Russia Fuming As Liberty Block F1 Coverage

2020 Russian Grand Prix
2020 Russian Grand Prix

Formula 1 is a long way from healing its broken relationship with Russia, according to the former promoter of the defunct race at Sochi.

The sport suddenly and totally severed all links with the country – including the driver Nikita Mazepin, his sponsor Uralkali, and the Russian GP – at the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict early in 2022.

The race at Sochi was promoted by Rosgonki, headed by Alexey Titov – now in charge of another world-class Russian circuit called Igora Drive.

He told the Russian portal Championat that F1’s relationship with Russia is so broken that fans in the country cannot even access the official F1 website.

“Liberty (Media) is a leftist organisation,” said Titov, “so it operates according to the American leftist politics that pervade half the United States.

“Of course, I will send an appeal, but given our common tense relationship, I doubt that there will be any result,” he said when asked about F1’s blocking of Russian internet providers.

Titov also says Formula 1 has declined even to return the upfront race promotion fee for the 2022 Russian GP, which never took place.

“Nothing has changed,” he revealed. “Naturally, we are fighting, taking certain actions, working with lawyers. But so far it’s like Andrei Leonidovich Kostin said – ‘they screwed it up!’

“Their (F1’s) position is that they would be happy to return it, but we are all under sanctions, transfers are closed, so you have to wait.”

When Formula 1 does eventually return the 2022 race fee, Titov says it should come with accumulated interest. “Of course,” he said. “How else would you do it?

“This money could be working for our benefit.”

While the situation is at stalemate, Titov said it would be pointless to try to kick off new negotiations to bring Formula 1 back to Russia – or open talks with Liberty’s new acquisition, MotoGP.

“At a commercial level, I don’t see the point in such dialogues now,” he said. “With Formula 1, we are where we were before – they left, slamming the door, keeping the money.

“Considering that Dorna recently sold to Liberty, I highly doubt that the position on MotoGP and World Superbike will suddenly become pro-Russian,” Titov added.

He said one possibility would be for the series’ governing bodies to get involved.

“Any warming of relations should be supported by the federations,” said Titov. “No matter how much two commercial organisations would like to agree to stage a race in Russia, any official championship is under the control of the FIA or FIM.

“Until a solution is found at this sports-political level, all commercial agreements are meaningless, so we need to talk at a higher level.

“But in general, they left on their own. Well, let them come back to us themselves. This is my personal opinion, but it’s how I see it.”

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