Turkish Grand Prix organisers let off
Today came the news that the organisers of the Turkish Grand Prix have been fined a record $5M for breaking the sports regulations in using the podium ceremony to make a political point. I have to admit that it passed me by at the time, but the winner's trophy was awarded to Filipe Massa by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, the controversy being that he was introduced as the president of the state of Turkish Northern Cyprus. With Cyprus having been divided since Turkey invaded it in 1974 and with neither the UN or any other country recognising Northern Cyprus as a state, this is a very delicate matter. You can read more about Cyprus in this BBC article. The Greek Cypriots were quick to put in a complaint to the FIA who then hauled the organisers before the World Motorsport Council.
Turkey risked losing its place on the Formula 1 callendar as a result of the controversial podium ceremony - the FIA represents the national motorsport bodies of 125 and must therefore insist on political neutrality at all events. What is interesting to me is that as serious a matter as this was, almost everyone asked by the media to comment on the possibility of sanctions thought that the Turkish Grand Prix would be reprieved. You can see the weasel words of many a team owner in this Autosport.com article.
It's easy to see why: they are only two years into a long deal to host the race; a huge amount of money was invested in building the Istanbul circuit and the circuit itself is rapidly becoming the second favourite (after Spa) with both drivers and television viewers. Even so, to say that the organisers can get away with any antics they like just because their Grand Prix is important commercially and popular with fans would set a dangerous prescedent. As such, I think the $5M fine, despite its record status, is the least sanction the FIA could apply.