Problem for Russian GP as application deadline passes (2nd Update)

UPDATE #2 (GMM) A key figure of next year's inaugural Russian grand prix has played down suggestions the Sochi race might never take place.

The latest reports suggest a dispute between the Russian automobile federation and race organizers Omega has delayed the official application to the FIA beyond its July deadline.

But Oleg Zabara, Omega's deputy general director, told Russia's Championat: "I cannot understand why there would be doubt.

"In 2010, in the presence of Vladimir Putin, the agreement was signed and work (on the circuit) has gone according to the plan.

"Maybe all this (uncertainty) is due to the fact that not everything is running smoothly with New Jersey.

"No, we're fine — everything is according to plan."

Indeed, while the rest of the 2014 calendar is still the subject of speculation, Sochi already has its provisional race date — October 19.

And more news could be in the pipeline. Zabara met with Bernie Ecclestone at the Hungaroring last weekend, and also present was Igor Mazepa, of the new Russian GP2 team Russian Time.

Mazepa admitted that Russian Time is working closely with Williams.

"Now we're going to strengthen our relationship," he said.

"We are already talking to Claire Williams about the possibility of a Russian driver coming, if there is a vacancy for 2014 due to one of the current drivers going to another team."

Williams' current drivers are Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado.

07/31/13 Red tape "is snarling up the application process for Russia’s first Formula One Grand Prix in Sochi in 2014, but the country still has time to make it onto next year’s calendar," according to R-SPORT. Although "bureaucratic problems leave a question mark hanging over the event with a little over 14 months until lights-out," motorsports governing body FIA said that "they may not prove fatal to the race’s future." A FIA spokesperson said, "The calendar is approved at the end of September."

The spokesperson "refused to comment on the case of the Russian Grand Prix specifically, citing confidentiality, but confirmed that a failure to apply more than a year in advance would not necessarily damage an event’s chances of being admitted."

The issue at hand "is a spat between the Russian Automobile Federation and the race promoter Omega Center, which is also building the 5.9km track around the coastal Olympic Park." The RAF "is refusing to file a race application with the FIA until Omega, which is tied to the Krasnodar region government, agrees to bear the cost of training the 700-800 personnel required to staff the race such as marshals and security." R-Sport

07/31/13 (GMM) Once feared it could swell to an unprecedented 22 grands prix, the size of next year's F1 calendar now appears unclear.

New Jersey is officially set to host its first race next year, but Niki Lauda thinks Bernie Ecclestone has already written off his dream of a race amid the Manhattan skyline.

India has also fallen by the wayside for 2014, and reports indicate Korea could go too, as Austria and Russia prepare to come in.

Actually, there have long been questions about the inaugural Russian grand prix, taking place on a circuit comprising the same infrastructure for Sochi's winter Olympics next year.

Rumors of conflict within the organizing bodies have been swirling for weeks and months, and it seems finally to have thrown a spanner in the works.

The official application to host next year's race must be lodged with the FIA by the corresponding motor racing federation — in this case the Russian Automobile Federation (RAF).

But the conflict with the Russian race organizer Omega means the RAF is refusing to lodge the application to the FIA, despite a July 31 deadline.

A spokeswoman for the FIA would not comment specifically on the reported Russian problem, telling Ria Novosti news agency: "The calendar is approved at the end of September."

There are no such problems in Hungary, whose contract to host an annual race at the Hungaroring has been extended through 2021.

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