Azerbaijan could replace Russia on 2014 calendar (Update) UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' Azerbaijan on Wednesday denied reports it could step in to replace this year's endangered Russian grand prix.
Earlier, Germany's Welt newspaper said the oil-rich former Soviet state was ready to step in, should the escalating Crimean crisis force the cancellation of the scheduled inaugural Russian grand prix later this year.
First, the Russian promoter denied the Sochi race is even in doubt.
"In light of a number of reports, I can declare that a postponement or cancellation of the Russian grand prix is not discussed," Sergey Vorobyev told Championat.
"We are actively preparing for the October 12, 2014 event," he insisted.
Vorobyev said construction of the circuit remains on schedule, and tickets will go on sale later in May.
"We are working closely with the Formula One Management group of companies, the FIA and foreign consultants," he added. "Regular inspections confirm the effectiveness of our work.
"The Russian grand prix will be held on October 12."
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Azerbaijan's sports minister Azad Rahimov denied Welt's claim that a city street race in the capital Baku is ready to replace Russia.
"A grand prix will take place in Azerbaijan in 2015," the spokesman told Russia's Championat. "Can it be in 2014? No, only in 2015."05/07/14
(GMM) Azerbaijan could be set to make its debut on the F1 calendar much earlier than first expected.
We reported last week that plans are racing ahead for a street race in the oil-rich former Soviet state's capital Baku.
Bernie Ecclestone had said 2016 was the most likely race date, even though Azerbaijan officials "are talking about 2015".
"We have signed the deal with Bernie Ecclestone and will announce it officially with an event in Baku shortly," sports minister Azad Rahimov confirmed.
The Associated Press claims the contract is actually for a debut race in 2015, not 2016.
"Formula one will be held in Baku in autumn 2015," sports ministry spokeswoman Samaya Mammadova confirmed, revealing that a contract signing ceremony was being planned for later in May.
Now, Germany's Welt newspaper has raised the prospect of a race in Baku this year -- 2014.
It would reportedly fill a potential three-week gap between the Japanese and US races later this year, due to the increasing uncertainty now surrounding the scheduled inaugural running of the Russian grand prix.
The Crimean crisis, and the growing threat of war between Russia and Ukraine and escalating western sanctions, have cast major doubt on the formula one race in Sochi.
Also in doubt is the Russian round of this year's German touring car series, scheduled to take place in July at the Moscow Raceway.
When asked if DTM will be going to Russia in 2014, series organizer Hans-Werner Aufrecht answered: "As of today (yes)."
The DTM organization ITR said: "As the organizer, we are naturally watching the current developments very closely, aware that our race at the Moscow Raceway is dependent on the political situation."
ITR admitted that in the case of a cancellation, "We would have an alternative, as anything else would be irresponsible and unprofessional."
Die Welt claimed that F1's potential replacement for Sochi has "already been established" -- Azerbaijan.