OCTOBER 21, 2023

No F1 race axe despite Azerbaijan war says FIA

Azerbaijan's grand prix is safe - despite the large-scale military offensive against the Armenian breakaway state of Artsakh in the last few days.

Nyck De Vries, Azerbaijan GP 2023
© Red Bull

In early 2022, Nikita Mazepin and his Russian sponsor were axed by Haas and the Russian GP at Sochi was scrapped by Formula 1's governing FIA following the outbreak of the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

But now, despite MSNBC calling the new situation involving Azerbaijan the greatest Armenian catastrophe since the genocide of Ottoman Armenians in 1915, Azerbaijan will not lose its Formula 1 race at Baku.

Not just that, Azerbaijan is still scheduled to hold the FIA's annual general assembly in December - where Max Verstappen will also collect his world champion trophy at the prize giving gala.

We must remain neutral, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is quoted by motorsport-total.com when asked about the Azerbaijan military situation. "This is what our charter says. I didn't come up with these rules, but they must be followed.

I understand what is happening between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and I hope it will end soon, he added. "But at the same time, we can name at least 20 countries that are currently involved in armed conflicts.

After all, who am I to say who is right and who is wrong? Who are you to judge this?

However, it does raise the question of why the FIA treated Russia so differently.

I myself was against it, Ben Sulayem insists when asked about the axed Russian GP. "But we called an extraordinary meeting and did what the participants wanted. Their voice had priority.

I was elected to implement the wishes of the representatives, he added.

On Friday, former Russian GP boss Alexey Titov said the race organisers Rosgonki are still trying to get upfront race fees for the axed 2022 race at Sochi refunded by F1.

We are very actively involved in this, but there are difficulties with providing legal assistance to Russian legal entities in unfriendly countries, he told Championat.

Also with money transfers, with currency, everything is not as simple as before. And there is also the completely obvious reluctance of that side to pay the money, despite the fact that they admit that there is a debt, Titov added.

Something tells me that if we go to court, the probability of victory is quite high, and the resonance will be greater, he said. But we hope that sooner or later they will come to their senses.