Lewis Hamilton’s face-to-face meeting with Putin: ‘It wasn’t me!’

Formula 1 appears to be cutting ties with Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The sport has already announced that the Russian Grand Prix will no longer be on the 2022 calendar, And now, Haas, the team that finished last in the standings in 2021, faces an uncertain future as its Russian F1 driver Nikita Mazepin could face a ban from racing. The president of the Automobile Federation of Ukraine, Leonid Kostyuchenk, has demanded that the FIA bans all Russian and Belarusian drivers from competing outside of their own countries.





An FIA spokesperson told the PA News agency: “An extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council will be convened tomorrow to discuss matters relating to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.




“Further updates will be given following the meeting.”

Haas also removed the branding of its partner Uralkali during testing in Barcelona – the company is owned partly by oligarch Dmitry Mazepin, father of Nikita.




The Russian Grand Prix has been a regular feature of the F1 season since 2014, when races started at the Sochi Autodrom.





In 2015, Hamilton won the Russian Grand Prix, and accidentally soaked Putin while celebrating with a bottle of champagne.




At the time the Russian leader laughed it off, but after winning again in 2018, Hamilton came face-to-face with Putin once more, promising him he would make sure he did not hit him with any champagne.

In the green room after the race, Putin was caught on TV speaking to a translator, who turned to Hamilton and said: “I am accustomed to awarding you something each year. Year, after year…”




Hamilton interrupted him and said: “This year I won’t spray you with Champagne. Last time it wasn’t me. It was someone else!”

The Mercedes star accepted the trophy for winning the race and shook Putin’s hand.




Last week, Hamilton took a stand against the Russian President after the violent invasion of Ukraine.

The 37-year-old also voiced his admiration for the Russian citizens who have risked their personal safety to join in with nationwide protests against their country’s aggressive actions.

He said: “When we see injustice it is important we stand against it.




“My heart goes out to all the courageous people of Ukraine who are facing such terrible attacks for simply choosing a better future.

“I stand with the Russian citizens who oppose this violence and seek peace, often at risk to their own freedom.

“Please stay safe everyone. We are praying for you.”

Before F1 announced that the Russian Grand Prix was off, Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel said last week that he would have boycotted a race in Russia had it gone ahead.

Vettel, a four-time world champion who is also a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA), has in recent years spoken out against homophobia and racism while urging the sport to do more to combat such issues.




He said: “In my personal opinion, I woke up to this morning’s news, shocked, so I don’t know. I think it’s horrible to see what is happening.

“Obviously if you look at the calendar we have a race scheduled in Russia. For myself, my own opinion is I should not go, I will not go. I think it’s wrong to race in the country.

“I’m sorry for the people, innocent people that are losing their lives, that are getting killed for stupid reasons and a very, very strange and mad leadership.

“I’m sure it’s something that we will talk about, but personally I’m just so shocked and sad to see what is going on.

“So we will see, going forward, but I think my decision is already made.”


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