Formula One officials announced Friday that the 2022 Russian Grand Prix has been canceled after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
What is the background?
After Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, several F1 drivers announced opposition to the 2022 Russian Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in late September at the Sochi Autodrom is southwest Russia.
"For myself, my opinion is I should not go — I will not go," said four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel. "I think it’s wrong to race in the country. I’m sorry for the innocent people who are losing their lives and getting killed for stupid reasons and very, very strange and mad leadership."
Defending world champion Max Verstappen similarly said, "When a country is at war, it is not right to race there."
What did F1 say?
In a statement, F1 officials said holding the Russian Grand Prix would be "impossible" given the "current circumstances."
"The FIA Formula 1 World Championship visits countries all over the world with a positive vision to unite people, bringing nations together," the statement said. "We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation."
"On Thursday evening Formula 1, the FIA, and the teams discussed the position of our sport, and the conclusion is, including the view of all relevant stakeholders, that it is impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances," the statement added.
The decision came after series officials held a meeting with team principals Thursday in Barcelona, the Athletic reported.
Perhaps the biggest motorsport conundrum related to the Russia-Ukraine war goes to Haas F1 Team.
On one hand, Uralkali, one of the world's leading potash fertilizer producers and exporters, is the team's title sponsor. On the other, Dimtry Mazepin — the father of Haas F1 driver Nikita Mazepin — is a Belarusian-Russian oligarch, key shareholder in Uralkali, and a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sports Illustrated noted.
On Thursday, Haas F1 removed Uralkali's branding from the team's transport trucks and car, which was painted with a red, white, and blue livery meant to resemble the Russian flag.
Haas F1 team principal Gunther Steiner said the team is reconsidering its Uralkali sponsorship and will announce more details next week. The sponsorship was intended to span multiple seasons for an undisclosed dollar amount. Multiyear sponsorships in F1 typically cost hundreds of millions of dollars because F1 is the most expensive form of motorsport in the world.
The team has said it can compete in the 2022 season even without Uralkali's funding.