MONACO; Formula One driver Jules Bianchi during the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix. Photo: Stephane Mantey/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports

Formula One needs to cancel Russian Grand Prix

Why the hell is Formula One going ahead with the Russian Grand Prix in light of the shoot down of MH 17? In a word, money. While I don’t believe that Formula One should withhold their services from the Sochi International Street Circuit as a form of punishment for terrorizing its gay population and potential involvement in shooting down a civilian airliner, I don’t understand how Formula One could guarantee the safety of its fans and competitors in light of the downing of flight MH 17 that cost 295 people their lives. Unfortunately news reports are starting to surface that F-1 plans on going ahead with the Russian Grand Prix. Google tells me that Sochi is a Black Sea coastal town less than 300 miles from the contested region of the Ukraine, and only 355 miles from where MH 17 went down. Given the escalating tensions in that area it seems impossible to me to predict what conditions will be like in October when the race is set to take place. Formula One has cancelled races before, notably the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2011 and 2012 as a result of human rights protests. With the Russian Grand Prix Formula One has is going to a country with safety risks and a track record of human rights violation. Russia is violently trying to suppress its gay population, so it should be a no-brainer that F-1 should pass on the Sochi circuit this year for human rights violations alone. But, that’s not happening, and money is probably the reason why. The situation in Bahrain wasn’t that different than what’s happening in Russia; an oppressed group of people were demanding for more rights. The big difference was that there wasn’t a smoldering territorial conflict less than 500 miles away that’s already claimed 295 innocent lives. Russia has invested in Formula One big time. Marussia Motors owns Marussia F1 outright. Russian investors own undisclosed stakes in Sauber F1 Team and Lotus F1. Formula One claims that they are above politics, and I’m fine with that, the sport has been almost respectably consistent on that point for decades, almost. They’ve also been a big proponent of safety, and it’s hard to argue that going to Sochi is safe when commercial aviation is giving its neighboring country a wide berth. The Russian Grand Prix will be 500 miles from an ongoing, and potentially growing conflict. Just how close to a war zone is too close for Formula One? I’m not sure, but there’s correlation between money and risk, and apparently Russia’s money is enough to overcome the risk involved, for now.

Tags: Formula One Russian Grand Prix Flight MH 17

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