JAT GP ARCHIVE – West vs Moscow and the ethics of racing in Russia



As the Winter Olympic venues in Sochi prepare for the third event this year and the current crisis between Moscow and Kiev is it right to be racing in the country. But there are other issues like gay rights, rebels in Eastern Ukraine and shooting down of MH17 in July.

What’s behind the crisis?

Well the crisis began when former Ukrainian pedant Viktor Yanukovych signed a deal for closer ties with Moscow in December 2013. This divided the country with the Western Ukraine wanting ties with Europe and Eastern Ukraine wanting closer ties with Russia. Then a referendum in Crimea that the west called illegal took place in March lead to the annexation. This lead to sanctions by the EU, United States and Canada and plus then the end of the G8.


Another part of the crisis is the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines fight MH17 months after the disappearance of MH370 before the Malaysia Grand Prix. Some has called on the race to be cancelled following the alleged involvement of pro-Russian rebels. British MPs called for the race to be cancelled “I think that Formula One should reflect the global outrage” said Conservative MP David Davis.

Gay rights

Last year Russia introduced a law banning gay profaned to Under 18’s causing a riff between the west over the ban. Berine Ecclestone himself got backlash after he said “completely agrees” with Putin’s policy towards homosexuals.  This was condemned by gay rights groups.

F1 policy

Ecclestone for decades has said formula one has nothing to do with the country policy this has run from South Africa’s apartied era thought to the crisis in the Middle East in 2011 to date.

The teams fear speaking against Ecclestone but he called the 2012 a joke. He stands by the race telling the BBC in August “I don’t know what a race in Sochi’s got to do with anything. I mean, we don’t get involved in politics or religion. I don’t know what the problem is with people there.”

BBC Sports Editor, Dan Roan asked somebody the other day ‘decided who shot that plane down?’ which he replied nobody seems to know do they, so what’s the link [with Russia]?

Where does this leave F1?

All the teams and drivers are contracted to take part in every race so are drivers. It’s too late now to cancel the race because equipment is already on its way to Sochi. But the debate around what Russia has done in Ukraine will rumble on with them arguing whether it is right. Formula One boss stands by the race saying “If I’m in the business of producing knives and somebody buys a knife and stabs somebody, it’s a bit difficult to say that because I produced the knife, I’m guilty.

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