F1 monitoring Russia GP status, Sebastian Vettel says he will boycott

BARCELONA, Spain - Formula One said it is "closely watching the very fluid developments" in Ukraine but is yet to make a decision on what to do about September's Russian Grand Prix.

Russia's military launched a long-feared invasion of Ukraine early Thursday, attacking its ex-Soviet neighbour from multiple directions despite warnings of dire consequences from the international community. Thursday's attacks followed weeks of escalating tensions in the region.

The Russian GP is set to take place on September 25 at the Sochi Autodrom.

A Formula One statement said: "Formula One is closely watching the very fluid developments like many others and at this time has no further comment on the race scheduled for September. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely."

F1 boss Stefano Domenicali will meet with the 10 team bosses on Thursday evening to discuss the situation.

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel said Thursday he will not take part in that event if it goes ahead.

Vettel, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), said: "[The] GPDA haven't spoken on this subject so I can't speak on behalf of the GPDA.

"In my personal opinion, obviously I woke up again to this morning's news and I was shocked.

"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."

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen said: "When a country is at war it's not correct to race there, that's for sure."

F1 is currently at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya for preseason testing. One of F1's ten cars taking part in that test has generated significant attention this week.

American team Haas' title sponsor is Dimtry Mazepin's company Uralkali.

Haas launched the car earlier this year with the Uralkali name and logo across its cars and team kit and had adopted the company's red, white and blue Russian flag colours as its own. That car, which resembles a Russian flag from multiple angles, was driving around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya unchanged on Thursday as it took part in F1 preseason testing.

However, on Thursday evening the team confirmed it would run an all-white livery on the final day of the test and remove all Uralkali logos. A team statement added: "No further comment will be made at this time regarding team partner agreements."

Mazepin is a close associate of Putin, while Putin ally Sergei Chemezov has been chairman of the company since 2014.

Mazepin and Uralkali were not part of the first wave of international sanctions. As part of the team's sponsorship deal Mazepin's son, Nikita, races for Haas.

Team boss Guenther Steiner was due to talk to the media during a press conference on Thursday, but Haas has withdrew him from the session. It also cancelled a press briefing with Nikita Mazepin at the end of the day.

Team owner Gene Haas is at the Circuit de Catalunya but so far has not spoken to the media.

Another factor for Haas to monitor from a racing perspective will be the visa status of Nikita Mazepin if sanctions are extended to Russian nationals being denied entry to certain countries in the coming months.

If Mazepin is unable to enter countries, Haas' reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi -- grandson of former world champion Emerson -- is on hand to step in. Fittipaldi replaced Romain Grosjean at Haas at the 2020 Sakhir and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix when Romain Grosjean was recovering from injuries sustained at that year's Bahrain Grand Prix.