In stunning and scary news late Wednesday night, Russia’s military launched an invasion of Ukraine that many have feared for months. Despite warnings from many countries internationally, Russia chose to attack Ukraine from multiple sides.
Obviously this news is scary and devastating, and is much more than just sports news. But Formula 1 is already preparing for the Russian Grand Prix in September, and now must make a decisive choice on how to handle the situation.
Although the news is relatively new, veteran driver Sebastian Vettel of Team Aston Martin has already informed the media that he will be boycotting the Russian Grand Prix if it still takes place.
“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.” -Sebastian Vettel
Reigning world champion Max Verstappen had some thoughts as well on the potential of a Russian Grand Prix this year.
“When a country is at war, it’s not right to race there, that’s for sure.”
It appears in less than 24 hours since the first explosions in Ukraine, two of the most respected drivers in the sport have made their stances clear on racing in Russia this year. We’ll see what the rest of the grid thinks.
Haas primary title sponsor is a Russian company named Uralkali. Haas has adopted the company’s colors for it’s car, which has looked very much like a Russian flag weaving about Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya this week at preseason trials.
However, with all the controversy between Russia and Ukraine, I can’t help but wonder what will happen to the Haas team throughout the season. Uralkali is owned by Russian billionaire Dimitry Mazepin. Mazepin’s son Nikita is Haas’ driver, and him being a driver is part of the deal Dimitry offered Haas.
Mazepin is a close associate of Putin, so it is uncomfortable to see the only American F1 team to be essentially controlled by a comrade of Putin. We will see if Formula 1 or any tracks force Haas to change their livery due to the actions of Russia last night.
Finally, Haas’ driver Nikita Mazepin may have issues if any countries deny Russian nationals access to their country. In this case Mazepin would be replaced by grandson of former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, Pietro. Fittipaldi last replaced Romain Grojean after he was injured at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Plenty of information still to be announced
We are still in the early news cycle of all this information. Formula 1 and it’s officials will meet with each of the 10 teams and discuss what everyone expects and thinks should happen. This is a scary string of events and the most important thing is people’s safety.
The teams will meet Thursday, and although the Russian Grand Prix is a long ways away, I expect an announcement in the next week as to if we will see Formula 1 in Russia this year.