F1 has officially cancelled September’s Russian Grand Prix following the country’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. Up until the announcement, all we’d heard from F1 regarding the future of the race was that officials were “closely watching” events in Ukraine, with no further comment made.
Now, F1 has released a statement confirming that the sport will not race in Sochi Autodrom. It reads:
“The FIA Formula 1 World Championship visits countries all over the world with a positive vision to unite people, bringing nations together.
We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation.
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.”
On Thursday, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel said that he wouldn’t race there if F1 failed to cancel the event. “I think it’s wrong to race in that country,” he said, adding “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 Haas team meanwhile removed the branding of title sponsor Uralkali - a Russian potash producer - from trucks, motorhomes and cars overnight. Uralkali’s deputy chairman of the board is Dmitry Mazepin, father of Haas driver Nikita Mazepin and a Russian oligarch with links to Vladimir Putin. He was one of a group of businessmen called into a meeting with Putin on Thursday.
Haas says it will review its deal with Uralkali next week. Team principal Guenther Steiner has admitted Nikita Mazepin’s future at the team also “needs to be resolved”. Along with everything else, he may also have issues getting to races, with visa bans for Russian citizens currently under consideration as part of sanctions against the country.
It’s currently unclear which venue might be used as a replacement for Sochi in the 2022 season, but Istanbul Park in Turkey is seen as a potential option. The track has twice hosted replacement races for Grand Prix cancelled by the Covid-19 pandemic.