Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has led a rallying call to the FIA in an attempt for the managing committee to abandon the Russian Grand Prix this season.
This comes in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Vettel himself has admitted that he will play no part in the race regardless of whether FIA scraps it or not.
F1’s leaders are reportedly going to meet to decide the fate of the Russian Grand Prix.
Vettel, who is a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, has often spoken about issues pertaining to social and human rights. In his latest statement over events transpiring in Ukraine, he reaffirmed that he will take a strong stand in the matter.
“My own opinion is I should not go, I will not go,” Vettel said.
“I think it’s wrong to race in that country. I’m sorry for the people, innocent people who are losing their lives, getting killed for stupid reasons under a very strange and mad leadership.
“I woke up again after this morning’s news, shocked. I think it’s horrible to see what is happening.”
Red Bull is also on the same page
Meanwhile, Red Bull boss Christian Horner was also confident that the FIA will ensure that the race does not go ahead in Russia.
“I can’t see how we can go possibly to Russia in the current climate,” he said. “It’s an issue for the governing body and the commercial rights holder that are responsible but how much can things change between now and September?”
Reigning world champion Max Verstappen, too, felt it would not make sense for a race to be conducted in a region that is undergoing a war.
“When a country is at war, it is not right to race there,” he said.
A statement from FIA was made on Thursday where it was stated that the situation was being monitored closely and a decision would soon be reached.
“Formula 1 is closely watching the very fluid developments like many others and at this time has no further comment on the race scheduled for September. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely,” it read.
Haas in a pickle
Haas also has some problems of its own owing to the Russian link that the team has.
Their main title sponsor is a Russian chemical company called Uralkali. Its owner is a Russian business tycoon Dmitry Mazepin and one of its racers is his son Nikita Mazepin.
Apart from this, the livery used on the car is a white, blue and red design, which is used to symbolise the colours on the Russian flag.
On Thursday, the team announced that it would not use this livery during the final day of pre-season testing. Instead, it ran in plain white colours.
What happened in 2014 and is it relavent?
Such an event has transpired in the past as well and it is worth looking at how FIA managed things back then.
Back in 2014, there were calls for the Russian Grand Prix to be scrapped after the country’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
Former world rally champion Ari Vatanen, who was also in the running for the FIA presidency, was firm in his stance.
“Do we support the regime who is masterminding this bloodshed? Or do we say this is not correct?” he had said.
“It would send a message of acceptance if we went to Russia. It would say we condone, effectively, maybe not explicitly, but by our actions we condone what is going on because it is used in propaganda.”
Although the FIA president Jean Todt had backed his suggestion, Bernie Ecclestone felt otherwise.
Ecclestone, who called the shots in F1 at the time, felt it was important for them not to mix sport and politics.
The race, which was backed by the Russian government and had President Vladimir Putin in attendance, was eventually won by Lewis Hamilton.
He was handed the winner’s trophy by none other than Putin himself.
What do you think will happen this time around? Let us know in the comments!