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F1 drivers praise decision to cancel Russian Grand Prix

Lando Norris and George Russell have welcomed Formula One’s decision to cancel the Russian Grand Prix due to the country’s attack on Ukraine.

Formula One said on Friday that the race in Sochi, due to be held on 25 September, would be “impossible to hold in the current circumstances” following the Vladimir Putin-backed invasion on Ukraine this week.

The race has yet to be replaced on the F1 schedule but the sport’s stance against Russia was universally agreed upon following a meeting of its teams on Thursday, and backed by several drivers at pre-season testing in Barcelona.

It comes after four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel declared he would not race in Russia in the wake of the invasion on Ukraine, a stance which added further pressure on F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali to call off the grand prix.

“We all would have stood together in that,” Mercedes driver Russell said, as he appeared at a press conference alongside Norris and Pierre Gasly. “But fortunately the guys at the helm of Formula 1 and the FIA came to a conclusion very quickly so we didn’t have to make any difficult decisions.

“So I’m thankful the decision has been made and so swiftly as well.”

Norris, who secured the first pole position of his F1 career at the Russian Grand Prix last season, said: “It’s sad to see what’s going on in the world right now.

“I think it’s a very good decision Formula 1 have made, because personally it’s not a place I would want to be going right now.

“It’s very sad to see everything that’s just going on and the innocent lives which are being taken as well.”

Gasly said he had been “personally affected” by the attack on the Ukraine and revealed he had “close” ones in the country.

“I’m actually really pleased this decision was was made,” he said. “To me, it’s completely the right one.

“Especially knowing they are in war, personally I don’t support the actions they are taking right now, so it’s kind of a relief F1 is also supporting and cancelling the grand prix itself.

“It’s a very difficult situation and very scary because these people don’t know if they’re going to be able to make it out there and whether they’re going to be able to see their relatives.

“So hopefully they can find a solution. About the Russian Grand Prix, I think it was definitely the right decision to make.”

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