Ecclestone confirms Russian GP will happen

Bernie Ecclestone with Vladimir Putin

Bernie Ecclestone with Vladimir Putin

Formula 1 has no argument with Russia and the country’s debut grand prix will go ahead as planned in October despite the crisis in Ukraine, Bernie Ecclestone said on the first day of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

“We have a contract. Our friends there, they are happy with the contract so we’ll be there,” the sport’s 83-year-old commercial supremo told Reuters in the Belgian Grand Prix paddock.

“If people have got arguments with Russia, maybe they have (issues). I don’t know. We haven’t got any.”

Sochi, the Black Sea resort which hosted the Winter Olympics in February, is due to stage the first Russian Grand Prix on October 12.

The governing FIA has already given the circuit its seal of approval but the race, a showcase event for Russian president Vladimir Putin, has been a target for critics since the country’s annexation of Crimea and last month’s downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine.

Western nations have imposed sanctions against Russia for what the United States and European Union say is Moscow’s backing for separatist rebels in east Ukraine.

Britain’s deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said last month that the Russian race should not go ahead. (Reuters)