When Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, Formula 1 made the correct decision to cancel this year’s grand prix at the Sochi Autodrome on the Black Sea. Now, the sport’s boss has said it has no plans to return to racing in the country, including shelving its race in St Petersburg in 2023.
In March, Formula 1 announced that this year’s Russian Grand Prix would not go ahead as planned. The sport’s management said that it was “impossible” to host the event at the former Sochi Winter Olympic Park following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
That race, which was due to take place next month, would have been the sport’s final visit to Sochi before it moved to a street circuit in St Petersburg in 2023. But now, Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali has said that there will be “no more racing in Russia.”
According to Reuters, Domenicali has closed the door on the sport ever returning to Russia. The site reports that he told Sport Bild magazine that “there will be no more racing in Russia.” Reuters reports:
“‘I’ve always believed that you should never say never,’ Domenicali told Sport Bild magazine, per GrandPrix.com. ‘But in this case, I can promise for sure — we will no longer negotiate with them’.”
The move is undoubtedly the right one, especially as Russia continues to bombard cities across Ukraine. It also helps F1 as it looks to cut current circuits from the calendar to make space for new locations, such as South Africa and Las Vegas.
But the move has upset race promoters in Russia. According to Reuters:
“Alexey Titov, the CEO of Russian GP promoter ANO Rosgonki, said he expects F1 to refund payments made following the cancellation of this year’s race. ‘This debt exists, it is confirmed and our position on it is unchanged,’ Titov told Russian news agency Tass. ‘We expect a refund regardless of the current position of Formula One Management in relation to holding races in the Russian Federation’.”
Titov also warned that international sport is getting far too political, which was a similar stance taken by ex-F1 racer Nikita Mazepin when he was dropped by the Haas team following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While a Russian grand prix did take place in St Petersburg in 1913, its spot on the Formula 1 world championship calendar only came in 2014. Then, the event was hosted at the former Winter Olympic park in Sochi for the first time.
It has been held at that same venue every year since, with Mercedes winning each grand prix held at the site.