Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Sochi Autodrom, 2021

Sochi’s F1 race at risk as Russia is hit with sanctions over Ukraine

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In the round-up: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine casts doubt over September’s race in Sochi.

In brief

International sports events in Russia at risk over Ukraine

Formula 1 is likely to face pressure to cancel this year’s Russian Grand Prix as the USA, European Union and United Kingdom have brought sanctions against the country following the deployment of its army into eastern Ukraine.

The event, due to take place on 25th September, falls three months after the UEFA Champions League final in June, which was the subject of parliamentary discussion after Britain announced its sanctions yesterday. British prime minister Boris Johnson said it is “inconceivable that major international football tournaments can take place in Russia after… the invasion of a sovereign country.” The secretary of state for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries, added she had “serious concerns about the sporting events due to be held in Russia.”

The Russian Grand Prix joined the F1 calendar in October 2014, eight months after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which also led to sanctions against the country. American president Joe Biden said yesterday he would “impose sanctions in response far beyond the steps our allies and partners implemented in 2014.”

This year’s Russian Grand Prix is due to be the last at the Sochi Autodrom before the event moves to the Igora Drive circuit outside St Petersburg.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner, whose team is sponsored by Russian fertilizer producer Uralkali, said this month he was prepared to “deal with” the consequences of any sanctions which could affect them.

Tsunoda struggled to regain confidence after Imola crash

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Imola, 2021
Tsunoda was rattled by his Imola qualifying crash
Yuki Tsunoda has said that although he was pleased to end his rookie season on a high, “I was really struggling in the first half of the season in terms of confidence [that] I lost after the Imola crash in round two.

Tsunoda said that in the end he “managed to bring back that confidence” and that he hoped 2022 would be “even better still,” after ending 2021 still “not 100 percent.”

“I learnt last year,” he said, saying that confidence had been an issue in his prior single seater career, “I was not having this topic until last year, I didn’t even struggle much in the past four years. Last year I really struggled and it was very hard to bring it back and the confidence I lost.”

Kush Maini joins MP Motorsport for Formula 3

Kush Maini has announced he will drive for MP Motorsport in F3 this season, completing the team’s line-up alongside Caio Collet and Alexander Smolyar. Maini has previously competed in regional F3, coming 11th in the F3 Asia championship in 2021 and second in British F3 in 2020.

Confirmed F3 drivers for 2020

PremaOliver BearmanArthur LeclercJak Crawford
TridentJonny EdgarZane MaloneyRoman Stanek
ARTGregoire SaucyJuan Manuel CorreaVictor Martins
HitechIsack HadjarKaylen FrederickTBA
Van AmersfoortReece UshijimaRafael VillagomezFranco Colapinto
MPAlexander SmolyarCaio ColletKush Maini
CamposPepe MartiHunter YeanyDavid Vidales
CarlinZak O’SullivanBrad BenevidesTBA
JenzerIdo CohenWilliam AlataloTBA
CharouzLaszlo TothFrancesco PizziTBA

Indy 500 veteran Rager dies aged 73

Nebraskan driver Roger Rager, who participated in the 1980 Indianapolis 500 using an engine block from an old school bus, qualifying 10th, died on February 16th, 2022. He was 73.

Rager had only retired from driving competitively as recently as 2009 and was the only driver to win races at Knoxville Raceway in five different decades.

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Comment of the day

After Jamie Chadwick re-signed to defend her W Series title, Robert McKay says a second return for the champion exposes weaknesses in the series’ progression.

For me W series missed its real opportunity – they ought to have had one man and one woman in each team, maybe a couple extra cars. Proving themselves against male drivers would have helped really cement the reputations of the women who were competitive, and if would have looked progressive without needing to be solely limited to women.

Extreme E sort of gets the idea but slightly hides behind having them both in the same team so you can’t really tell the relative performances, at least not easily. Though Extreme E in general would benefit from twice as many cars with each car having only one driver.

“We had such high hopes for the W Series getting a woman into F1. Or at least into a competitive ride in F2.”

This is the other problem – W Series is not and never was a direct stepping stone to F1, but they didn’t really work that hard to disabuse anyone of that notion and the general non-motorsports media have rather taken to assuming that that’s what it’s there to do. It isn’t, not directly anyway. It’s there to help more women get further up the ladder. W Series is basically an F4 level series, maybe somewhere between a decent but not brilliant national F3 series and the international FIA F3 at best.

Maybe ultimately enough women going through W series gets enough women into other series to get a woman to F1, but any woman who makes it to F1 will have made it in bigger series than the W series.
Robert McKay

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Bt52B!

On this day in motorsport

  • Born today in 1953: Satoru Nakajima

Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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48 comments on “Sochi’s F1 race at risk as Russia is hit with sanctions over Ukraine”

  1. In related news:

    There is a supposedly American Formula 1 team on the grid being financed by a Russian Oligarch, running said Oligarch’s kid, and in cars covered in the Russian Flag.

    I suppose they better had their payments in advance?

    1. Yeah that’s going to get complicated quickly..!

    2. I won’t be a bit surprised if Haas runs into money problems, and while I’ll feel sorry for the mechanics and other employees if that happens, I’ll have no sympathy for Gene Haas and Steiner. They both knew who they were getting in bed with.

      1. @Forrest Agreed. Haas has a problem of their own making and I’m not sorry for them at all. As the old saying goes, fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. And this could be twice that Haas is severely impacted by questionable partnerships.

        Of course, this could be just the opportunity for Andretti to pounce if Haas run into money problems and Mazepin’s finances are impacted by the sanctions.

        1. Haas has a problem of their own making and I’m not sorry for them at all.

          Bit harsh, @g-funk.
          I’m sure they’d take factory funding or some huge contract with a high profile corporation if was offered, but they simply don’t have that luxury. They are taking whatever they can get, which isn’t much by current F1 standards.
          Without the Mazepins, they almost certainly wouldn’t even be on the grid this year.

          1. S, Yes, it is a bit harsh. But this is F1. It is the top tier of motor racing in the world. This is not a place for people to figure out of they have the resources to make it in F1. That is what the lower tiers of motorsport are for. If Gene Haas can’t afford the money to support the team after 6 years on the grid, especially after the cost cap has now been put in place, then that is poor planning and poor management on his part. But even taking all that into account, I refuse to believe that the only sponsor money available to the only American team in F1 is either from a fraudulent energy drinks scam or from some Russian oligarch looking for a place to let his son race fast cars.

      2. @forrest This could play into the hands of the Andretti’s.

    3. Agreed. I can’t see how Haas can compete this year with the current sponsorship. Liberty Media (a US listed company) will be bound by whatever sanctions are imposed by the USA.

      To be allowed to compete they would need to farewell the sponsor, undoubtedly fare-welling one of the drivers (oh no!), and assuming their financial situation is as dire as it seems, fare-welling operations entirely.

      Fire sale anyone? Whether Andretti would want it is another matter??

      And I can’t see many (any?) of the teams being allowed to race in Russia based on current geo-political trajectory.

      Depending on who takes what side, Baku could be at risk as well.

      1. undoubtedly fare-welling one of the drivers

        Surely he’s used to leaving early by now. This would just be a little earlier than normal…

      1. Wow, what a happy snap for the family album! Scary just to view.

        I wonder what else fertiliser chemicals could be used for …

      2. This is a big chemical producer, no wonders its owner gets to meet the country’s officials once in a while. The “close connection” argument is just ridiculous. Should we say Elon Musk has a close connection to Donald Trump? Because I can find a photo on the Internet where they meet.

  2. What do you call a “documentary” program like DTS, because it sure isn’t non-fiction. Docudrama is probably more apt.

  3. Re. COTD: In the US, the Road to Indy gives its series champions sufficient prize money to guarantee them a seat into the next step up the ladder, which is clearly defined. It’s full rides from USF2000 to Indy Pro 2000 (which is the closest equivalent, equipment-wise, to W Series) to Indy Lights, and then a $1+ million prize to the Lights champion for a partial schedule in IndyCar. The Formula Regional Americas champ also gets a full ride in Super Formula with Honda backing.

    With the resources that W Series have — including the support of Liberty and F1 — I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t be able to do the same: Identify a logical next step and then pony up to support their champion.

    1. @markzastrow I believe she had a decent budget, Took it to several F3 teams and simply never got signed by any of them as they all felt

    2. When this series was first announced my hope was the winner would get a F3 scholarship not unlike the Road to Indy to join Hitech the following year since they were the ones providing all the cars to the W series in the first place. I was surprised that was not the case.

    3. This is the problem in many parts of the international racing scene: You can top one series, but never get a chance to progress to the next.

      I think the most serious part of this is F2. If I understand correctly, the F2 champion is not allowed to compete in F2 again (ever?), which means if they don’t get a drive in F1 (which most don’t) then they have nowhere to go. They must, effectively, take a backwards step, or at best a sideways step into a completely different “stream” (not sure the correct terminology), which will likely make it even more difficult to crack into F1 later. Winning F2 is more likely to stall a career than make it.

      1. @drmouse

        Indeed. It seems that the best choice is to throw the last race if you have a chance to win and then to make it clear that you did so

    4. The simple truth is that no one involved with “W Series” has any interest in making its competitive landscape obvious for the casual onlooker by putting their dominant multi-champ in Formula 3, where she would be beaten by people 7 years her junior.

      That’s not good for the series, that’s not good for the driver(s), that’s not good for any company currently carrying or supporting “W series”.

  4. What’s going on with the dents/creases on top of the Halo in the Lando video, surely it is not designed that way?
    Is it a sticker hiding some areo?

    1. I think that adding dents and creases are extent of the options that the teams have to modify the aerodynamic elements of the halo. What you are seeing might be something clever designed into the Mclaren package! :)
      On another point concerning the video of Lando on his outlap: Those wheel shrouds look like trouble just waiting to happen. They will certainly look like weapons once they spin off of the car in the first inevitable crash. Hopefully no one will be hit by those boomerangs. Have these bits of bodywork been trouble in other series, or am I just being paranoid?

      1. @ferrox-glideh They look no more dangerous than wing elements, mirrors or any other bodywork sticking out.

        1. @losd I guess that because they are towards the pointy end that they are more hazardous :)

    2. What you see is not the halo the halo is covered with a coat which the team can do ‘limited’ things with it. (Like placing a small winglet on it or make it more aerodynamic to counter the helmet disturpment. Things like this.

      The wheelshrouds will make wheel banging …interesting…..

  5. The proportions of modern cars are all wrong personally speaking. With today’s big long cars I don’t like wide nose tips, last year most cars but williams and ferrari had smaller, better suiting noses. Last year I finally started liking the cars. For this season the noses are all a bit wider again though not as much as they used to be 2 or 3 seasons ago.
    The bigger wheels help balance the car’s length and the nose width in these 2022 cars. I like how the rear wings sits but it is big and so is the front wing. Overall, excluding the new merc, all cars look better this year, and the AT is another new car that looks a lot more sculpted than the ferrari. Ferrari’s livery might be an improvement but a boxy car is not a good omen.

  6. Formula 1 is likely to face pressure to cancel this year’s Russian Grand Prix as the USA, European Union and United Kingdom have brought sanctions against the country following the deployment of its army into eastern Ukraine.

    Cancel it now while they have time to organise an alternative, they should also make plans for a worst-case scenario in Europe.

    1. I wouldn’t bother with an alternate… If there are only 22 races this year, everyone will cheer, rather than cry, I suspect.

      Since “worst case” probably means actual open warfare, I’m not sure there’s a contingency plan for F1 that covers that.

      1. grat,

        wouldn’t bother with an alternate… If there are only 22 races this year, everyone will cheer, rather than cry, I suspect.

        just a feeling but I think Liberty will see things very differently.

        Since “worst case” probably means actual open warfare, I’m not sure there’s a contingency plan for F1 that covers that.

        Well, lets hope it is contained to the Russian and Ukrainian regions, but they could mitigate some of the risk by making tentative approaches to venues outside of Europe. Of course, that would be subject to it not escalating further.

  7. The Haas F1 team has got to be feeling totally hosed by now. They have gone from a fully awkward (Rich Energy) sponsor to a completely awkward (Russian Oligarch) sponsor. Once again, reality has caught up to them.
    Unfortunately for the gird, I think that this may be the (beginning of) the end for Haas in F1. There have just been too many bad decisions at the highest level, and by that I mean grotesque marketing errors. I predict the canny Schumacher to be gone by the end of the year, by his own volition. I predict Andretti picking up the pieces.
    My crystal ball just rolled out of the room and down the street!

    1. I am not betting against you :) But it seems Mario will get his team more cheaply….

    2. The beginning of the End for Haas was when they felt they had to take Storey’s money. When they lost that one, they were deep enough into trouble that their only option to survive was taking the russian flag money @ferrox-glideh.

      I am almost certain that they will have requested the money from Mazepin up front – It’s probably in his own interest, since he will have trouble getting access to it quite soon anyway – and it secures his son a warm-ish spot on the grid.

      Don’t know whether there is any history between Gene Haas and Andretti, but it would make huge sense to see them team up to save that team and save Andretti 200 million into the dilution fund.

      As for Sochi – YES, that should defenitely go. Surely Liberty cannot take money directly from the russians now.

      1. Right you are about Storey’s money. It will be a while before they know the real story comes out, but I hope that you are also right about Haas’ upfrontedness. Mazepin Sr. is involved with a top heavy regime that might not find the balance to succeed in this next season. If you know what I mean.

  8. September is a long way away and things can rapidly change in geopolitics. No need to be hasty.

  9. I was wondering how the DRS flap would work/look with these new wings. Interesting to see it in the McLaren video.

  10. I can’t see the Russian GP going ahead at this point. But, F1 returned to Bahrain mere months after the government had been slaughtering peaceful protesters, and of course is quite happy to race in Saudi Arabia despite its ongoing campaign to exterminate the Yemeni people. Not to mention the decades-long ethnic conflict that has been raging not too far from Sochi itself. So, who knows?

    1. Come on Andy. U got to include the U.S. too. I mean Guantanamo, invading way too many countries to bring them our holy “democracy”😀 🤣, suppressing whistleblowers like Snowden and Assange and many, maaaaaany more global atrocitys. And they are getting 2, in the near future probably 3 races.

      1. Let’s talk again after the US invades and claims for itself parts of Saskatchewan.

      2. @tungdil12 Even if we assume that US foreign policy is morally equivalent to the other countries mentioned, I think the difference is that the Grands Prix in Russia/Bahrain/KSA are specifically used for the purpose of sportswashing those regimes, whereas the US federal government has virtually no presence at Austin. Were Texas to decide to help itself to a big chunk of northern Mexico, we might have to think differently.

  11. I doubt the Russia-Ukraine thing will lead to a cancellation any more than the 2014 Crimea thing.
    Even COVID didn’t cause 2020 cancellation despite Russia having an unideal situation number-wise, so a non-COVID matter causing cancellation is more doubtful. Not to mention the race is seven months away & the Sochi-Adler region isn’t anywhere near the Ukraine border geographically.
    I feel people should calm down & stop over-worrying about stuff.
    BTW, I’ve also seen Azerbaijan mentioned elsewhere.
    They’re further away from Ukraine & don’t share a border even with Russia.
    I doubt anything seriously threatening will happen to Russian GP eventually, although time will tell.

    1. This time it’s more serious and if the USA want to hit them the GP is easy cancelled.

      1. I was in Donbas in 2015 (working for a humanitarian organisation as a journalist) and there is no way on earth anyone cares more now than then. The devastation at the time was excruciating to see, especially as someone who comes from not very far away. People just do not care about the fringes of eastern europe, at all. As a Georgian, it’s pretty obvious that nothing at all will ever happen apart from weak economic sanctions that only hurt regular people in Russia.

        It is very unfortunate that there is this international acceptance that Russia is allowed to murder people in eastern europe/the caucasus/central Asia (as in Kazakhstan recently where troops moved in with a shoot to kill order)

        1. @hazelsouthwell

          What do you expect us to do about it? War with Russia has potentially catastrophic consequences, if they use their nukes. Even if they don’t, the deaths will dwarf anything that Russia is doing.

          And sanctions can never really just target the elites while still being effective. They can just use other people as proxies to get around them. Putin already has people around him that just seem to be holding wealth for him.

          1. @aapje not that I was expecting anything heartwarming from you but that really is an unpleasant response.

            The answer is I expect there to be more than brief media attention to it and for the intense suffering in the regions that have annexations not to be laughed at by international events happening less than 20 miles from the razor wire. Please do not reply.

          2. Unrealistic demands without any idea of how to achieve them: check
            Taking everything personally: check
            Trying to control the behavior of others: check
            Going to delete this response: likely.

            Classic Hazel.

            If you want more positive interactions, you might want to reflect on your own behavior a little.

        2. I do fear that you might be shown to be on the point with that expectation @hazelsouthwell, even though I hope strongly that after that speech and the follow up we will be able to keep our governments from dwindling back into appeasement mode.

          I remember watching the Dutch king sipping a beer in the Heineken Holland house with Vlad a in 2014 when it was already starting to look “little green men” in Crimea and how it made my stomach turn. To have both Heineken and Putin back in Sochi enjoying an F1 race with 2 cars dressed up as the russian flag at the back of the grid while this is going on makes my heart sink even more, especially for the people who will have not choice but to suffer in the region.

  12. I hope the Russian GP is cancelled. I am not sure why it’s even on the calendar bearing in mind Russia’s international activities and reputation. It also historically has produced poor races although I think last years was actually one of the best ones there.

    F1 and Liberty have displayed no moral conscience whatsoever at any point though so if at all possible, they will want the race to go ahead. It’s called money.

  13. Hmmmm….. I don’t recall the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan causing any race cancellations in the USA or UK !!

    1. There wouldn’t be any standards if there weren’t double standards.

Comments are closed.