Russian Grand Prix should be cancelled, says Vettel
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel says the Russian Grand Prix should be cancelled – and he will not be there if the race goes ahead.
Russian forces have invaded Ukraine on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is closely associated with his country’s F1 race.
Vettel, who drives for Aston Martin, said: “I should not go, I will not go. It is wrong to race in the country.
“I am sorry for the innocent people who are being killed for stupid reasons.”
He added he was “shocked” by events in Ukraine, and his decision not to race in Russia was “already made”.
The Russian Grand Prix is scheduled to take place in Sochi on September 25.
The Haas F1 team, who are sponsored by Russian firm Uralkali, have decided to drop the colours of the Russian flag from the livery of their car for the third day of pre-season testing and will run in plain white.
Russian Nikita Mazepin, whose father and billionaire Dmitry Mazepin owns Uralkali, drives for the American team.
A Haas statement said: “Nikita Mazepin will drive as planned in the morning session with Mick Schumacher taking over in the afternoon. No further comment will be made at this time regarding team partner agreements.”
Vettel said Russia had “a very strange and mad leadership”.
Reigning champion Max Verstappen said: “When a country is at war, it is not right to race there.”
And two-time champion Fernando Alonso said: “It will be an F1 decision. As drivers, we have our decision and I am sure it is the same as everyone but we don’t have the power to decide.
“We can take our own decision but F1 will do the best.”
The team principals will meet F1 officials at pre-season testing in Spain on Thursday to discuss the situation.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said: “It is an awful situation. It’s very sad. At the moment, all we can do is wait and see and hope for the best.
“The race is in September, and my wish is everything will stop very soon. F1 is trying to manage the situation and we will have meeting tonight to try to understand it better.
“We can only try to have a deep discussion and try to understand the situation for the future.”
F1 said in an earlier statement it was “closely watching the very fluid developments and at this time has no further comment on the race”.
It added: “We will continue to monitor the situation very closely.”
The page selling tickets for the event has disappeared from the official F1 website, and one promoting the Turkish Grand Prix has appeared.
That led to speculation the race would be cancelled and replaced by one at Turkey’s Istanbul Park.
But F1 said this was a development issue with the website and “nothing deliberate”.
The US-based Haas team has significant Russian financial backing through its driver Nikita Mazepin.
A spokesman said there was “presently no knock-on impact”, adding: “We are obviously monitoring the situation and will continue to do so.” (BBC)