‘I will not go… it’s wrong to race in that country’: Four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel calls for Russian Grand Prix to be CANCELLED after invasion of Ukraine by ‘a very strange and mad leadership’, as sport’s bosses stall on a decision
- Russian declared war on Ukraine on Thursday and have begun an invasion
- Formula One’s Russian Grand Prix is due to take place in Sochi on September 25
- Four-time world champion has called for Grand Prix to be stripped from Russia
- Vettel described Vladimir Putin’s leadership as ‘very strange and mad’
- UEFA are set to strip the Champions League final from St Petersburg
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has called on Formula One’s bosses to remove the Russian Grand Prix from the 2022 calendar after the invasion of Ukraine.
Aston Martin driver Vettel, 34, became the first F1 star to speak out against Russia after they declared war on Ukraine and invaded in the early hours of Thursday.
The German’s words come as an F1 statement refused to commit on making a decision over the race, which is due to be held in Sochi on September 25.
‘In my personal opinion, obviously I woke up again after this morning’s news, shocked,’ Vettel said on Thursday as pre-season testing continued in Barcelona.
‘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.
Sebastian Vettel is the first F1 driver to speak out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
The Russian Grand Prix is due to be held in Sochi in September. Lewis Hamilton won last year
‘I’m sure it’s something we will talk about, but as I said as GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association), we haven’t come together yet.’
Reigning world champion Max Verstappen stopped short of condemning Russia, but also thinks the race should be scrapped. He said: ‘When a country is at war, it is not right to race there.’
A statement released by Formula One earlier on Thursday read: ‘F1 is closely watching the very fluid developments like many others and at this time has no further comment on the race scheduled for September.
‘We will continue to monitor the situation very closely.’
The statement followed reports that the Russian Grand Prix had been removed from F1’s ticketing website, before later reappearing.
Russian president Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine on Thursday
An explosion is pictured in Dnipro, eastern Ukraine after Russian began their invasion
The Russian Grand Prix was added to F1’s calendar in 2014, with the circuit designed to race around the 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.
Calls to strip Russia of the Grand Prix come as UEFA prepare to take the Champions League final away from St Petersburg.
European football’s governing body have convened and emergency meeting on Friday, where the decision is due to be ratified, with three stadiums in England vying to step in to host May’s showpiece.
Wembley, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and London Stadium, where West Ham play, are all in the running to take over from Russia.