Formula 1, drivers, teams watching Ukraine-Russia developments
Formula One (F1) driver, Sebastien Vettel, said he will not attend the Russian GP if it pushes through this year. The Russian GP is set to take place on September 25 at the Sochi Autodrom.
“My own opinion is I should not go, I will not go,” he said. “I think it’s wrong to race in that country. I’m sorry for the people, innocent people who are losing their lives, getting killed for stupid reasons under a very strange and mad leadership.”
The four-time world champion and Aston Martin F1 driver has urged Formula One’s management to abandon this season’s scheduled race in Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Vettel has long been outspoken on issues of social and human rights and was unequivocal in his condemnation of Russia’s invasion and in his conviction that he would not race there.
Formula One’s organizers said they are “closely watching the very fluid developments” in Ukraine. However, they have yet to make a decision on whether to push through with September’s scheduled Russian Grand Prix. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the world motorsport governing body which also oversees F1, has yet to issue any comment on the race in Russia. The entire F1 field is currently testing in Barcelona this week.
Other prominent personalities in Formula One have also voiced their opinion on recent developments.
“When a country is at war it’s not correct to race there, that’s for sure,” said reigning world champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull F1.
American team, Haas, has also said it would run an all-white livery on the final day of the F1 testing, happening this week in Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya. The team typically has its title sponsor, Uralkali’s name and logo across its cars, having adopted the company’s red, white and blue Russian flag colors as its own.
Uralkali is a Russian chemical company. One of the team’s drivers is Russian national, Nikita Mazepin, son of Dmitry Mazepin, a close associate of Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
Despite the abrupt change, the team only released a short statement: “No further comment will be made at this time regarding team partner agreements.”
The team principals, F1 and the FIA have convened a meeting to discuss how the sport should react.
Russia’s invaded neighboring Ukraine, claiming it is conducting a military operation to protect separatists in Ukrainian territory. The action followed weeks of escalating tensions in the region.