Those of you who keep up to speed in the world of athletics – if you see what I mean – will recognise that Haas is a victim this year of the sanctions imposed on Russia by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for the country’s manipulation of data during investigations into doping allegations against its athletes.
This means that Russia cannot send a team to the Olympic Games (if they happen) in 2021 in Tokyo nor to the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022. It cannot compete officially in any World Championship sporting event until the end of 2022. The ban was originally for four years, but the Russians appealed and this went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). This body reduced the ban, but upheld it for two years. This has impacted on the Formula 1 world because the FIA is a signatory of the WADA code – and has been since 2010. Thus Russian drivers have to compete as “neutral athletes” and the country’s flags cannot be displayed on the cars, although the athletes clothing/car livery can feature the national colours. The WADA ruling should also mean that “Russian Government officials/representatives may not be appointed to sit and may not sit as members of the boards or committees or any other bodies of any Code Signatory”, which should mean that General Victor Kiryanov can no longer sit as a member of the FIA World Motor Sport Council, if he remains the managing director of Rostec, a Russian state-owned company. The ruling also states that officials/representatives may not attend World Championships organized or sanctioned by any signatory.
The playing of the Russian national anthem is also not allowed if a Russian athlete wins (Not much likelihood of that in F1…) and an alternative tune (Swan Lake or something) should be played instead, while a white flag (presumably) is hoisted on high. The anthem is the one thing I will miss, although I think the Russians deserve the punishment, because the Russian national anthem is by far the best in the world and stirs parts of me that other national anthems simply do not reach. Perhaps to cheer me up, they might consider playing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau if Nikita does miraculously win a race this year. Why? Because the Welsh anthem, which we call “Land of My Fathers” is about the only one that gets close. They both leave the plodding British national anthem a long way behind.
Still, there is some hope on Sunday afternoons as while God Save the Queen will no doubt play a fair bit for Sir Lewis, we have the chance at least to listen to Germany’s splendid anthem for the winning Constructor. I am a fan of Joseph Haydn’s “Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser”, also known as “Austria” in hymnbooks. This was once the Austrian national anthem before the German’s purloined it to become “The Deutschlandlied”.
Anyway, to get back to Russia, it all rather begs the question what the Russian Grand Prix will be called this year as under the WADA rules this would need to be changed to the Sochi Grand Prix or perhaps the Grand Prix of Krasnodar Krai, although President Vlad might conclude that the Putin Grand Prix would sound rather cool, although one needs to be careful with that name when French commentators get involved, as Putin and putain can be confused. Putain is a very rude word in French (and has several different meanings). This, by the way, can also lead to problems when ordering Quebec’s famous poutines, which are a mess of French fries and cheese, with gravy on top. For those of a linguistic and culinary bent, the word is also the root for “puttanesca”, which means hooker (not in the rugby sense) and is a recipe developed, so they say, because the ladies of the night in Naples would go home and put everything in the fridge into their late night meal, thus creating pasta alla puttanesca…
In addition to being Russian at an unfortunate time, Mazepin has also made his life rather difficult in recent months because of a video posted of his hands wandering in places where some think they should not have wandered in public. The fact that the woman in question posted comments suggesting that it was all just fun and games was ignored by the critics and some seem to think that Mazepin is a sort of anti-Christ. The truth is that he’s just a rather silly boy, who did things that he did not seem to understand might upset the delicate sensitivities of lots of social media-aged crusader types, who have obviously never made mistakes in their perfect and pure lives. The lesson has been learned I am sure. He would be rather dim if it hadn’t.
In the meantime, because we won’t hear it in F1 in 2021 or 2022, here is the wonderful uplifting Russian national anthem, sung by the Alexandrov Ensemble. Sadly, many of them (64 in total) died on Christmas Day 2016 when the plane they were travelling on crashed into the Black Sea, shortly after taking off from Sochi.