When is the Russian Grand Prix? What Formula 1 has said amid cancellation after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
The race will not go ahead amid international outcry over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
President Vladimir Putin ordered a military attack on the neighbouring territory last week, and since then the situation has descended into one of open combat.
The GP was due to take place in Sochi on September 25th, but has been called off after F1 claimed that the current crisis makes the prospect of a race going ahead in Russia “impossible”.
An agreement to cancel the event was reached after all 10 team bosses held an emergency meeting with the sport’s CEO, Stefano Domenicali, and governing body, the FIA, last Thursday evening.
As yet, there has been no indication as to which country, if any, will replace Russia on the racing calendar, although Turkey has been mooted as one potential option.
The FIA have reached a decision to allow Russian drivers to continue competing in races, however.
What have Formula 1 said about the Russian Grand Prix?
In a statement issued on Friday afternoon, F1 confirmed that it would not be racing in Russia later this year.
“The FIA Formula 1 World Championship visits countries all over the world with a positive vision to unite people, bringing nations together,” the statement reads.
“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.”
What have the FIA said about Russian drivers?
The governing body has confirmed that Russian drivers will still be allowed to compete in races this year - albeit in a neutral capacity.
In particular, the decision affects Haas’ Nikita Mazepin.
An FIA spokesman said the organisation was “acting like FIFA, ITF, UCI... we ban national teams not athletes in foreign teams”.
The governing body also said that the decision was “in accordance with International Olympic Committee recommendations”.
The FIA reiterated that no Russian or Belarusian national teams could compete in international competitions until further notice, and while Russian competitors will be allowed to take part in international events, they will have to do so in a “neutral capacity and under the ‘FIA flag’, subject to specific commitment and adherence to the FIA’s principles of peace and political neutrality, until further notice”.
No Russian or Belarusian national symbols, colours, or flags may be displayed on either uniform, equipment, or car, and the respective anthems of the two nations will not be played.
Despite the decision, there remains some doubt as to whether Mazepin will be able to race in F1 this year.
Given the mounting international sanctions against Russia, questions over whether individual host countries will permit Russian licence holders to race are still valid.
There also remains the possibility that Mazepin’s team, Haas, will be forced to distance themselves from Russia and Putin.
The 22-year-old’s father, Dmitry, is a major financial backer of the team and is known to be a close associate of the Russian president.
What have the drivers said about the Russian Grand Prix?
A number of drivers have been vocal in their advocacy for this year’s race being cancelled.
Four-time world champion Sebsatian Vettel vowed to boycott any event in Russia earlier in the week, stating: “I will not go. I think it’s wrong to race in the country.”
He added: “I’m sorry for the people, innocent people that are losing their lives, that are getting killed for stupid reasons and a very, very strange and mad leadership.
“I’m sure it’s something that we will talk about, but personally I’m just so shocked and sad to see what is going on. So we will see going forward, but I think my decision is already made.
“In these circumstances, I cannot understand why one would hesitate, and why we would go there. That’s my decision, but I’m sure with time other people will take their stance.
“I’m not that tolerant taking a different stance to be honest because it just seems insane and I’m shocked to see what’s going on.”
Likewise, Max Verstappen echoed Vettel’s sentiments.
He said: “When a country is at war it is not right to race there.”
Spanish driver Fernando Alonso also back the decision to cancel the race in Sochi.
He said: “We have our opinion and I’m sure it’s the same as everyone. We can make our own decisions for sure but eventually I think Formula 1 will do the best thing.”
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