Vettel to boycott Russian Grand Prix after Ukraine attack
Sebastian Vettel says he won't compete in Russia after the attack on Ukraine, as the FIA comes under pressure to move the Sochi Grand Prix, scheduled for September.
Sebastian Vettel has stated he has already decided not to participate in September's Russian Grand Prix after Russia launched an attack on neighbouring Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to attack Ukraine comes just days after Moscow elected to recognise the independence of two breakaway regions in the east of the country, and has led to Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy severing diplomatic ties with Russia and declaring martial law in the country.
The attack has drawn widespread international condemnation, and has already impacted the sporting world, with UEFA likely to strip St Petersburg of May's Champions League final and the Ukrainian Premier League being suspended.
Now Vettel claims he has already made up his mind on whether he would participate in the Russian Grand Prix, currently scheduled for the final weekend in September in Sochi.
"I woke up after this morning's news, [and was] shocked," the four-time Drivers' champion said. "For myself, my opinion is I should not go, I will not go. I think it's wrong to race in the country. I'm sorry for the innocent people that are losing their lives, that are getting killed for stupid reasons and [because of] a very, very strange and mad [Russian] leadership. I'm sure it's something we will talk about, but as the GPDA [Grand Prix Driver's Association, the trade union representing Formula One drivers], we haven't come together yet."
Aston Martin driver Vettel, who won four consecutive world championships between 2010 and 2013, has been a director of the GPDA since 2010, and has previously spoken out on several other issues, being reprimanded for donning a pride flag at last year's Hungarian Grand Prix, before hosting an all-women's karting race prior to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix later that year.
Alonso and Verstappen speak out
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso also called on Formula One to "do the best thing", while reigning world champion Max Verstappen echoed Vettel's sentiments. "When a country is at war it is not right to race there," Verstappen said on day two of pre-season testing in Barcelona.
Formula One had earlier refused to comment on the potential for the race to be relocated, issuing a statement which claimed it "was closely watching the very fluid developments, and at this time has no further comment on the race," and added that it will "continue to monitor the situation very closely."