Grand Prix star’s millionaire dad gunned down by sniper while relaxing in sauna

The father of a top Grand Prix official was gunned down at his country house as he went for dip in a cold outdoor pool after taking a sauna.

Former Russian Formula One driver Vitaly Petrov, 36, was replaced as a steward of the Portuguese Grand Prix after a “professional sniper” shot his father in the chest.

Millionaire Alexander Petrov, 61, died on the spot in the village of Velikoye some 80 miles north of St Petersburg.

The prominent local politician and businessman who owned 24 companies had been due to appear as a witness in a corruption case on Tuesday, said sources close to the murder investigation.

There was no sign of a break-in at his summer house, where he had gone to relax for the weekend.

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“Investigators suppose that Alexander Petrov was shot by a professional killer, possibly ex-security services,” reported BAZA news outlet which has close links to law enforcement.

“The shot was from a long distance with a sniper's rifle.

“Investigators established that the killer was observing his victim for six to eight hours, waiting for the moment to shoot.”

The “contract killer” shot across a river, it is alleged and is not believed to have been hired in relation to his son’s career.

Paramedics were called to the scene but were unable to save him.

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Six weeks ago his son had celebrated his 36th birthday with his father.

The ex-driver said: “For years I haven't been celebrating my birthday in the circle of my closest ones.

“Thank you to my parents, my brother, my dear wife for the amazing days we spent together.”

The suspected contract killing came two days before Petrov Senior was due to appear as a witness in a criminal case against the head of Vyborg district administration, Gennady Orlov, who was arrested on suspicion of stealing 700 million roubles (£7 million).

The businessman was selling his empire and intended to move abroad.

Petrov Junior had been due to be a Grand Prix steward for the first time today in a controversial appointment.

He withdrew when he received news of his father’s death.

Last month Vitaly Petrov criticised an anti-racism gesture by Lewis Hamilton.

The Russian had said the British driver wearing a T-shirt calling for U.S. police to be arrested for the killing of Black medical worker Breonna Taylor was 'too much'.

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

He raced in F1 between 2010 and 2012 for Renault, Lotus and Caterham.

The Russian Investigative Committee has lauanched a murder probe over the killing in the Vyborg district of Leningrad regoon.

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