The Russian Grand Prix will not be part of the Formula One season this year after the sport’s bosses decided to remove it from its calendar following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel said he would boycott the Sochi Grand Prix and called for F1 chiefs to axe it from its 2022 calendar as he became the first driver to speak out against Russia on Thursday.
After initially stalling on a decision by saying they were monitoring the situation ‘very closely’, F1 officials decided to pull the plug on the race, due to be held on September 25, today.
The loss of the Grand Prix came just hours after UEFA handed Paris the Champions League final at the end of the football season as sport continued to turn on Russia.
F1 Aston Martin driver Vettel, 34, said on Thursday: ‘In my personal opinion, obviously I woke up again after this morning’s news, shocked.
‘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 people, innocent people who are losing their lives, getting killed for stupid reasons under a very strange and mad leadership.
‘I’m sure it’s something we will talk about, but as I said as GDPA (Grand Drivers’ Prix Association), we haven’t come together yet.’
The Russian Grand Prix in Sochi has been axed for this season’s Formula One campaign
The news came as Ukrainian soldiers formed up across a highway in Kyiv as they prepared to defend the city from Russian attackers, with gunfire and explosions heard in the capital
Sebastian Vettel said he would boycott the Sochi Grand Prix following Russia’s invasion
Reining world champion Max Verstappen stopped short of condemning Russia, but also thought the race should be scrapped. He added: ‘When a country is at war, it is not right to race there.’
The Russian Grand Prix was added to F1’s calendar in 2014, with the circuit designed to race around Sochi’s Olympic Park, which hosted that year’s Winter Games.
Lewis Hamilton has won five of the eight editions including last year’s race, which was his 100th victory in F1. The other three wins were also taken by Mercedes, with Nico Rosberg triumphant in 2016 and Valtteri Bottas in 2017 and 2020.
F1 team Haas removed Russian sponsor Uralkali’s branding from its car and run it in an all-white livery on the final day of Barcelona testing on Friday.
Ukrainian soldiers take position on a bridge inside the city of Kyiv, as Russian forces advance into the capital
F1 team Haas removed Russian sponsor Uralkali’s branding from its car and run it in an all-white livery on the final day of Barcelona testing on Friday
Haas, who Russian Nikita Mazepin (above) races with, are sponsored by Uralkali from Russia
Haas have run their cars with Russian flags and Uralkali stickers on them since last season as part of a title sponsorship deal, which has secured funding for the team and seen company owner and billionaire Dmitry Mazepin’s son Nikita signed to a race seat.
The 22-year-old Russian, who races alongside Mick Schumacher and drove on the opening two days of testing in Barcelona, took part in the morning session on Friday as planned.
Earlier today Saint Petersburg was stripped of the Champions League final in the wake of Russia declaring war on Ukraine.
UEFA confirmed European club football’s showpiece occasion on Saturday, May 28 will be moved to Paris from the Gazprom Arena in the Russian city after an emergency meeting of its executive committee was convened on Friday morning.
Paris’ Stade de France, which last held the Champions League final 16 years ago when Barcelona beat Arsenal, will now play host to the European showpiece at the end of the football season.
Russian armour is now advancing on Kyiv from the north and east, with US intelligence saying the plan is to besiege the city, capture an airport, and fly in paratroopers who would then attack the capital. The aim would be to capture the government and force them to sign a peace treaty handing control of the country back to Russia or a Russian puppet
UKRAINE WAR: LATEST
- Russia said it is not willing to negotiate with Ukraine’s government until military operation is over
- Came after Zelensky called for talks to end fighting
- Ukraine says Russia has bombed 33 civilian sites in Kyiv in the last 24 hours
- Two children have been reported killed in Kyiv bombing overnight
- Ukraine has banned men aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country to conscript them into armed forces
- Russia is deploying paratroopers to Chernobyl after capturing it yesterday, Moscow said
- Ukraine reported ‘anomalous’ radiation levels at the plant amid fears nuclear storage was breached in fighting, but Moscow said readings are normal
- Russia claims to have destroyed 118 Ukrainian military sites in 30 hours of fighting
- PM Boris Johnson pledged more support is coming to Ukraine in the coming days
- Johnson shared a phone call with Zelensky on Friday morning
The news in the world of sport came as Ukrainian forces took to the streets of Kyiv today with national guard troops pictured lining up defensive positions along a highway shortly before the sounds of gunfire and explosions rang out as they battled Russian forces for control of the capital.
Putin’s men are now thought to be inside the city, though their exact location and number is unclear. Fighting was reported in Obolon, on the city’s outskirts, in the early hours as the ministry of defence told residents to make Molotov cocktails to ‘repel the occupiers’. Russian forces were also spotted in Vorzel, Bucha, Irpen districts.
The Russian troops are thought to have arrived from the north-east, having pushed down from Chernobyl which was captured late yesterday. More Russian troops and armour are advancing on the capital from Konotop, in the east, having bypassed the city of Chernihiv where they ran into heavy Ukrainian resistance.
Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said today will be the war’s ‘hardest day’.
Once Kyiv is surrounded, US intelligence believes the plan will be for Russian special forces to move in and seize an airport – likely Sikorsky or Boryspil – which would then be used to fly in a much larger force of up to 10,000 paratroopers who would assault the capital.
The job of the paratroopers would be to enter the city, find Zelensky, his ministers, and parliamentarians, before forcing them to sign a peace deal handing control of the country back to Russia or a Moscow-backed puppet regime – effectively ending the war without Putin’s ground forces needing to complete the difficult and bloody task of seizing and occupying the whole country.
It appears the Russians almost pulled off the plan on the first day of the invasion when 20 attack helicopters landed a crack team of troops at Antonov Airport, 15 miles to the north of Kyiv. But Ukrainian national guard units managed to retake the landing strip overnight after heavy fighting, scattering the surviving Russian attackers into the surrounding countryside.