Nikita Mazepin: FIA allow Russian driver to race in Formula One under neutral flag

Much of sport has opted against allowing Russia athletes or teams to compete in international competition

Karl Matchett
Wednesday 02 March 2022 03:25
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Nikita Mazepin will be allowed to continue racing for Haas in the Formula One 2022 season, after the FIA opted to have Russian and Belarusian drivers compete under a neutral flag.

Many sports and their head organisations have opted to outright prohibit athletes and participants of those nationalities from taking part in their representative environments, following the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s forces.

That followed the International Olympic Association calling on all sports to ban athletes from participation in international events, with Fifa and Uefa responding shortly afterwards to ban clubs and national teams from those federations from tournaments.

However, motor racing’s top body has stopped short of that level of outright removal of Russian and Belarusian drivers, officials and other competitors, instead insisting they will be able to continue in their roles under the “FIA flag”, “in accordance with International Olympic Committee recommendations”. A statement from the governing organisation read:

“No Russian/Belarusian national teams to participate in international/zone competitions (e.g. FIA Motorsport Games), until further notice.

“Russian/Belarusian drivers, individual competitors and officials to participate in international/zone competitions only in their neutral capacity and under the “FIA flag”, subject to specific commitment and adherence to the FIA’s principles of peace and political neutrality, until further notice.

“No Russian/Belarusian national symbols, colours, flags (uniform, equipment and car)- should be displayed or anthems should be played at international/zone competitions, until further notice.”

Additionally, the FIA reiterated their stance of removing all involvement in the race calendar of the two nations involved in the invasion of Ukraine.

The statement added that there would be “no international/zone competition to take place in Russia and Belarus, until further notice” as well as no flags, symbols or anthems of the two nations. The Russian Grand Prix remains cancelled for the 2022 season, with the FIA statement noting it has been removed from the calendar for “reasons of Force Majeure”.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said his organisation is monitoring “the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and I hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation. We condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine and our thoughts are with all those suffering as a result of the events in Ukraine.”

The move means Mazepin is set to continue as one of Haas’ racers, though the F1 team have yet to respond fully. A Haas spokesman said following the FIA statement: “At this time we decline to comment.”

Haas recently removed the branding of Russian sponsor Uralkali from its car following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. They ran a plain white livery at the testing session in Barcelona last week, removing the Russian flag colours.

The move left Mazepin’s future in doubt as Uralkali was founded by the racer’s father Dmitry.

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