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Holding the Russian Grand Prix would be wrong, say Verstappen and Vettel

Reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen and former champion Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday it would be wrong for the Russian Grand Prix to go ahead in September, after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, killing dozens of people in the early hours, according to the Ukrainian authorities.

Four-time champion Vettel said he had been shocked to wake up to the news and the Aston Martin driver is adamant he will not compete in the September 25 race in Sochi. 

“In my personal opinion, I woke up to this morning’s news, shocked, so I don’t know,” Vettel said at a press conference on the second day of pre-season testing in Barcelona.

“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 the country.”

Vettel, 34, said he was sure that there would be further discussions in the Formula One paddock. 

“I’m sorry for the people, innocent people that are losing their lives, that are getting killed for stupid reasons and a very, very strange and mad leadership,” said Vettel.

“I’m sure it’s something that we will talk about, but personally I’m just so shocked and sad to see what is going on.

“So we will see going forward, but I think my decision is already made.”

Reigning champion Verstappen said he was against competing there too.  

“When a country is at war, it’s not right to run there, that’s for sure,” said Verstappen.

“But what matters is not what I think, it’s the whole paddock that will decide.” 

An F1 spokesperson refused to be drawn over whether the race would take place.

“Formula One is closely watching the very fluid developments like many others and at this time has no further comment on the race scheduled for September.”

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