Vettel announces that he will not run the Russian GP due to the invasion of Ukraine

The four times world champion Sebastian Vettel said he will not race at the Russian Grand Prix in September after Russia launched an offensive in Ukraine on Thursday, shelling cities and military bases.

After President Vladimir Putin announced the start of a military operation, the Ukrainian government confirmed that Russian tanks and troops had crossed the border.

“I woke up this morning shocked by the news. I think it is terrible to see what is happening. If you look at the calendar, there is a race scheduled in Russia (September 25),” Vettel said during pre-season testing in Barcelona on Thursday.

“In my opinion, I should not go, I will not go”, added the Aston Martin driver. “It seems to me a mistake to run in the country. I feel sorry for the innocent people who are losing their lives, killed for stupid reasons under strange and crazy leadership.”

The 34-year-old German driver leads the drivers’ association, but noted that the group has not spoken on the subject.

“I’m sure it’s something we’ll talk about,” he said. “Personally I am stunned and sad to see what is happening, so we will see what will be done, but I think I have made my decision.”

Verstappen supports Vettel

Reigning champion Max Verstappen agreed with Vettel but stopped short of giving up racing in Russia.

“I think that when a country is at war it is not correct to go running there”, said the Dutchman. “But it’s only what I think, it will be the whole grid that will decide what to do.”

Spaniard Fernando Alonso, two-time world champion, added: “We can make our own decisions, but of course in the end Formula One will decide for the best.”

F1 released a statement in which he stated that he “closely follows the very fluid events”, but he did not mention anything about whether the race in Sochi could be cancelled.

The team bosses were scheduled to meet on Thursday night to discuss the situation.

“My wish is that somehow this whole situation ends soon. We are going to meet each other tonight, to try to understand and how to respond to it,” said Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto.

Williams chief executive Jost Capito urged F1 to act wisely.

“It is a very sad situation and our thoughts are with the people involved,” he said.

“We think about the performance of our cars when there are people who fear losing their lives. We have to take that into account and we all agree on that… (F1) will make the right and appropriate decision for all of us.”

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