F1 says Azerbaijan fighting no threat to race

May 1 (GMM) F1’s governing body as well as supremo Bernie Ecclestone have backed Azerbaijan after declaring local fighting is no risk to the inaugural grand prix in Baku next month.

A month ago, the Azerbaijan government dismissed suggestions fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed local region, might jeopardise the safe running of forthcoming sports events.

“Azerbaijan always, to the highest standard, keeps athletes, tourists, fans and all participants safe at any events taking place in the country,” a sports ministry spokeswoman said in April.

And now, in Sochi for the Russian grand prix, a spokesperson for F1’s governing FIA was asked if the ongoing conflict, culminating in the reported death of two Karabakh servicemen this week, still threatened the grand prix.

“We are confident that the grand prix of Europe is not in danger,” the FIA spokesperson is quoted by Tass news agency.

“We (the FIA) follow the news, but racing is separate to politics. Additionally, we understand the situation has become less tense,” the person added.

At Sochi, F1 supremo Ecclestone was also asked about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and whether it might threaten Baku’s inaugural race.

“I’m sure it won’t,” he said. “We had a similar situation in Bahrain.

“We are not involved in it — we (F1) are not fighting with anybody.”

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