Portuguese GP race steward Petrov heads home after father killed

Portimao (Portugal) (AFP) –


Former F1 driver Vitaly Petrov, who was due to act as race steward for the Portuguese Grand Prix, was withdrawn on Saturday after his father was reportedly gunned down at his home in Russia.

Petrov, 36, will be replaced for Sunday's race by Portugal's Bruno Correia.

The FIA said only that Petrov had left for Russia due to "a personal bereavement."

Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that Alexander Petrov was shot dead at his home in Vyborg, 80 miles north-west of St Petersburg.

Petrov was appointed as a race steward at this weekend's race despite his expression of controversial views on racism and gay rights.

The Russian, who raced in Formula One in 2011 and 2012, made a number of provocative comments during an interview with Russian publication Championat in September including criticism of Lewis Hamilton for encouraging drivers to take a knee in support of the sport's anti-racism campaign.

Petrov also speculated that the drivers would all "urge everyone to become gay" and race under a rainbow flag if one driver came out.