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Will MH17 atrocity force F1 to think again?

NEWS STORY
21/07/2014

As the west ponders how to deal with the atrocity of Flight MH17, once again F1 will find itself in the political spotlight.

For a sport that has seemingly taken up permanent residency on the fence, so to speak, as the crisis that follows last Thursday's atrocity unfolds, some within the paddock will be getting extremely jittery. For amidst talk of sanctions against Russia, teams and their sponsors are sure to be watching the situation anxiously, not least those outfits with backing from the Motherland.

Tarnished by its dithering over the original handling of the situation in Bahrain, Formula One will not want a repeat yet currently the Malaysia Airlines atrocity has barely been recognised by the sport.

Having worked so hard to get Russia on board, the last thing that Bernie Ecclestone will want is to see the October event at Sochi put in jeopardy but the fact is that feelings are running high. Not only has Ecclestone worked hard, like The Winter Olympics, Russian premiere Vladimir Putin sees the Grand Prix as another jewel in his crown.

Over the weekend, only Caterham publicly appeared to acknowledge the tragedy, both cars sporting the now customary messages of sympathy.

Contacted by Pitpass early on Sunday morning, an FIA source was unable to confirm that a minute's silence would be held before the race in tribute to the victims. Needless to say such an official mark of respect was not forthcoming.

However, just four months earlier, ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, such a ceremony was held in honour of the disappearance of Flight MH370. How one tragedy could merit official recognition and the other not - when both related to the same airline - should be left to the reader to ponder.

By not officially recognising the atrocity with a minute's silence, at the very least, the sport has sent out a signal and it is a message that will eventually be picked up on and used by various factions.

To further confuse matters, whilst the powers-that-be, and we are assuming this was down to Bernie Ecclestone, were unwilling to pay an official tribute to the victims, it was noticeable that the official Formula One World Championship flag at the circuit flew at half-mast (pictured) over the weekend.

No matter how hard the sport might try to bury its head in the sand, no matter how hard the inhabitants of Planet Paddock might think that there's is the only reality, sooner or later Formula One is going to have to realise that it exists in the real world.

Whilst, in recent years, there has been outrage at various countries the 'F1 Circus' has visited, most notably China and Turkey, the sport has worked hard to keep out of the political spotlight. Indeed, one of the last times, teams did actually climb down off of the fence was in 1985 when, under intense pressure, Ligier and Renault boycotted the South African Grand Prix in protest at Apartheid. A number of individual drivers, including Niki Lauda and Nigel Mansell, were against taking part in the event but were bound by their contracts.

Chris Balfe

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by hez, 24/07/2014 21:52

"I feel that the sponsors should force a boycott of the Sochi race and that F1 fans should not attend, assist with the boycott, etc I have found that there is a boycott being formed now, someone has assembled a list of F1 sponsors and is contacting them directly to ask their position, based on their response or lack thereof, they are all being listed on the web and being sent to the FIA for their reaction and all of this is being sent to the media on a weekly basis to drum up support for the boycott of the Sochi race this year."

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2. Posted by DUX, 22/07/2014 2:35

"It has nothing to do with F1, you are the one making it political. Anyway Putin is one of Europe's last great leaders he's a beacon of hope for all other European countries. "

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3. Posted by ape, 21/07/2014 21:21

"Sport is used for political propaganda .. remember 1936 Germany , we never learn.
I would say Europe , North America , Australia and Japan is enough. We have now too many races anyway , Grand Prix are losing the exclusivity."

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4. Posted by MrShadow, 21/07/2014 20:53

"I sincerey hope Bernie manages to keep F1 oput of politics. And FYI, I am Dutch."

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5. Posted by White Lightning, 21/07/2014 19:44

"It took them long enough to expunge Apartheid South Africa from the calendar and we're quite consistently told how wonderful those sweet and progressive race organisers in China, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi are, so.....I'd doubt it."

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6. Posted by jo6pac, 21/07/2014 14:56

"As Amerikan I have no problem with the race in Russia at lest Putin is elected unlike middleast countries and china were there are F-1 races. Then again we still don't know who did this it's all rumors at this time."

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7. Posted by Redneckracer, 21/07/2014 13:54

"I said it once and I'll say it again, FIA and everyone in F1 should not support Putin and his GP. I for one will not watch it and going ahead with the race you are in a way supporting Putin and all he stands for.

"

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