can find the strength to field a single car for this weekend’s race, they will surely have every single Formula One fan behind them. They have set up their garage as usual but the extent of their participation is yet to be announced. Under the circumstances it would be no discredit to them if they chose not to take part.

Marussia’s GP3 team has withdrawn from this weekend’s support races, citing “commercial reasons” and denying any connection to events in Japan.


Marcus Ericsson had his best qualifying session of the year at Suzuka on a track he knows well, but spun away his hard-won advantage behind the Safety Car early on. The team will again field Roberto Merhi during first practice.

2014 driver form

DriverG avgR avgR bestR worstClassifiedForm guide
Sebastian Vettel6.334.422712/15Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo5.273.541813/15Form guide
Lewis Hamilton4.871.501312/15Form guide
Nico Rosberg1.801.851413/15Form guide
Fernando Alonso6.335.002913/15Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen9.679.0041214/15Form guide
Romain Grosjean14.6012.118169/15Form guide
Pastor Maldonado18.2013.90121710/15Form guide
Jenson Button8.937.8631714/15Form guide
Kevin Magnussen8.879.7121414/15Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg10.277.5051214/15Form guide
Sergio Perez11.808.4231112/14Form guide
Adrian Sutil15.3314.2211219/15Form guide
Esteban Gutierrez16.4715.4412209/15Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne11.739.9061310/15Form guide
Daniil Kvyat11.2011.0991411/15Form guide
Felipe Massa7.538.1731512/15Form guide
Valtteri Bottas7.005.6421114/15Form guide
Jules Bianchi17.8015.9292012/15Form guide
Max Chilton19.4716.15131913/15Form guide
Kamui Kobayashi18.9315.7813199/14Form guide
Marcus Ericsson20.4716.90112010/15Form guide
Andre Lotterer21.000/1Form guide

Are you going to the Russian Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to Russia for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you.

We’ve got a dedicated group and forum for people going to the race.

You can embed your pictures from the race via Flickr and videos via YouTube and other major video-sharing accounts. Join in here:

Over to you

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Russian Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2014 Russian Grand Prix

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Image © GP3, Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Red Bull/Getty, Sauber

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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62 comments on “F1 faces a difficult weekend in Russia”

  1. Keith, thanks for the preview as always.

    Are there some words missing from the McLaren section?

    1. @tdog Sorry about that was a HTML glitch – fixed.

      1. Thanks for the really well written preview, appreciated.

  2. YEah, its hard to really look forward to this. We have the thoughts about last week, and then the whole situation in Russia with limited freedom, rampant nationalism and homofobia gets added on top. And the gross disrespect of everyone else around shown in Putins actions in Ukraine enhances that feeling of having an F1 here being wrong.
    Off course a track that is as “inspiring” as Valencia, Korea and Abu Dhabi does nothing at all to improve my enthusiasm for the race either.

    But I guess I will be watching, if only to see the drivers voice their concerns for Bianchi. The Marussia team will have my support whether they participate or not, must be incredibly tough. And Sutil also deserves our support, because seeing the acident first hand and then getting back into the car next week must be tough on him.

    1. I share your concerns, @bascb.

      My country is losing freedoms, nationalism is on the rise and homosexuals still can’t marry. And we’re off fighting another war that is none of our business.

      Our F1 grand prix is also state-sponsored, very political and raced on a street circuit.

      But I still go to watch it and enjoy it. So do many others.

      We’re do I live? Australia.

      There really is no need for you to feel more guilty about watching a grand prix in Russia than a race in Australia, or China or Britain or Malaysia or USA or Bahrain or any of the countries with F1 races that have questionable human rights records.

      You should give the race a go. You never know, you might enjoy it.

      1. yeah, well it looks like the great freedom that was envisioned with the rise of the internet has come back to bite us all over the world, doesn’t it @juan-fanger?

        Oh, and you might feel you are losing your freedom, fighting a war that is none of your business, but at least you don’t get put in jail for writing it openly or disputing that its the right war to fight. Not to mention, you have likely far more freedom to lose than the average Russian has gained since the end of the soviet union.

        I do not feel anything like guilt when I think about the Russian GP. It’s going to happen. As is the football world cup in Russia in a couple of years time (on the upshot, at least Russians won’t be losing rights suring the cup, as opposed to people in Brazil and even SA, because they wouldn’t have had such freedom anyhow, he.). And I certainly was not talking about “feeling guilty” about watching. Just that its hard for me to get enthusiastic about this event (and to a degree, yes, you are right, a lot of F1 altogether).
        Its just that I feel wary about all of this.

      2. You’re upset about living in Australia?..hahaha

        You must be joking. You dont realize how good you have it.

        Anyways, this is not a the place to discuss sociopolitics.

    2. No, I wouldn’t say it’s that hard. Saty out of geopolitics, stay out of moralization, enjoy beautiful Sochi and the race itself – F1 on entirely new ground.

      1. *stay

      2. The problem is that by even holding an event there, you are supporting it: Money and publicity will be given to the host nation, and it’s government.

        It is impossible for a global, prestigious sport like F1 to stay out of politics.

        Note: I am not commenting on the rights and wrongs of the issues involved, just the impossibility of impartiality.

        1. I’m old, been following F1 since Fangio was racing. But F1 allowing this race to run ends it for me. Rewarding Putin and the Russian economy when they are invading and taking over sovereign countries while so many nations are trying to stop them with economic sanctions is just too much for me to stomach. So long, F1, it’s been a long and usually enjoyable ride, but it is over for me.

      3. So you would have had no problem with going to South Africa back in the 1980s/early 1990s and wouldn’t object to a race in Syria or North Korea?

        To pretend that F1 should somehow divorce itself from everything that goes on in the world is naive in the extreme.

        1. Russia is neither racist or a totalitarian dictatorship. Yes it’s conservative, yes it’s authoritarian, but that’ s already many countries on F1 current calendar. So?

      4. As in effect this was a reaction to my post @il-ferrarista – if we keep thoughts about the reasons for staging this race in the first place (big money for Bernie/CVC and prestige for Putin’s Russia) out of the equation, my first reason for not looking forward to the weekend (the condition of Jules Bianchi) as well as a track that is solidly somewhere between Valencia, Abu Dhabi and Korea for what the design promises still stand, and alone give me enough reason to not feel thrilled at all.

  3. Pastor Maldonado points […] nothing

    Never have those words (out of context) made me chortle so much.

    A canker on the sport.

  4. Its a bad thing for the sport to let politics decide what happens. And once we get down that road, there is no stopping it. In my view, politics should be kept separate otherwise our sports will become just another tool to advance political agendas.
    Just imagine, as US invaded Iraq under false pretense, should we have stopped the US grandprix? Yes, if we want politics to decide. No, if we want it to be apolitical. Similarly, the case with Russia. We shouldnt be going down a risky road or tomorrow we might rue our decisions.

    1. Great point mate!

    2. @sohebbasharat

      otherwise our sports will become just another tool to advance political agendas

      Will become? This already happened, why do you think there is a Grand Prix in Russia (not to mention a whole host of other countries with little history or interest in F1).

      1. Why are Grand Prix’s most of all in big, rich, important countries? Such as China, such India, Korea, such as the US, such as Canada, the UK, Germany etc etc..
        France btw lost it’s GP more or less because it’s becoming less and less relevant in today’s world, for real.
        Your’re not calling that little bit politics and/or specially commercial interests??

        Yes, politics _and_ commercial interests are to some extent always part of F1. But it’s not F1s task to…, and politics is not a part of F1 to the extent that we must moralize to russians what they should do or not do with problems like Ukraine, homosexual ppl, the brutality of russian police, etc.

      2. On the nail, my friend, right on the nail

      3. how dare you say that (for instance!) russian, or people in other non-west-european nations have no interest in F1??

    3. politics should be kept separate

      And how, pray, are you proposing to do that @sohebbasharat when the sole reason for the race to be there in the first place – as is the case for Bahrain, for Singapore, for China, Malaysia and others, as is the case in the newly announced event in Baku – is the political will to change or enhance an image of the country (and even as mentioned in the post by @juan-fanger, Australia is political)?

      It was misused for PR reasons in the last years for Bahrain, and it will be now in Russia (just like the olympics were) as it has been numerous times in the past already, going back to the very start of grand prix racing (remember who those legendary Silberpfeile were supported by maybe in the 1930s?) and in a wider perspective, the same has been the case for most sports.

      1. Well by your reckoning, we should just close the business down.. Because US, China, Bahrain, Turkey, everyone have their dirty past and/or present. That is one way to be apolitical, by choosing no country at all. But the other way is to go in whichever country is willing to have the race (and pay the money of course), and not pick and choose based on our personal politics.. I would like this to happen. So if tomorrow, iran or north korea wanna have a gp, im all for it.. Its not as if f1 going there gives them the means to continue their atrocities just as it didnt help US, china, bahrain.. If anything, i think its better.. If the two options are either further isolating a country (like n. Korea) or letting it have more contact with the outside world ( for example the world media descending on it if there is a gp taking place),, i think the second option is better. But thats just me probably, u might have another opinion. But if you do wanna kick countries out based on their human rights records etc, start with China, bahrain, US and ill be all for it. You cant have it both ways..

        1. Not at all @sohebbasharat. Its not about a dirty past (is there any country without its sins? I seriously doubt it).
          What I maintain, is that its a fallacy to think a big sporting event like F1 can ever be “not having anything to do with politics” as you said F1 should “stay”, especially as most races nowadays only are on the calendar BECAUSE the ones in power decided they want to pay Bernie/CVC to have it there.

          I do not want to go about the argument who should or should not host a race for political reasons. But you can’t deny that politics has as much to do with it as money and oppertunity have.

      2. I think it’s important to remember that this is true for all large international sporting events. Look at the Olympics in Beijing, the World Cup in Brazil, The Winter Olympics in Sochi and of course the fiasco with FIFA in Quatar to see that there is a strong political undercurrent driving each of these cities or countries hosting such massive events.

        Any anger at such events should be directed at the powers in charge – CVC, Bernie and the FIA, and not the performers themselves. It’s also important not to allow the actions of a state such as Russia to colour our view of the people who live there. The actions of an elite few who do not speak for the people of Russia who are like you and me should not be held against the many peace loving people found in this country that may benefit (economically, culturally, socially) from having such events take place there.

        As such while I can be critical of the organisers, I cannot find myself being critical of the spectators, marshals, the team employees or the drivers who will take part in the weekend.

    4. So it won’t be “advancing political agendas” when Putin struts around the grid and presents the winner’s trophy, as I’m sure he will?

  5. I was born in the USSR and I believe that Russians are a great nation with a fascinating language, rich culture and a lot of other things they can be proud of. They are very passionate about sports so I am glad that the Russian F1 fans finally have their own race.

    Sochi should be a nice place, it was a famous holiday resort already during the Soviet era and my family often spent holidays there. I have no doubt that the organisation of the event is going to be amazing. I will reserve judgment on the circuit itself until Sunday evening.

    Unfortunately, the Russian Grand Prix also continues the worrying trend of F1 moving to undemocratic countries. I will watch the race and put politics aside while the cars are on the track but, given all the circumstances, this will not be a happy Grand Prix for me.

    1. Well, United States is the first country you should remove from the calendar, if you don’t want F1 in undemocratic countries. As Russia is ran by Putin, as you claim, US is ran by corporations who are allowed to “sponsor” politicians to do their biding. It’s just a more elaborate front for their business. Russia is more straight forward.

    2. @girts
      Thank you for your kind words about us Russians. For people here saying Russians have no interest in the sport, I have been following F1 since 1994, when they just started broadcasting it here.

      Speaking of “undemocratice countries”… hey, hold your horses and please don’t believe everything you read and watch in the media. Putin does in fact have massive support from population and in major part this is due to him pulling Russia out of complete mess it was in the 90’s during Yeltsin times. Yes there are problems, but show me a country without those. It is all very subjective.

      Anyways, let’s hope the track is good. Although to be honest I don’t have too much faith in yet another Tilke design… Will see.

  6. “Meanwhile a debate has begun over whether changes should be made to cars, tracks and race procedures to guard against a repeat of Bianchi’s accident.”

    Most of the debate seems to go about the changes to the car (the covered cockpits), but that would not have helped the rescue marshalls who risked their lives recovering Sutil’s car. It seems inevitable that the focus must (also) go to how to handle situations when rescue marshalls and their equipment are on track.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      9th October 2014, 12:28

      @matthijs – It’s unbelievable isn’t it? F1 is an unbelievably safe place for drivers (considering what they are doing) but it is worrying dangerous for marshalls.

      It appears as though F1, as a sport, doesn’t really value the lives of marshalls. We’ve had several die and nothing has really changed. A driver gets injured and all of a sudden it’s a major panic.

      People are talking about how they aren’t looking forward to the race this weekend because of what happened!? Was anyone’s enjoyment of the British Grand Prix affected last year following the death of the marshall at the preceding race at Canada? What lessons were learnt from last year that have affected how things are done now?

    2. Most of the debate seems to go about the changes to the car (the covered cockpits)

      not really @matthijs. The first shot was given by Villeneuve about having SC for each and every time a car is stranded, and it got quite a bit support from fans, media and from drivers as well.
      Then off course there was and is discussion about the desicionmaking around starting and finishing the race with regards to weather and timing of sunset etc.
      I also saw a lot of discussion brought up about the kind of equipment used to recover cars from track (ranging from a call for cranes behind barriers, like Monaco has to moveable barriers to protect Marshals, Wrapping vehicles in protective barriers and developing special equipment that would be more suitable around F1 cars).
      And yes, we also have the call for closed (canopy), or better protected cockpits (roll bards, cages, …).
      Certainly not just that last point.

      1. @bascb You are right, we do discuss other aspects, more than I remembered. But I feel the focus is now more about the safety of the driver than about the safety of everyone else involved. If Bianchi had missed the crane, a track marshall could have been fatally injured. Yet we would not call out for canopies (which is not a bad thing) and bubble wrapped cranes. I feel that there is more to gain in safety with regards to yellow flag procedures and behaviour, rather than in making cars and objects stronger.

        1. Had Bianchi missed the crane, he would most likely have missed the barrier behind that as well and who knows where the car could have ended up (and Bianchi might have been even worse off, not to mention others around the scene) @matthijs.

          I fully agree with you that more awareness of the dangers is something we do need, and we do not need any hasty “action” for it.

    3. What happens when in the future a car catches fire and the cockpit opening mechanism jams at the same time? People will be crying out to remove cockpits…

  7. Why should F1 meddle in / with the internal politics of an Orthodox Christian empire? The only thing it would cause is more frustration and contempt against the West.

    Let me put it this way, I don’t care if it is too sharp for some: Gay politics have nothing to do with F1, and F1 is going to Sochi because it’s a great spot. And F1 should never never ever think about moralizing to a country of Russias side.

    Ukraine on the other hand have nothing to do with freedom or gay people – it is just a domination struggle between the EU and Russia, over an strategically important country.

    1. **of Russias size.

      1. what does size have to do with it, anyway?

        1. If anything, it should be the big countries that know their responsibility to behave.

    2. totocaster (@)
      9th October 2014, 12:21

      What if one of the drivers is openly gay?

      …Just some food for though.

      1. totocaster (@)
        9th October 2014, 12:24

        * thought

      2. Well no problem. It’s absolutely not illegal to be gay in Russia. Afaik – the legislation is about “homosexual propaganda”, and about “saving children from gays” and such.. =)

        No, not any problem. We already have races in countries where a strict form of Sharia law prevails, now in Russia it’s the other way; the Orthodox Church have immense power together with Putin, and is forcing through old Christian laws concerning sexuality and such.. Nothing that we like, but nothing that we should scream about either.

        1. is forcing through old Christian laws

          you mean, like how the bible mentions you have to take the wife of your brother when he dies? Or stone an infidel?
          I think you really are not talking that much sense @il-ferrarista.

          This is not about orthodox cristianity etc. Its about oppresion, about mass manipulation through state owned media and about taking away freedom from people, including invading neighbouring countries under false pretences (nothing new, I know its been done countless times in the past, but certainly not something I would applaud or put under having to do with any church as such)

          1. First of all; the anti-gay-propaganda law was made together with the Orthodox Church, and Putin uses actively the Church to stir up nationalism in the country.
            Yes that’s oppression, I’ll agree on that.

            – 2nd; Ukraine was in macro scale a defensive action from Russias side. Nothing more nothing less. You’re not mentioning anything about the coup that happend in Kiev in january-february, and the parallel Ukrainian nationalist movement (which is quite hardcore). I’m not defending Russias policies in Ukraine, but they were result of a very complex internal and geopolitical situation. And Russia didn’t invade Ukraine mainland, remember! In fact the so called invasion (on Crimea especially) was done without a bullet being fired.

            Sorry mate, but the civil war in Ukraine and F1 should never ever be mixed together. That waaay to much politics even for F1.

          2. Well, yes. We agree on that first point indeed @il-ferrarista.

            As for the second point you try to make – it just show how you are inbedded in this feeling of anyone being justified to make choices for others just because they can, or because they used to be able to. Yes, there was a lot of politics about Putin having Yanukovic take a “bribe” and not sign an agreement that would have brought more economic potentials for UA. And yes, it was always going to be a tough choice for the regime in UA, because they lived as much from corruption as anyone, and the EU agreement would, over time, also limit their options to do that.
            As for Russia invading UA. Its by now clear AND admitted by Russia itself that it did invade Crimea. And the current stalemate-ish situation in East UA was only arrived at because of thousands of Russian soldiers and hundreds of tanks, and other equipment fighting the Ukainian forces. You might not want to call it an invasion, but in actual fact it certainly was / is.

            Maybe you would like not to mix F1 and politics, but that is a station passed ages ago. With governments payng for races they are almost by defenition tied in with politics.

    3. Let’s be clear: F1 doesn’t go anywhere any more “because it’s a great spot”. It doesn’t matter what the place is like, how interesting the track is, or what the political situation is there. They go there to make more money for Bernie.

      I would love to see the reaction if an openly gay driver went there, though. It would be a fantastic stage for publicising the issue.

      1. Hmmm…there’s a heck of a lot of people making money besides Bernie.

        1. OK, I was using Bernie as an umbrella for all of them. But my point still stands. “They” just want the money.

    4. Because humanity.

  8. Its Hammer Time
    9th October 2014, 11:51

    If Jules were able to give his opinion, he would surely advise to the team to race. I hope the Marussia team field two cars, and give it everything, to compete is why they exist.

  9. 10 points advantage that Hamilton has over Nico are so insignificant because of 50 points in Abu Dhabi…

  10. I’d fully support Marussia if they decided not to compete this weekend. However, I think the best way to honor Jules’ is to protect the two points he so brilliantly collected in Monaco. They’de be kicking themselves if they’d let that advantage escape by not running this weekend. So, I fully hope they race and do their utmost best, as ever.

  11. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
    9th October 2014, 13:35

    “As Maldonado was unable to serve his full ten-place grid penalty for an engine change in Japan, the remainder will be applied this weekend.”

    Is this a new rule?

      1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
        10th October 2014, 9:36


  12. I hesitate to comment on this one, world politics is difficult to pin down at the best of times. Keith, are you now wishing you’d simply declared the holding of an event in Russia ‘controversial’?

    When judging the performance of Putin, don’t just listen to the pro-EU western media. Compare his record with that of his Russian Federation predecessor Boris Yeltsin whose handling of the Chechnya war was a wholesale bloodbath compared to Ukraine. Also bear in mind that the current Ukraine crisis started with a pro-EU Ukrainian anti-Russian revolution earlier this year that ousted the then pro-Russian regime with a series of riots.

    Putin’s got a difficult job with many different factions to control, pause to consider that his actions in Ukraine may simply be what he says, an attempt to stop pro-Russian Ukrainians being oppressed or even murdered wholesale. For a democracy that has barely come of age, Russia is doing much better then the Arab spring is, and hosting such world events as the Winter Olympics, this GP and the World Cup will help to show the hard liners that if you want to be seen in public, you’ve got to behave.

    That’s all I’m going to say, back to F1.

    1. Thank you.

    2. Hi @frasier – just let me note that the second big incursion to “calm down” Chechnya was far more a bloodbath thatn the part ran by Yeltsin, and it was Putin who was in charge at the time.

      I would be willing to consider that Putin is honestly protecting Russians being opressed, if there wouldn’t be so many manipulative and falsified coverage by Russian (state) media. THe reason the seperatists would have failed if not for huge Russian army support, is that their treatment of locals has robbed them of majority support, even despite all the russian language TV brainwashing.

  13. Can we please have a weekend filled with pure, exciting racing and little in the way of politics? I try to be as unbiased as possible, but I want Marussia to finish at least ninth in the championship now, just for Jules Bianchi.

  14. Can Mercedes seal the constructors title this weekend?

    1. yes. I think it needs RBR to win a big chunk of points over Mercedes to keep them from doing so @iamjamm

  15. “Meanwhile a debate has begun over whether changes should be made to cars, tracks and race procedures to guard against a repeat of Bianchi’s accident.”
    I don’t care about odd looking cars or bizarre race procedures but please, please let the tracks stay the way they are … I don’t want another track ruined ‘in the name of safety’.

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