| 3 March 2024, Sunday |

Russian F1 Grand Prix Cancelled Following Invasion of Ukraine

Andrew Benson wrote this article in BBC:

The Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix has been cancelled as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

An F1 statement said it had been agreed at a meeting of stakeholders “that it is impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances”.

It added that F1 was watching the ongoing situation in Ukraine “with sadness and shock and hopes for a swift and peaceful resolution”.

The Russian Grand Prix was due to take place on 25 September in Sochi.

Meanwhile, Haas team boss Gunther Steiner has said the future of his driver Nikita Mazepin “needs to resolved”.

Steiner said the team had “legal issues to go through” in an apparent hint the US-based outfit are trying to split from Mazepin and the sponsorship money that comes from his father Dmitry – a billionaire with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Haas had already removed the logos advertising Mazepin’s company before Friday’s final day of this week’s pre-season test in Barcelona.

Steiner said the team would work on the situation next week, but insisted the future of Haas in F1 was not in doubt.

‘I should not go, I will not go’
The Russian Grand Prix is closely associated with Putin, who was instrumental in it being established in 2014 in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, where he has a palace.

The event is due to move to a purpose-built facility outside St Petersburg, Putin’s hometown, from 2023, but the event’s future in F1 must now be in serious doubt.

On Thursday, four-time champion Sebastian Vettel said he would not race in Russia if the race went ahead.

The German said: “I should not go, I will not go. It is wrong to race in the country.

“I am sorry for the innocent people who are being killed for stupid reasons and a very strange and mad leadership.”

His thoughts were echoed by world champion Max Verstappen, who said: “When a country is at war it is not right to race there.”

What about Haas and Mazepin?

Haas are owned by the US billionaire Gene Haas, who welcomed Mazepin’s money before last season to reduce his own investment in the team.

Mazepin has been an underwhelming performer, and Putin’s decision looks likely to end his F1 career.

Asked about the Mazepins’ involvement, Steiner said: “It needs to be resolved. There are governments involved and I have no power over them and we need to see how the situation develops in Ukraine.”

And referencing the decision to remove the stickers advertising Mazepin’s father’s company and the color scheme on the car, which echoed the Russian flag, Steiner said: “We made a decision yesterday with our team partners.

“I need to work on the rest next week. There is no setback for the competition side of the team, none at all. We just have to go through the commercial issues.

“The team are not affected by this. I told them there is nothing to worry about. We took the right decision to send a message to everyone.”