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Formula One: Russian GP will go ahead, says Ecclestone

Formula One ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone on Friday (Aug 22) said he had no doubt that this year's controversial inaugural Russian Grand Prix in Sochi will go ahead as planned in early October. 

SPA: Formula One ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone on Friday (Aug 22) said he had no doubt that this year's controversial inaugural Russian Grand Prix in Sochi will go ahead as planned in early October. Speaking to reporters in the paddock at Belgian Grand Prix practice, the 83-year-old Briton said he and Formula One would respect their contract with the promoters.

"We have a contract," he said. "Our friends there are happy with the contract, we are happy. We will be there. If people have arguments with Russia, maybe they have, but we haven't got any."

Earlier this week, the International Motoring Federation (FIA) race director Charlie Whiting gave the Sochi Autodrome circuit the green light to stage the race from October 10-12. This came despite calls for F1 to boycott Russia because of the conflict in Crimea between pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine. Sanctions were imposed against Russia by Western allies, with Russia retaliating by banning food imports.

Politicians have suggested that F1 makes a stand against Russia, but the sport has maintained it does not become involved with politics.

Ecclestone also said that his management of the sport had not changed this year despite the Munich court case in which he was involved, before it was settled. Proceedings against Ecclestone on allegations of bribery relating to a US$44-million (S$55 million) payment to former banker Gerhard Gribkowsky were called off last week after he agreed to pay a US$100 million settlement.

He said: "Nothing ever changed. It was a couple of days I wasn't in the office - that was all. But it is better because I had to do things at the weekend to catch up with what I missed."

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