Dmitry Svishchev, chairman of the sports administration in Russia’s federal lower house, the State Duma, has taken aim at F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, after the Italian insisted that “no more racing” would ever happen in Russia.
Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the country’s relationship with the sport was growing rapidly.
The annual Russian Grand Prix was set for a bright future, with the race being moved from Sochi to Saint Petersburg from 2023.
However, as a result of the invasion, F1 dropped this year’s race in Sochi as well as any future race in St. Petersburg.
It is the sport’s way of showing support for Ukraine, with Russian drivers also being made to sign a document by the FIA condemning what is taking place in the nation.
Domenicali is adamant that the sport will “no longer negotiate” with the controversial nation, despite previously having the belief that anything in life is possible.
“I’ve always believed that you should never say never,” Domenicali told Sport Bild.
“But in this case, I can promise for sure – we will no longer negotiate with them.
“There will be no more racing in Russia.”
The Italian’s remarks have not gone down well, with Russian ex-F1 driver Vitaly Petrov insisting that the sport will return to the country, potentially as soon as next year.
Petrov also took aim at Domenicali, insisting that he won’t be around as CEO for long.
“Who is Domenicali?” he said.
“Today he is there, tomorrow he may not be. So be patient. They’ll be back, I think. Maybe even next year it will return.”
Svishchev is equally furious with the former Ferrari team principal as well as the sport, with the State Duma sports administration chairman believing that Domenicali’s words are irrelevant, due to his tenure not lasting forever.
“I want to note that Domenicali said ‘there will never be Formula 1 in Russia’. But first, before stating such things, he should have carefully looked at his contract,” Svishchev said.
“For how many years was it signed – two, three years? He is an employee himself, and he can only make such statements for the duration of his contract.”
Interestingly, Svishchev revealed that F1 are yet to repay the pre-payment made by the Russian GP organisers.
Whether it’s true or not, Svishchev has likened what the sport are doing to a “90s scam” and demands that the money be returned should no race take place.
“If it is cancelled, it would be nice to return the payments that were made by us,” said Svishchev.
“You don’t want to race? Then return the money that was paid for the forthcoming competition.
“It is very similar to a scam, a racket a la the 90s. It seems to me that it is not based on any sporting principle at all.”
Like Petrov, Svishchev is confident that the sport will return to Russia in the “near future”, with the sports administration chairman expecting relations to “normalise” very soon.
“I think that relations with us will normalise in the near future and Russia will return to the world sporting community,” he said.
“Domenicali should carefully consider his words, and we will consider the possibility of compensation for the financial and moral damage. Or at least I recommend that the leaders of our event do this.”