The Russian Grand Prix scheduled for September 25 has been cancelled in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the sport’s owners Formula One announced on Friday.
F1 were reacting to Russian President Vladimir Putin defying Western warnings to unleash a full-scale invasion on Thursday that quickly claimed dozens of lives and displaced at least 100,000 people.
Fighting has gone into a second day with Ukrainian forces fighting off Russian invaders in the streets of the capital Kyiv.
“On Thursday evening Formula 1, the FIA, and the teams discussed the position of our sport, and the conclusion is, including the view of all relevant stakeholders, that it is impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances,” read the Formula One statement.
“We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation.”
Their rapid action over the race comes after defending world champion Max Verstappen and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel had publicly declared at testing in Barcelona their opposition to driving in the race.
Red Bull driver Verstappen said: “When a country is at war, it’s not right to run there,” whilst Vettel was more forthright.
“For myself, my own opinion is I should not go, I will not go. I think it’s wrong to race in the country,” said the 34-year-old German Aston Martin driver.
“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.”
American Formula 1 team Haas showed their distaste for the invasion by announcing their cars—they have a Russian driver Nikita Mazepin—will not sport the Russian colours of its title sponsor Uralkali during the last day of pre-season testing on Friday.
Haas whose cars usually sport the blue, white and red colours of the Russian flag, “will present its VF-22 in a plain white livery, without the Uralkali branding, for the third and final day of testing” in Catalonia, the team said in a statement.
As for Mazepin, he “will drive as planned during the morning session”, said the team, without providing further details regarding “the agreement with the team sponors”.
Uralkali, a group specialising in potash, has the driver’s father, businessman Dmitry Mazepin, as its non-executive director.
This was due to be the last Russian Grand Prix in Sochi which has hosted the grand prix since 2014. Next year it is due to move to Saint Petersburg.