Vettel Vows Not to Race in F1 Russian Grand Prix After Ukraine Invasion

Current drivers’ champion Max Verstappen added it’s “not correct” to race in a country that’s at war.

byHazel Southwell|
F1 photo

Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen have said it would be wrong for the Russian Grand Prix to go ahead, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of today. Formula 1 has currently said that it is "closely watching the very fluid developments" with regards to the war but has not indicated it's considering a cancellation.

Yesterday Russian driver and all-around heel Nikita Mazepin said that despite sanctions applied to Russia by the U.S., E.U. and U.K., following the movement of troops into Donbas, F1 had indicated to him that the race would still go ahead. Overnight, as the situation developed, there seems to have been a significant shift including Russian-backed Haas team boss Günther Steiner pulling out of a scheduled team principal press conference during the lunch break in testing today. 

During the drivers' conference, Sebastian Vettel was asked, as a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association—a sort of union for F1 drivers—what his opinion was on the issue. He said, “As GPDA we haven’t spoken on the subject so I can’t speak on behalf of GPDA but in my personal opinion, obviously I woke up to this morning’s news shocked. I don’t know, I think it’s horrible to see what is happening. Obviously, if you look at the calendar, we have a race scheduled in Russia.

“For myself, my own opinion is I should not go, I will not go. I think it’s wrong to race in that country. I’m sorry for the innocent people that are losing their lives, getting killed for stupid reasons. A very, very strange and mad leadership.

“I’m sure there’s something we will talk about but as I said on behalf of the GPDA we haven’t come together yet," Vettel added. "But personally I’m so shocked and sad to see what’s going on. We will see going forward but I think my decision is already made.”

Current F1 drivers' champion and occasional subject of UN complaints about international incidents Max Verstappen supported Vettel's view.

“I think when a country is at war it’s not correct to race there, that’s for sure," Verstappen told the press. "But it’s not only what I think, the whole paddock is going to decide what we’re going to do next.”

At present, the Sochi race remains scheduled for Sept. 23-25 on the F1 calendar. 

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