Formula 1 has permanently removed Russia from hosting the grand prix due to the invasion of Ukraine, terminating its contract with the organizers, the championship promoters announced on Thursday.
“Formula 1 can confirm that it has terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter, meaning Russia will not have a race in the future,” they said in a statement.
The Black Sea resort of Sochi has hosted the race since the inaugural race in 2014, but St Petersburg is set to replace it as a venue in 2023.
Formula 1 had already canceled this year’s race due to public unrest among the leading drivers.
Reigning champion Max Verstappen and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel had both said not to race there.
“For myself, my own opinion is that I shouldn’t go, I won’t go. I think it’s wrong to race in the country,” said Germany’s Vettel.
But former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone – who played a crucial role in bringing the race to Russia – told AFP the cancellation made no sense.
“It doesn’t make sense from which side you look,” Ecclestone said on Wednesday. “There is no war in Russia as far as I know, so if it happened it wouldn’t matter to anyone.
“This idea of punishing Russia in a sporting way in this way will not punish (Russian President Vladimir) Putin at all.
“The race wouldn’t matter to him.”
There are also doubts about the future of Russian driver Nikita Mazepin of the American Formula 1 team Haas and their title sponsor Uralkali.
Haas dropped the Uralkali brand name during the final day of testing in Barcelona last Friday.
Uralkali, a group specializing in potash, has Nikita Mazepin’s father, Dmitry Mazepin, as its non-executive director.
Mazepin can still drive, although the FIA has announced a ban on Russian flags and the playing of the Russian national anthem.
Among other events that have been stripped from Russia, European Football Association UEFA has moved this year’s Champions League final away from St Petersburg.