F1 Drivers Banned From Competing Under Russian Flag
Formula 1 Testing in Barcelona - Day 3
Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

F1 Drivers Banned From Competing Under Russian Flag

Manon Lamy March 6, 2022

The FIA has announced Russian F1 drivers are banned from competing under their national flag, in support of Ukraine.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it seems as if the sporting community, from football to formula 1, have been the most influential in imposing sanctions.

Whilst the IOC has taken the matter into a different direction than the FIA, there were still calls to remove Russian drivers altogether.

Russian and Belarusian drivers will now only be allowed to compete allowed a neutral flag and as long as they comply with the ‘driver commitment’ now drawn up.

However, UK motorsports have announced that they would not let Russian drivers and teams to enter motorsport competitions on UK territory.

Whilst some might argue that athletes are not to blame for the war, it seems as if sanctions of athletes are the only way through.

Formula One and the situation in Ukraine

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has had hard decisions to make so early in his role as FIA president.

Following the events in Ukraine, the FIA announced that they would suspend the Russian Grand Prix – which was supposed to take place in September 2022.

The race was ultimately cancelled and no replacement circuit has been named yet. Further to cancelling the 2022 Russian Grand Prix, it was also announced that the FIA had terminated its contract with the race provider.

No motorsport race will take place in Russia from now on.

The statement by Formula 1 said: “Formula 1 can confirm it has terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter meaning Russia will not have a race in the future.”

Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

The FIA seemed to be the one of the fairest sporting organisations, as they will still allow Russian and Belarusian drivers to keep driving but under the natural FIA flag.

There are still many questions to be answered, especially towards the drivers still involved in the sport.

Sport around the world have been burning bridges with Russian teams as just recently it was announced that the 2022 UEFA Champions League Final would move from St Petersburg to the Stade de France in Paris.

Along with this the Russian and Belarusian athletes were not permitted to compete in this month’s Paralympic Games in Beijing. FIFA has also suspended he Russian national football team and all Russian clubs.

The situation with driver Nikita Mazepin

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, HAAS Formula One team, presented an all white livery on the last day of the Barcelona testing, removing the Russian colours and the Ukralai logo.

The chemical company Uralkali, which was HAAS’s main sponsor last year, is a company that is part owned by Mazepin’s father.

Dmitry Mazepin, the driver’s father, is a Russian oligarch. Not only that but he is also a close associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Mazepin Senior is also a representative of Putin’s United Russia Party.

On the last day of testing in Barcelona, the HAAS team presented an all white livery, removing the Russian colours, and soon after, confirmed that they had terminated their partnership with Uralkali.

When this was announced many wondered if Nikita Mazepin would stay with the team considering he was there mostly because of his father’s money.

HAAS Formula One team is owned by Gene Haas, the president and founder of Haas Automation, a CNC machine tool manufacturer. He has set multiple teams, including in NASCAR and Formula One.

It didn’t make sense for an American team to keep a Russian Oligarch, and close associate of Putin, as the team’s main sponsor.

On Saturday, March 5, it was announced by the HAAS team that they had terminated their contract with their driver Nikita Mazepin with immediate effect.

Social media has had mixed feelings towards the departure of Mazepin. The driver also took to social media saying that he was willing to ‘accept the conditions proposed in order to continue’ and that he was completely ‘ignored and no process was followed in this unilateral step.’

What does it mean for the sport?

The world and the world of sports has been rocked by the war in Ukraine and for Formula One, it means that there will be no races in Russia or Belarus, and it is highly unlikely that any Russian or Belarusian drivers will continue unharmed by the situation.

For Mazepin the situation was difficult considering that many have affirmed that Nikita was only driving for HAAS because of his father’s influence.

As for who will be replacing the Russian drivers, nothing official has been said yet.

There have been speculations that Pietro Fittipaldi would take over as he is the team’s reserve driver as Guenther Steiner did say, in an interview with Speed City Broadcasting, if anything were to happen to Mazepin his first choice would be Fittipaldi as he knows the car.

Pietro Fittipaldi is the grandson of two-time Formula One world champion Emerson Fittipaldi. He made his debut at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix after the accident of Romain Grosjean.

Everything is developing fast and fans are eager to see who will drive for the team and how the season is going to develop.

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Manon is a freelance journalist for Freshered. She joined Freshered in February 2022 where she is still working today. As a freelance journalist she enjoys covering everything from international politics to Formula 1 and travelling. Manon is currently in her final year of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham after returning from a year abroad in Vienna, Austria. She hopes to continue her studies in Journalism.