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Vatanen:Todt concerned over Sochi

Thursday 04-September-2014 11:02

Former FIA presidential candidate Ari Vatanen says FIA boss Jean Todt has "privately expressed concerns" about the inaugural Russian GP.

The Sochi circuit is due to host its maiden F1 race on October 12, but there have been calls on Bernie Ecclestone and other role players to cancel the event due to the ongoing political conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine.

Ecclestone, though, insists F1 will be in Russia next month, saying: "Our friends there are happy with the contract, we are happy. We will be there."

Vatanen, who is now a close ally of Todt despite losing out to him in the 2009 FIA presidential elections, says there are reservations about the grand prix.

"Of course Jean knows about my comments, we spoke about it. We are friends. I think he partly shares my view. It is true that his hands are tied. I can say things much more openly and freely than he can," Vatanen, who is currently the head of the Estonian motorsport federation, told The Telegraph.

"I'm not saying he agrees with everything that I say, but he has a much more reduced room for manoeuvre. He cannot do big moves one day to another. Any movement by people starting to talk about it and then it can spread and lead to action."

He added: "Do we support the regime who is masterminding this bloodshed? Or do we say this is not correct?

"It would send a message of acceptance if we went to Russia. It would say we condone, effectively, maybe not explicitly, but by our actions we condone what is going on because it is used in propaganda.

"It is often said that Formula One should not mix politics and sport, but the Russian regime is already mixing politics and sport in a blatant way, so we have to respond. It is for Bernie and the owners to cancel the race.

"It is an unprecedented situation since the Second World War, and we have to ask ourselves how history will remember us and what we did or did not do."

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