Russian forces commenced an invasion of Ukraine on Thursday after months of growing tensions, leading to condemnation around the world.
F1 chiefs will hold a meeting on Thursday night in Barcelona to discuss plans for the Russian Grand Prix in September, with four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel saying earlier today he would not race there.
The American-owned Haas squad enjoys title sponsorship from Russian company Uralkali, and fields Russian driver Nikita Mazepin in one of its cars. It typically uses a red, white and blue livery that resembles the Russian flag in places.
But the team issued a statement on Thursday saying it would be completing the final day of testing in Barcelona without the Uralkali branding, running a plain white livery.
“Haas F1 Team will present its VF-22 in a plain white livery, minus Uralkali branding, for the third and final day of track running at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday 25 February,” the team said.
“Nikita Mazepin will drive as planned in the morning session with Mick Schumacher taking over in the afternoon.
“No further comment will be made at this time regarding team partner agreements.”
Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin, Haas F1 Team VF-22
Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images
Haas issued the statement using its old logo that does not feature Uralkali in its team name.
Earlier in the day, both Mazepin and team principal Gunther Steiner had their press commitments cancelled.
The Russian Grand Prix is scheduled to take place in Sochi on 25 September. It is anticipated tomorrow that UEFA will announce it is stripping St Petersburg of the Champions League final, while there is doubt about World Cup qualification matches that are scheduled to take place in Russia in the near future.
F1 has raced in Russia since 2014, with President Vladimir Putin appearing at some of the earlier editions of the events to present trophies on the podium.
Vettel said in the press conference earlier today that while the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association was yet to discuss the matter, his mind was made up about racing in Sochi.
“My own opinion is I should not go, I will not go, I think it’s wrong to race in that country,” said Vettel.
“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.
“I’m sure it’s something we will talk about, but as I said as GPDA, we haven’t come together yet.
“But personally I’m just shocked and sad to see what’s going on. We will see going forward but my decision is already made.”