Formula One has cancelled this year’s Russian Grand Prix saying it was “impossible to hold the (race) in the current circumstances.” On Thursday crisis meeting of the commission was called after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The cancellation follows the passionate pleas from drivers, with world champions Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso all insisting that F1 should not race there. Last night an emergency meeting off the F1 Commission took place in Barcelona to discuss the crisis.
Vettel said: “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.”
The Sochi race has been a fixture on the calendar since 2014 but is due to move to St Petersburg’s Igora Drive complex from 2023. The ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine since 2014, has been one of the controversies around the race, but the escalating situation in Ukraine has made the race impossible.
Following the cancellation, the race’s promoter has claimed the race can still go ahead. Rosgonki told fans not to seek refunds for tickets as “it is still possible that the round will take place and will be held as previously scheduled” despite F1’s statement.
Tickets for the event were still on sale at the time of writing. It called the suspension of the contact a “force majeure events.” It added, “its business as usual providing services to the Sochi Autodrom guests, as well as organising and holding motorsport and other events of the federal, regional and municipal level as part of the event calendar approved.”
With Russian President Vladimir Putin having launched a military invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, an F1 spokesman had said on Thursday: “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.
Meanwhile, Haas team boss Gunther Steiner has said the future of his driver Nikita Mazepin “needs to resolved”.
Haas are owned by the US billionaire Gene Haas, who welcomed Mazepin’s money before last season to reduce his own investment in the team. Mazepin has been an underwhelming performer, and Putin’s decision looks likely to end his F1 career.
Asked about the Mazepins’ involvement, Steiner said: “It needs to be resolved. There are governments involved and I have no power over them and we need to see how the situation develops in Ukraine.”