F1: Iranian Grand Prix? Not Going to Happen

The Vice President of Iran, Masoud Soltanifar.

The Formula 1 calendar is composed of regional events throughout the world. Southeast Asia, north and South America, Europe and the Middle East are the battlegrounds for F1 competition.

Now, Bernie Eccelstone and the FIA are seeking to extend the calendar. They have already positioned the Mexican Grand Prix near the end of the 2015 season. The European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan along with the German Grand Prix will return in the 2016 season.

Talk of a second event in the United States, extending the North American leg of the season has been a goal of both the FIA and Eccelstone for several years. Now comes more talk of another Middle Eastern country wanting to add themselves to the calendar. Iran.

The theocratically controlled country of Iran has recently presented itself to be the best place for such a consideration. This isn’t Iran’s first overture to welcoming motorsports into the country. Some time ago, a track was proposed to be built in Parand City, just 34 miles southwest of Tehran.

The Vice President of Iran, Masoud Soltanifar, recently visited the Iranian occupied Qeshm Island. Masoud explained the sport has a “great future” in his country. “Iran has so many young people with an increasing tendency for driving” he adds. Qeshm island is located off Iran’s Southeast coast, being described as the largest island in the Persian Gulf.

What Soltanifar is saying to be the best place for a circuit is, quite honestly, one of the worst travel destinations in the Middle East. Rocky coastlines and mountain terrain make up the island where small villages as well as towns live duty free. Oh, and there is a military base that also shares the island.

Iran continues to attempt to legitimize itself on the world stage, so far to no avail. It’s a very thin veil that Iran has cast upon the sensibilities of the modern world.

Qeshm Island, the proposed F1 site.
Qeshm Island, the proposed F1 site.

The audacious Soltanifar has touted it to be one of the best locations for a Formula 1 Grand Prix. “It has potential to become one of the world’s most beautiful F1 destination.” What are the chances of an Iranian Grand Prix?

Slim to none at all.

In the Vice President’s own words, he states how a racing event in Iran would bring tourism and help their nation’s image. I can agree somewhat with that part, but not one person wants to visit a country that is considered a state sponsor of terrorism by most of the world, Middle Eastern countries included.

Though the track would be ostensibly built on an island away from most bordering countries, it wouldn’t stop “visitors” from Iran’s next door neighbors of Afghanistan and Pakistan. This could be a stretch, but where will the terrorist organization of ISIS or Hamas be in the next five years? The process of building an FIA sanctioned track would take at least five years.

Not only is international terrorism a threat to a global event like a Formula 1 race, it’s a slap in the face of reasonable people watching the political and global aspirations of Iran. It does itself no favors to try and follow the Russians lead of deception.

Iran itself has been wanting nuclear weapons for years now. They have flagrantly declared to use nuclear force to eliminate Israel. Israel’s allies extend to countries who host Grand Prix. Iran would be well served to clean up it’s political image before taking on international motorsports. Looking at recent news, Iranian boats forced a Marshall Island’s (A U.S.east protectorate) ship to port after firing numerous shots at the boat’s bow, granted they were owed money from the companies owners, but the boat is still being held by the Iranian government.

It’s my belief that another Middle East race would fit well into the Formula 1 calendar. At the moment only two races are being held in the desert, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. What’s fascinating is the nation of Bahrain has veto power over another Grand Prix in the Middle East if a third race is introduced. But let’s be honest, Iran?

Qatar would be the better bet. Qatar has been pushing for some time to host an F1 race at the Losail International Circuit. Qatar is known for hosting the first MotoGP race of the season and a number of rally events.

Iran needs to clean up its act before building an FIA approved circuit. Sure, it sounds appealing from their point of view, but how can a nation with so many conflicting foreign affairs handle such a diverse sport?

What happens when the country decides to go all in and threaten a country that is part of the championship? It wouldn’t make sense to have a race with little hospitality outside of the event since Iran is the nucleus of the Middle East crisis.

Unless Eccelstone and the FIA are completely devoid of a sense of humanity, it isn’t going to happen.


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