F1 teams feeling impact of Ukraine crisis
MONTMELO, Spain (AP) — The political crisis in the Ukraine is having an economic impact on Formula One teams like Toro Rosso and Sauber, who said Friday they hope the inaugural Russia Grand Prix isn’t canceled.
The Russia GP is set to be held on Oct. 12 in Sochi, the host city for this year’s Winter Olympics. But the sanctions imposed by western nations on Russia for its involvement in the escalating conflict in Ukraine have led to doubts about the upcoming race.
“I hope they sort out all the troubles they are currently having and we can go because the Russian market is quite important for us,” said Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost, who has Russian driver Daniil Kvyat on his team. “The political situation has affected our negotiations with companies in Russia because no one knows which way things will go. I just hope it will end in a positive way, that we go to Sochi as it is very important.”
Sauber counterpart Monisha Kaltenborn, meanwhile, said several sponsorship deals with Russian firms have been put on hold.
“We’ve definitely seen an effect because a lot of talks, which were advanced, have virtually come to a standstill,” Kaltenborn said. “People are waiting and seeing what is going to happen. Nobody really knows what the entire impact will be because the sanctions which have now been imposed are biting some firms. We simply have to wait. There is nothing we can do about it, so we really hope the situation is clarified soon and things can be sorted out.”
F1 has come under criticism for maintaining its race in Bahrain despite the political violence there, and organizers could come under pressure now with two races being held in countries in conflict areas.
Superbikes have already canceled a race scheduled to be held in Moscow in September.
Several F1 teams, including Force India, Williams and Marussia, said Friday they would seek guidance from their home governments on whether to attend the race in Russia, but that the final decision rested with F1 and racing’s governing body, FIA.
“Criticisms were directed toward the teams and the organization in going to Bahrain,” said Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley. “But we were clearly in line, and in accordance with, British government guidelines. But unless the British government advise otherwise ... we are obliged to go. We are contracted to go.”