Formula One terminates Russian GP contract

Championship promoters confirm country ‘will not have a race in future’ due to its invasion of Ukraine


AFP March 04, 2022

PARIS:

Formula One has removed Russia as a Grand Prix host for good due to the invasion of Ukraine, by terminating its contract with the organisers, the championship promoters announced on Thursday.

"Formula 1 can confirm it has terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter meaning Russia will not have a race in the future," they said in a statement.

The Black Sea resort of Sochi has hosted the race since the first running in 2014 but Saint Petersburg was due to replace it as the venue in 2023.

Formula One had already cancelled this year's race following public unease among leading drivers.

Reigning champion Max Verstappen and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel had both said they would not race there.

"For myself, my own opinion is I should not go, I will not go. I think it's wrong to race in the country," said German Vettel.

But former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone – who played a pivotal role in bringing the race to Russia – told AFP the cancellation made no sense.

"It does not make sense whichever way you look at," Ecclestone said on Wednesday. "There is no war in Russia to my knowledge so if it took place it would make no difference to anybody.

"This idea of trying to punish Russia this way in a sporting sense is not going to punish (Russian President Vladimir) Putin at all.

"The race would not matter to him."

Doubts also surround also the future of American Formula One team Haas's Russian driver Nikita Mazepin and their title sponsor Uralkali.

Haas dropped the Uralkali branding during the last day of pre-season testing in Barcelona last Friday.

Uralkali, a group specialising in potash, has Nikita Mazepin's father, Dmitry Mazepin, as its non-executive director.

Mazepin can still continue to drive although the FIA has announced a ban on Russian flags and the playing of the Russian national anthem.

Among other events stripped from Russia, European football's governing body UEFA have taken away this year's Champions League final from Saint Petersburg.

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