Formula 1 has ripped up its contract with Russia, taking away both this year’s race and any future races in the midst of the ongoing Ukraine conflict.
This year’s Russian Grand Prix, to be held in summer holiday spot and Winter Olympics host city Sochi, had already been cancelled.
But in a statement F1 confirmed it “has terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter meaning Russia will not have a race in the future”.
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The race was supposed to be moving to a revamped circuit at Agora Drive, just outside of St Petersburg – one of Russia’s biggest cities and the former capital before the 1917 Revolution – from 2023.
Putin had spent $366 million on the track, while the deal he struck with Bernie Ecclestone was reported to be worth around $67 million a year to the F1.
It has been reported that the decision to end the Russian GP deal was made last week after a meeting between the F1, FIA and team bosses.
The Turkish Grand Prix, which has been added to the calendar to fill a spot in the last two F1 seasons, is viewed as the most likely candidate to replace the Sochi race in 2022.
Reigning champion Max Verstappen and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel had both said they would not race there.
“For myself, my own opinion is I should not go, I will not go. I think it’s wrong to race in the country,” said German Vettel.
But former F1 supremo Ecclestone — who played a pivotal role in bringing the race to Russia — told AFP the cancellation made no sense.
“It does not make sense whichever way you look at,” Ecclestone said on Wednesday. “There is no war in Russia to my knowledge so if it took place it would make no difference to anybody.
“This idea of trying to punish Russia this way in a sporting sense is not going to punish (Russian President Vladimir) Putin at all.
“The race would not matter to him.”
The F1 world is still waiting to learn whether Haas will dump Russian driver Nikita Mazepin, after removing his family’s Uralkali branding from its 2022 car on the final day of testing in Barcelona.
Their reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi is viewed as the most likely candidate to replace Mazepin, and would be likely to step in as soon as next weekend’s Bahrain test.
Mazepin can still continue to drive although the FIA has announced a ban on Russian flags and the playing of the Russian national anthem.
Among other events stripped from Russia, European football’s governing body UEFA have taken away this year’s Champions League final from Saint Petersburg.