Four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel is leading the pack in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Shortly after news of the war broke out, the German declared that he will boycott the Russian Grand Prix if the event pushes through later in the year. Reigning world champion Max Verstappen also condemned the invasion.
Vettel has always been a quiet, steady presence in the F1 paddock, but he has been the most pro-active when it comes to making valuable contributions towards the resolution of environmental and social issues.
In recent years, Vettel has been silent about his work behind the scenes, but he has often been photographed doing small things like cleaning up litter during race weekends and riding a bicycle to work. In last season’s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, he organised a racing event that featured local women in a country that has been notorious for suppressing women’s rights.
Now, Vettel has spoken up and has decided that he will not keep his stand on the Ukraine issue behind the scenes. The Aston Martin driver, who won four consecutive championships with Red Bull, has declared that he will not race in the Russian GP which is scheduled to happen on September 25.
Formula 1 management has not cancelled the event yet, but links for ticket sales have been taken down from the official Formula 1 website. If the event is not cancelled, Vettel will still skip the race even if it compromises his season. “In my personal opinion, obviously I woke up shocked after this morning’s news. I think it’s horrible to see what is happening. Obviously if you look at the calendar, we have a race scheduled in Russia,” he said while talking to reporters at the testing session in Barcelona.
“For myself, my own opinion is I should not go, I will not go. 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,” he added.
The German also assured that the topic will be discussed at the next Grand Prix Drivers’ Association meeting, where he is one of the directors. Meanwhile, reigning champion Verstappen also spoke up about the situation. “When a country is at war it is not right to race there,” he said, sharing Vettel’s opinion.
Elsewhere on the grid, Haas has decided to strip their cars of the white, blue and red stripes that were part of their livery due to their sponsorship deal with Russian company Uralkali.