Drivers, Teams Back Call to Pull Out of Russia for Grand Prix

Several Formula 1 drivers and teams expressed support for the racing league's decision to pull out of Russia for the upcoming Grand Prix race amid the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

In a statement issued on Thursday, F1 said that the racing league, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and several F1 teams came to the decision that "it is impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances."

Its statement comes shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russian military forces were going into Ukraine to conduct a military operation. The Russian Grand Prix was scheduled to take place at Sochi's Olympic Park from Friday, September 23 to Sunday, September 25.

Shortly after F1 issued its statement, several driving teams expressed support for the decision.

"McLaren Racing is in full support of F1 and the FIA's decision to remove the 2022 Russian Grand Prix from the 2022 race calendar," McLaren's F1 team tweeted on Thursday.

Similarly, the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 team also issued a statement backing the decision by F1, saying that it was made by "all F1 stakeholders, including the teams."

Formula 2 also said that they have reached the "same decision" as F1 in regard to pulling out of Russia for the Grand Prix.

In addition to the teams, several prominent F1 drivers also previously said they were planning to pull out of the race before the F1 announced its decision on Thursday.

"In my personal opinion, obviously I woke up again to this morning's news and I was shocked," Sebastian Vettel, a four-time F1 world champion and member of Ashton Martin's F1 team, said during an interview on Thursday, according to ESPN. "I think it's horrible to see what is happening and obviously if you look at the calendar we have a race scheduled in Russia. For myself, my opinion is I should not go, I will not go. I'm just really shocked and sad to see what's going on. We will see going forward, but I think my decision is already made."

Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen made similar comments on Thursday, saying, "When a country is at war it's not correct to race there, that's for sure," ESPN reported.

According to BBC, several other drivers including Lando Norris of McLaren, Alexander Albon of Williams F1 Racing and Carlos Sainz of Ferrari's F1 team also said they backed the decision to pull the race out of Russia.

"I would have found it very difficult to catch a plane and land in a country that is at war, so I am happy everything has been cancelled for the moment and now we can just hope and pray that everything is going to be solved soon," Sainz said, according to BBC.

However, Russian driver Nikita Mazepin, who is a member of Haas' F1 team issued a statement on Friday saying, "To my fans and followers - it's a difficult time and I am not in control over a lot of what is being said and done. I'm choosing to focus on what I CAN control by working hard and doing my best for my @HaasF1Team. My deepest thanks for your understanding and support."

Following the statement by F1, the promoter of the Russian Grand Prix, ROSGONKI, issued its own response hinting that the race could still take place in Russia.

"The purchased tickets are not cancelled—there is no need to get refunds for them now because it is still possible that the round will take place and will be held as previously scheduled," the statement said.

Newsweek reached out to several other F1 teams including Mercedes Benz AMG Petronas and the Haas F1 team for comment on the decision to pull out of Russia, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Formula 1 racing
Several Formula 1 drivers and teams have supported the racing league's decision to pull out of Russia for the upcoming Grand Prix amid the ongoing conflict with Ukraine. Above, Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen in the RB18 during the third and final day of testing at Spain's Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya prior to the start of the Formula 1 season. ANP/Getty