#F1 Features: The folly of F1 going racing in Russia

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On the day when relations between the UK and Russia sunk to a low not seen since the end of the cold war, the British government yesterday relented to calls for a public inquiry into the death of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko,

As I wrote yesterday, the voices expressing concern over F1 and Sochi will grow louder in the coming days. Today a number of the political choir members begin the warm up which precedes the full chorus as questions begin to be asked.

There is still plenty of ‘no comments’ around at present, similar to those TJ13 received from the UK Prime Minister’s office.

TJ13’s stance on the ‘racing in Russia’ question, as posted in yesterday’s article, is that that F1 should unite around article 1 and refuse to be used for political purposes. This provides everyone with an easy ‘out’, though the thought of losing a reported $60m from Russia and Putin will be causing Ecclestone no end of sleepless nights.

Deep down, even Bernie Ecclestone knows to take the show to Russia, do a grid walk meet and greet with Putin and his cronies whilst the TV pictures beam this love in across the world to billions of eyeballs is an untenable proposition. Yet it’s about who blinks first. Can Bernie find a way to be ‘prevented’ from taking F1 to Russia and still get paid?

Though this week, the 83 year old F1 supremo said, “we’ve got a contract…. we’re going”.

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Presently the reasons being suggested as to why F1 should ‘do the right thing’ and call off the race in Russia resemble a smorgasbord of opinion.

Ex-Foreign Office minister, MP David Davis, calls for the race to be abandoned as a punishment/withholding of privileges from Putin.

“If Russia continues as they have been doing, then the grand prix is one of many things that they should be denied.” Davis adds, “The morally proper thing to do is put the race on hold” 

It appears the opposition to this Formula 1 race is better organised than for Bahrain 2012. Then the calls to abandon the race only entered the public domain in the week before the race as last minute private members motions of protest were lodged and on the whole ignored.

The Russian Grand Prix is three months ahead, and in that time the evidence of all the circumstances around the shooting down of flight MH17 will grow much stronger.

Davis refers to matter of Bahrain 2012 and the political fall-out Formula 1 had to take back then. It is almost certain Vodafone withdrew from their contract with McLaren one year early because they were refused the request to remove their logo’s from the MP4-27 which competed that year.

In 2013, the Vodafone name was not in evidence on the McLaren car at the Bahrain GP.

“F1 already had a problem in the past with Bahrain”, says Davis. “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,” Davis reflects.

Sir Menzies Campbell, of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, demanded there be an “assessment of the suitability” of Russia to stage the race. The former Lib Dem leader added, “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.”

Dr Andrew Foxall, director of the Russian Studies Centre pragmatically comments that F1 and morality have never been synonymous. “Formula One is not, and never has been, an organisation known for morality,” adding yet “there are a host of reasons why this race should not go ahead”. One of those he suggests is that this race will represent a “tacit approval” of Putin’s regime – something the politicians are more likely to care about.

F1 writer Joe Saward, writes today about why the Russian GP should be cancelled. His position is interesting particularly since he was dubbed ‘Coffee Shop Joe’ having been duped by Bahraini government ‘plants’ pretending to be ‘normal’ Bahraini’s whilst drinking coffee in Starbucks in Manama during the 2012 Bahrain event.

Joe argues that since F1 is primarily funded by countries with a Western ‘liberal’ view of Russia and that perception is everything, why fight the negative publicity F1 will undoubtedly receive.

“If there is the perception among these people that Russia is the bad guy, then it is wise not to risk damaging the sport by insisting on doing something that people think is wrong. Perception is reality whether the perception be true or not. F1 and the FIA ought to have learned that lesson over Bahrain”.

Indeed, there are many sponsors who may not wish to be associated with a sporting event in Russia at present, so why upset them by forcing them to display their logos on the F1 cars?

The sponsors will eventually vote with their feet, and as with Bahrain 2012, the hospitality suites at the circuit will be tented versions of a ghost town.

The 28 headed chicken that is the EU head of state forum, managed to agree a range of ‘level 3’ sanctions against Russia yesterday; this is to be fleshed out and voted upon on Thursday. One of the measures includes the prohibiting the provision of or sharing with Russia, ‘sensitive technologies”.

How this is fleshed out, may determine whether a ban on F1 teams taking their highly sophisticated prototype racing automobiles to Russia becomes a matter of course for the European governments with F1 businesses resident within their jurisdiction.

The rights and wrongs of each conflict zone across the globe have two sides to every story. Yet F1 should not be involved in politics, but it is impossible for the racing circus to pitch it’s big top in the beach side resort of Sochi without being used for political capital by Russia.

Whilst MH17 is being used by all sides of the political spectrum as an opportunity to score points against others, what is certain is that this commercial airliner was blasted out of the sky’s by a piece of hardware few governments across the world have access to.

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298 people were brutally killed, some most likely alive for some time after the missile struck. The geopolitical shockwaves from this event have yet to be fully felt.

This was no hand held bazooka type weapon used for knocking out helicopters in Hollywood action movies, it was in effect a short range ballistic missile, loaded with highly sophisticated technology.

1000’s of airliners fly across the conflict zones or aggressive nations of the world every day. These include North Korea, Israel and Ethiopia, PikeIraq, Syria, Lybia, Mali, Congo, Kenya, Yemen, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan.

Yet we don’t see aircraft obliterated from the sky on even an infrequent basis. The reason is simple, the number of weapons with this capability is limited (you can’t unwittingly lose one) and the training required to successfully launch one and hit the target usually requires an officer of some years experience.

So the metaphorical ‘finger on the button’ was definitely not one from a posse of poorly educated and disenfranchised farmers and miners.

Thus, for a world leader to contemplate allowing such a weapon to be available in the kind of conflict which is taking place in the Eastern Ukraine, demonstrates a stratospheric lack of judgement – verging on certifiable lunacy.

F1 cannot parade itself with Putin, whether he is a lamentable fool or maniac. This kind of rhetoric describing the Russian president will become normative over the coming weeks in the Western media and the longer it takes for F1 to call off their sojourn in Sochi, the more ridiculous the sport will look.

The FIA, the world motorsport governing body, via an unnamed spokesperson, today stated it “does not mix politics and sport”. This already is sounding banal and as the MH17 tale continues to run  – and run it will for weeks.

It maybe that the highly intelligent individuals in F1 have not yet fully connected all the dots on this topic. Many of these people are family folk and we respect them as first as individuals and despite their genius.

Hopefully, those with gravitas within our sport will come to the conclusion soon that traipsing off to go racing in Russia, is no longer a bright idea.

It would be better if Formula 1 did the ‘right thing’ – just for once – before its hand is forced.

92 responses to “#F1 Features: The folly of F1 going racing in Russia

  1. I wonder if BE would be happy to go if one of his daughters was on that plane, or indeed it was her private plane.

    I wonder what would happen if anyone of F1 importance was on that plane. Unfortunately it was “only” a plane with normal pll, oh and 6 of the greatest medical minds, that were attending a seminar in Australia, that were making headway into the AIDS virus. Some of the most intelligent people on the planet. Their families. And the minds that were closest to stopping one of the biggest deadly viruses of our time.

    One thing is for sure… If F1 attends Russia, BE better damn well be there, and he better damn well shake the hands and get the photos. Him skipping out, saving his direct image, but dragging F1 there would be not on.

  2. Judge. What’s this one all about?

    “F1 writer Joe Saward, writes today about why the Russian GP should be cancelled. His position is interesting particularly since he was dubbed ‘Coffee Shop Joe’ having been duped by Bahraini government ‘plants’ pretending to be ‘normal’ Bahraini’s whilst drinking coffee in Starbucks in Manama during the 2012 Bahrain event.”

  3. ” … Yet we don’t see aircraft obliterated from the sky on even an infrequent basis. … ”

    Can any of the oldtimers on here remember what the worldwide reaction was when 290 people were shot down in this incident? :


    ” … Iran Air Flight 655 was an Iran Air civilian passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai that was shot down by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes on 3 July 1988. The incident took place in Iranian airspace, over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, and on the flight’s usual flight path. The aircraft, an Airbus A300 B2-203, was destroyed by SM-2MR surface-to-air missiles fired from the Vincennes.

    All 290 on board, including 66 children and 16 crew, died. …. “

    • Tragic indeed. Very sad to read that.

      On a side note, I highly doubt Russia will be sending an inflation adjusted $300-$400m to all the victims families around the globe and the airliner. Even if conclusively proven that Russia had a major hand in the supply and training of their pro-Russian criminals.

      • “… that Russia had a major hand in the supply and training … ”

        UK, USA, Australia, etc. etc. all have had and continue to have a major hand in the supply and training of various factions all around the world, factions who commit all kinds of atrocities, yet no one ever suggests that these suppliers/trainers should pay a single $ in compensation to anyone.

        Sadly, that is the world we live in. Arms trade is seen as a legitimate, major and important part of the economy of many industrialised countries.

        Formula 1 isn’t going to change that one iota.

        • Like your disingenuous connection between Australia’s treatment of Australian Aboriginals and the pro-Russian led shooting down of MH17 and the 2012 Bahrain conflicts, which I let go yesterday, I also find the connections you would have us make in your above reply equally disingenuous. In fact, it seems simply a thinly veiled defence of this catastrophe, as in, “well westerners, remember this… And this…” etc.

          • I have three words: Consistency, hypocrisy, money.

            As Fat Hippo says below, the reaction to 290 Iranians killed by the US was : “The reaction was simple – none.”

        • PK, I find your Nashibot™-like pro-Kremlin propagandizing whataboutery to be intellectually dishonest and, frankly, a waste of time.

          Is there a way to block all of a user’s comments so as not to waste time reading any of them, when you can reasonably assume they will be defending pro-Russian criminal terrorist murderers who are waging an illegal proxy war against legitimate Ukraine gov’t on behalf of an evil Russian authoritarian regime?

      • Did they last time? Korean Air 77.. although they kept that one under wraps, until almost a decade later when Glasnost started happening..

        • Putin appears to have an inflated view of Russia’s right to intervene in its ex-empire. Britain used to have an empire which stretched across a third of the globe, but had to learn to adapt to a much smaller global presence. Maybe it’s time Russia learned to grow up and understand their much reduced place in the world….

    • >Can any of the oldtimers on here remember what the worldwide reaction was when 290 people were shot down in this incident? :

      The reaction was simple – none.

      • I’m guessing people would only have heard about it if it was in the TV, radio or newspaper news… no other way existed back then..

  4. Unfortunately, we start to enter a new cold war era and you will hear a thousand conspiracy theories and each party blaming the other for the tragedy. As usual the weak and small (Ukrainian people) become the pawns in the chess game of the powerful (US/Russia). In 1980 some of the western nations competed in the Olympics without their national flag, instead flying the Olympic flag. I guess one way for Bernie to get his money and the Western world to send a strong protest signal, would be to run with 22 white cars and the winners refuse to get to the podium to get their prize.

    • Please give Ukrainians a bit more credit and respect than to demean them as weak & small. Ukrainian Maidan Heroes have bigger balls than most fat, lazy, cowardly American men who talk tough on beer, but have no idea what it means to actually risk one’s life fighting against a criminal authoritarian regime.

      Ukraine gov’t only needs the $$$ to equip its forces – including a rejuvenated and reconstituted force of border guard troopers – and some time to train them, and they will crush the pro-Russian criminal terrorists who have been in constant retreat for weeks now. The only reason Putin cynically cries for and whines demandingly that Kiev should agree to ceasefire w/ criminal terrorist Russian proxies is b/c that is only action that will save the traitorous disloyal pseudo-Ukrainians and their thuggish Russian co-conspirators. Putin knows it is impossible for Russia to provide sufficient support to the pathetic, delusional DPR – never mind actually invade w/ regular Russian troops – and the rebels’ defeat is inevitable.

      Please reconsider your unfair description of the brave, loyal, lionistic Ukrainian People!

  5. This Russia boycott will not happen. There are to many people who depend on Russia and Ukraine. Germany, holland, belgium and many others use mainly Russian gas. The French and belgium deliver weapons to them so they won’t boycott their own moneymaker. We see these 200 dead people but the mighty of the world see their dollars and euros. Never forget that fact.

    • Not only the French deliver weapons. UK, too. Sniper rifles, night vision goggles, rifle ammunition and communications equipment.
      Germany delivers material, too. After Crimea, all licenses were rescinded, but orders from before the Ukranian crisis were still carried out.

      Currently France, Begium, Netherlands and UK are still accepting orders from Putin.

      • @Fat Hippo

        Agreed, with your and similar posts. Like I posted last night, there is a geopolitical agenda at play, and it is trying to shape public opinion, and the news media is following like a poodle. As I write this, Washington and London are furiously rowing back from their bellicose rhetoric. When the evidence has been gathered and analysed by the wider community, that is the time to point the finger and seek retribution. I think there is a great deal of hypocrisy in the article, and many of the replies. Hippo you might want to add Syria to your list. America was trying to force its allies including Germany and the UK into starting military action. This included supplying arms and military advisers, which many experts believe happened. Now we have ISIS, and Iran is now seen as helpful. What a strange world.

        • Agree with you, until proven without doubt it was Russian backed separatists it’s difficult (for me anyway) to say who is right and wrong. Ppl died but when it happened my first thoughts was we live in a messed up screwed up world and then I though who would gain most from such an incident…

          The world/west did not really give a rats over Ukraine so the plane goes down and look at it now… Who benefits from the plane, separatists or Ukraine?

          • Surely you are not saying that you disbelieve the internationally-accepted analysis and admissions from the very culprits who acknowledged culpability of pro-Russian criminal insurgent terrorists for shoot-down of MH17?

            Also, your statement “Who benefits from the plane, separatists or Ukraine?” is both offensive AND illogical.

            It’s offensive to suggest that Ukrainian gov’t would even for one second try to facilitate murder of nearly 300 int’l air travelers.

            And it’s illogical to suggest that pro-Russian criminal terrorist morons shot-down MH17 hoping to “benefit” from its destruction. They obviously were incompetent and thought they were shooting down Ukrainian military aircraft – not a civilian jumbo jet.

            Please – improve your education and/or stop being disingenuous!

  6. I think we are unlikely to ever know the whole truth behind the shooting down of the plane. f1 happily goes to country’s with dodgy human rights, china, USA, Bahrain, we had turkey with its illegal occupation of Cyprus, and of course own illegal wars in recent times, or at best wars started under dubious cirumstances. Did we have the rest if the world demanding we cancel our grandprix? There was wide spread codemation of Britain and the our phoney war. I’m not condoning it all, my point it’s different perspectives depending on which part of the world you’re from.

      • Judge, you hit the nail on the head, when you said the west, f1 isn’t just the west anymore.

        Sorry just playing devils advocate a bit.

      • tj13: “All good points, but I think the prevailing perception in the West will be fairly unanimous”

        Because their view is shaped by news media, who follow a particular line, that is tied to those who have a particular geopolitical agenda. Most citizens get their news from a third party. Very few ever see a newsworthy event first hand. Everything is filtered and homogenised.

        “All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”
        ― Friedrich Nietzsche

          • We had Mr Nietzsche quoted earlier, and the statement he made is typical of 17th century enlightenment philosophy… They believed that they were the great thinkers of society and above the masses, it was only they and others who thought like them who knew the truth….

            Truth is used by many as an absolute term, and those claiming to know it, believe they are in possession of superior knowledge or interpretation than the rest of us mere mortals….

            Today, Truth is far more linked to perception, which of course is different depending on your socio economic, geographical and educational background…

            If vast swathes of global society decide for whatever reason Putin is a pariah…. Then that is the truth….. For now at least.

          • tj13

            Oh really! That’s a politicians answer. The mushroom principle – keep people in the dark and feed them c..p(Lauda word). As an engineer I observe, measure, and come up with a conclusion, or use the scientific method. Perception is for the lobotomised masses, controlled by the establishment. My Nietzsche quote, is a simple statement that those in power control the narrative, to suit their agenda, and their truth prevails. Even if it is a mile from the real truth.

            Always question!

          • Mmm. Scientist sits on hill, views raw data for 24 hours. Concludes sun rises above the ground, moves across the sky, and sets behind the horizon…

            1000 years later, scientist goes to same hill, views same raw data for 24 hours

            Concludes earth is rotating…

            Never forget the power of one’s interpretative grid…. through which we observe raw data…. 😉

    • There are a few things that seem to have been overlooked here. Firstly the BUK missiles were already present in the East Ukrainian military bases, recently taken over by the separatists. Whilst they were originally purchased from Russia this was some time ago. Secondly it’s disingenuous to suggest the separatists are “poorly educated and disenfranchised farmers and miners”, do you really think the Ukrainian military currently trying to defeat them is so inept? A friend from Kiev assures me the situation is much more complex than what we see on the western media, and that within the separatists are former special forces from East Ukraine. So it seems quite feasible that they have the skills required to attempt to use the weapons they’ve recently acquired, even though they may not be experts and 100% capable. This fits well with the belief that MH17 was a ghastly mistake. So laying the blame entirely at Russia’s door, even though they may be supporting the separatists, is convenient for the media but not entirely true.

      • You are a pro-Russian Nashibot troll with imaginary friend in Kiev.

        Pro-Russian criminal terrorists incompetently shot-down a civilian airliner, thinking it was Ukraine military flight.

        Russia is engaged in state support of terror by funding and equipping DPR, which US Congress will soon move to declare a terror-organization, and those who defend Putin and the criminal gangster thugs fighting in east against legitimate Ukraine gov’t are no better than Russian propagandists.

  7. Well – there’s Russia in a nutshell. The Russian Duma is currently preparing a law (slated to be waved through in october) to hand out licenses to private ‘security services’ styled after the infamous “Blackwater” mercenaries of the USA to – quote – “secure Russian national interests in cases where the use of regular military forces is associated with political or legal inconveniences”

    Goodnight Ukraine, Transnistria, Georgia, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Finland …

    • Surely the excrement will be flying from the fan when they try and move in on EU territory? Won’t that drag in NATO? The others I imagine will just get ‘a stern telling off and escalation of rhetoric’.

      • Putin’s definitely playing with the fire here – in a fuel depot. It’s pretty obvious that he’s lost contact with reality.

        I just don’t hope that I one day have to see Merkel waddle out of a plane, waiving a piece of paper about and prattling on about “peace in our time”

        • ….it may have been quite different had there been German and French citizens on flight MH17….

          the Hippo is right – self interest rules……

          • There were four Germans on that plane. But the Russians have us by the balls due to our dependency on Russian gas. We have emergency deliveris coming in from Norway, but they would only amount to 80% of what’s needed.

          • We suddenly had to ship all our coal in from over seas during the miners strike under Thatcher. Black outs regular, candles etc….

            Went on for ever….

            Gotta do what ya gotta do

          • Fat Hippo, are you East or West German born and raised?

            It will be very disillusioning to hear if you are from the DDR, b/c you people are supposed to understand both the necessity and possibility of crushing the Russian Bear in the Fulda Gap – even if your cannon fodder would’ve been some of first to be blasted into oblivion by tactical nukes and A-10 Warthog cannon-fire.

          • I’m from the east and there would have nothing happened in the Fulda gap.

            a) because the attack would have been three-pronged and

            b) because we would have attacked on a Saturday, when the Bundeswehr is at home.

        • Can the US export its shale gas? I guess not so far..

          I’m sure we could ‘take’ Russia, if it came down to EU vs. Russia, but I also have no doubt that they would just chuck a nuke in the London-Ruhr direction if pressed into a corner… Putin or whichever madman follows him once he is ousted..

    • This is good fear mongering. For example, why is Finland on the list? Or Poland? USSR and Russia had good neutral relations with Finland since World War 2. As for Poland, USSR withdrew from East Europe unilaterally. Average Russians do not care about Poland. Neither I hear much about Poland or Finland when I watch Russian TV news (which I often watch, sometimes for laughs or sometimes for alternative viewpoint). Instead, it is always Poland who has been pursuing aggressively anti-Russian policy for the last 20 years or so. Bashing Russia has always been a badge of honor among Polish politicians. I have never met any Russians who hate Poland (or who have anything to say about Poland) but some of the most pathological Russophobes I have met or seen happened to be Polish. It is the aggressive expansion of NATO into east Europe what made Russia so worried about what happens in Ukraine and Georgia. They just don’t want Ukraine to turn into the next Poland.

      Not that I approve Russian interference in Ukrainian politics. It’s stupid and will hurt Russia long term. The West Ukrainian nationalists never held the presidency longer than a single term. There is a good chance they could screw the country again, and then a pro-Russian could get elected again (well, that ain’t happen any more after 2014)

      Russian Duma is a notorious collection of reactionary populists and nationalists, and some of the laws they pass should be rather embarrassing to Russian citizens.

      • Polish people are Russophobes for a reason, if you remember. Before WWII Stalin and Hitler concluded to eradicate Poland off the map by slicing it up among themselves and in 1980 the Russians forced Jaruzelskij to declare martial law threatening him to stage another Prague Spring if he didn’t.

        And are you really believing that Putin will be satisfied with Crimea? He wants all ukraine. Happy with Transnistria? No, he wants all Moldova. Happy with Abchasia and Ossetia? Nope, all Georgia it will be. We’ve seen it three times now and we’ll see it a fourth time. Choose a baltic state of your liking and go from there.

        • I also have heard that when Poland was a province of the Russian Empire in 19th century, Russians once even tried to Russify Poland and banned the education in Polish language. So bad memories probably existed even from times prior to Katyn, but Poles could realize that this is not a 19th century any more, or WWII, or even 1980. (yes, Putin should also realize that we live in 21st century too)

          As for Katyn massacre, when Stalin ruled USSR, all of people of USSR suffered their own version of Katyn. Everyone who was educated, or owned land or other property was eventually rounded up and sent into Gulag. Regardless if Russian, Jewish, Georgian, Polish, etc. It didn’t matter. It was a form of class warfare, not ethnic cleansing. Chat with any Russian from more or less middle class background, and they will probably recall that they had someone killed or sent into Gulag for the same reason.

          • The reason the civilized world hates Russia is because Russia is ruled by an ex-KGB cryptofascist authoritarian homophobic warmonger who has no ethics, morality, or other redeeming qualities – all of which filters into his administration and the terrible gov’t of Russia which brutalizes its own people and wantonly kills journalists.

            Fck Russia.

  8. Copied from the Daily Reckoning:
    In the first place, Russia has a long history of misery – most of it self-inflicted. One of the episodes, not entirely self-inflicted (though greatly self-aggravated), was in WWII. The country lost 25 million people in that ghastly war. It only survived because it was able to pull back across the steppes… wearing out its enemy in mud, cold, and extended lines of communications. Distance… space… and time are Mother Russia’s historic allies. So, it is understandable for Vladimir Putin to want to save at least the Eastern Ukraine, as a buffer against the next invasion from the West.Meanwhile, despite the assurances given by George Bush I and other American presidents and secretaries of state, Russia’s periphery states have been drawn towards NATO… Europe… and its potential enemiesAccording to press reports, the US meddled in the Ukraine, helping to unseat its democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, so that he might be replaced by someone more agreeable. Why shouldn’t Putin meddle back?In the second place, if it turns out that it really was Russian separatists…it is extremely unlikely that they were operating under orders from Moscow.Finally, compared to the reckless and murderous way the US and its allies throw their weight around, Russia has been remarkably restrained and civilised.  US vs Russia People in jail (per 100,000)716 vs 475 Drone attacks 4,700 vs 0 Number of wars since 1989 9 vs 11 Give the guy a break. Whether in terms of jailing people… or killing them… Mr. Putin is not the worst.Bill Bonner

    • Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it turns out that Putin had no idea that one of his local Generals had “lent” the SAM BUK missiles to the pro-Russian separatists.

      Also, it seems US intelligence now accepts it as a mistake rather than a deliberate targeting of a civilian plane:

      “US intelligence officials believe that pro-Russian rebels accidently shot down flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. They have no evidence that directly links Moscow to the tragedy.

      According to the officials, US satellite and other “technical” intelligence has confirmed that Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired from rebel-controlled territory. But it remains unclear who exactly pulled the trigger.
      “We don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank, and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality,” said one intelligence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
      The most likely explanation, according to the US officials, was that a poorly trained crew of rebels accidentally downed MH17. The crew appeared to have relied only on the radar system that’s part of the missile battery. ”

      So it would seem Putin did not pull the trigger and he did not give the order to pull the trigger.

      On the other hand, in the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed since 2000. Blair and Bush gave the orders to start those wars. NATO and Australia contributed troops and weapons to those wars.

      If the F1 show cannot take place in Sochi, then for consistency and to avoid hypocrisy, F1 should not be held in NATO countries or Australia.

      But F1 is big money, it is not controlled by politicians, FIA statutes say politics should not enter F1, and so greed wins and the show goes on and will go on. It will only get stopped if/when it damages the bottom line of the corporates OR if/when a fence gets damaged and the safety-car can’t be deployed to prevent injury to a driver or a marshall. Otherwise the safety, injury, deaths of anyone else won’t bother the F1 circus.

      • I have to chuckle at your witty assessment of F1, it’s most pertinent.

        But the bottom line is, if it was one of Putin’s generals, Putin now knows, and is playing dumb…

        He can offer him up as a good and proper sacrificial lamb, or suffer the finger of suspicion.

          • You mean the statements where they demand accountability and Justice for the victims and at least one local dutch leader keenly demands the deportation of Putin’s spoiled rich daughter as a form of collective, family punishment?

      • @PK, pretty sure neither US, Australia or UK using F1 for political cover. Almost certain Russia is.

        I would also be careful about conflating Afghanistan, which was complicit in the WTC attacks, and Iraq, which was most certainly not.

      • The inventory of all kinds of surface to air missile systems, from shoulder fired to big stationary systems, are very tightly controlled and accounted for in all armies that possess them. While a few shoulder fired systems can be easily stolen or sold by a corrupt officer, the transfer of a large system like Buk will never slip under the nose of a president, specially Putin.

  9. It does seem astonishing this kind of weapon system is apparently freely available on the market to buy even for non-state factions.

  10. TJ13, if Formula 1 should refuse to be used in political purposes, then the Russian GP must proceed as planned. After all, if they cancel Russian GP only now, then the act of canceling the GP is by itself a political statement.

    I do think that the F1 race in Russia should be canceled in order to avoid tarnishing the image of Formula 1. At this point we can only speculate that the Malaysian flight was shot down by pro-Russian rebels who may have used Russian missiles. But what if some scarier evidence turns up in the following months? It could be a disaster for F1’s public relations. Moreover, it’s clear that Putin will not be deterred by the economic sanctions. But losing F1 race could hurt his personal ego perhaps.

    • Aren’t F1 races all around the world political statements then?

      Bahrain and Abu Dhabi are hardly well attended races where there is a rich history of racing in their culture. They are merely displays of how powerful and wealthy their countries are.

      • ….I’ve shared my thoughts previously on Bahrain and Abu Dhabi – hardly anyone goes to the Bahrain GP – despite certain F1 writers attendance propaganda spreading – and in Abu Dhabi hardly anyone interested in Motorsport is there.

        This year there are 8,000 paddock club places available for Abu Dhabi – but the stands will not be full even if the race is a WDC decider…

        In Abu Dhabi Hotel prices rocket as much as 1000% – particularly the ones near the circuit – you can get accommodation about 90 mins away which is less expensive..

        I was talking to a teacher in Dubai this year – her whole school gets free tickets to the Abu Dhabi GP and she says there are many others who do also….

        Most sports are best developed bottom up – Bernie’s argument of taking F1 to cultures where there is little or no heritage is bollocks – cf India, Korea….

        Motorsport in the middle east is predominantly an ex-pat play thing…

        • ” Most sports are best developed bottom up – Bernie’s argument of taking F1 to cultures where there is little or no heritage is bollocks – cf India, Korea….”

          FOM suck, for sure, but here as well FIA MUST shoulder blame for not developing motorsports better.

      • The point is that the decision to go racing in Russia was made in a relatively apolitical time. To go to Russia was a business decision, not a political decision. However, Formula 1 race gets canceled now, instead of say one year ago, that’s certainly a political statement. On the other hand, if the race does proceed as planned, Bernie could always argue that it’s not about politics, since he already had a contract signed a long time ago.

        Anyways, I don’t think canceling the race in Russia is a bad decision. It does seem unfortunate for the Russian motorsports, as Russia has having a pretty nice nascent motorsport scene with several new tracks and domestic racing series in open wheels and touring cars.

  11. Please get your terminology right.
    The missile system used was the Buk missile system, a medium range surface to air system. It is a radar guided missile system not ballistic. And please, “loaded with complex rocket technology” is terrible hyperbole.

    • Sorry – does it work off 8 Duracells?

      It climbed 5 miles in 10 seconds – that’s a rocket where I come from – and rockets are usually laden with highly sophisticated technology….

      Thanks for your contribution – hopefully it will be as long again before you share your thoughts….

          • ….I know… was in a bad mood… and I wondered how it would feel 😉

            It felt good…

            Seeing as there are people here busting their asses to deliver more copy on F1 a day than Autosport, with their plethora of writers and editors – FOR FREE….. and we don’t sell GP Magazine either…

            Occasionally, the straw will break the back of the proverbial camel…. but I’m good good now

            We can also see the email addresses, so when “VillageIdiot dot something” is someones self proclaimed handle…. they can be treated with the appropriate disdain 🙂 🙂 🙂

            Guess I’ve been following @piersmorgan for too long – suffering fools gladly … and all that….

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