Ukraine motorsport boss calls for Russian ban

Nikita Mazepin

The challenges facing Nikita Mazepin’s Formula 1 future look to be growing following news the FIA has been asked to ban Russian drivers from world championship competition.

Mazepin’s seat at Haas is under a cloud after the American-registered team elected to remove the branding of title sponsor Uralkali for the final day of pre-season testing in Spain last week.

That came as hostilities broke out in Ukraine as Russian forces invaded the country.

Mazepin has a close relationship with Uralkali, which is part-owned by his father, Dmitry, who met with Russian president Vladimir Putin as recently as late last month.

Now, the president of the Automobile Federation of Ukraine (FAU), its equivalent of Motorsport Australia, has called for bans on Russian and Belarusian drivers and teams at world championship level.

Newly elected FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has written to FAU president Leonid Kostyuchenk to offer the “full support” of the FIA.

Formula 1 last week announced that it is impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix under the current circumstances, though stopped short of cancelling the event outright, despite what many reports have claimed.

Elsewhere, European Football’s governing body, UEFA, has moved the Champions League final from Saint Petersburg to Paris.

Kostyuchenk is now calling for a ban on athletes competing in world championships, extending the limitations currently placed on them by the International Olympic Committee.

Belarus is also mentioned in Kostyuchenk’s requests, given it is an ally of Russia that assisted in the Ukraine invasion.

* Prohibit the use of state symbols of the aggressor countries of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus during the FIA and FIA-sanctioned competitions;

* Prohibit the holding of FIA competitions and authorised FIA competitions on the territory of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus;

* Prohibit RAF and RAF-sanctioned competitions in the occupied territories of Ukraine;

* To exclude from the FIA all members from the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus;

* To exclude from the FIA commissions all persons representing organisations from the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus;

* Prohibit holders of all licenses issued by the RAF and BAF from competitions outside the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.

Announced last year, the IOC banned the use of Russian insignia in international sport, forcing Mazepin to last year race under the Russian Automobile Federation flag, rather than that of his homeland.

That related to a decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency following Russia’s systematic doping programme.

The country as a whole has been banned from international sport, though its athletes have been allowed to continue competing save for a number of nationalistic restrictions.

It saw Haas come under fire following the unveiling of its 2021 livery, with the white, red, and blue design seemingly flying in the face of the IOC restrictions.

The Russian GP meanwhile was able to go ahead due to a pre-existing commercial agreement being in place, though the national anthem was not played during the pre-race ceremony.

Further to developments out of Ukraine, well placed sources have told this writer that restrictions have already been put in place on Russian drivers and teams in at least one other world championship.

That is understood to have cost one high-profile Russian their drive and placed the team they were set to compete with at risk of collapse.

It’s believed there are other restrictions in place in an attempt to prevent Russian funding from entering the category.

In response, there have been suggestions of legal action against the body involved in the decision, though that situation is still developing.

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