Mazepin’s future takes another hit as Motorsport UK clarifies Russia ban

Nikita Mazepin

Nikita Mazepin’s hopes of a second season in Formula 1 have taken another blow with confirmation he will indeed be unable to compete in the British Grand Prix.

Motorsport UK has clarified its position relating to drivers competing in events with Russian or Belarusian issued licecnses.

On Wednesday (local time) the United Kingdom’s equivalent of Motorsport Australia released a statement announcing it has suspended licences issued by the Russian Automobile Federation (RAF) or Belarus Automobile Federation (BAF) to teams, competitors, and officials.

Within the FIA’s International Sporting Code, ‘competitors’ and ‘drivers’ are not considered interchangeable. However, a representative from Motorsport UK has confirmed that, in their eyes, a driver is considered a competitor.

“With regards to this statement, drivers and competitors are regarded as one and the same,” a spokesperson from Motorsport UK advised when approached for clarification.

As a result, drivers such as Mazepin, Daniil Kvyat, and a raft of others are now unable to compete in the UK under their current licences.

Mazepin’s future was already hanging by a thread given his connection to Haas sponsor Uralkali, which was removed from the team’s cars on the final day of pre-season testing in Spain last week.

Team boss Guenther Steiner was set to spend this week working through the fallout of that decision, though it is not expected that the fertiliser company’s branding will return to the car.

As such, Mazepin’s role within the team is on shaky ground, with Pietro Fittipaldi widely expected to replace the Russian driver when F1 goes testing again next week.

However, it is not necessarily the end of the road for Mazepin.

The Uralkali situation aside, the Russian driver is able to swap nationalities by obtaining a racing licence with another national governing body (ASN).

To do so, he would require the RAF to agree while Mazepin would have to adopt the nationality of whichever ASN issued his new licence.

That would, theoretically at least, allow him to sidestep the issues of competing in the United Kingdom – currently the only country to have effectively banned Russian drivers at this stage.

The decision from Motorsport UK is at odds with the stated position of the FIA which earlier this week announced its own limitations on Russian and Belarusian participation in the sport which did not extend to blocking drivers from competition.

Instead, they are allowed to take part provided they do so “under the ‘FIA flag’, subject to specific commitment and adherence to the FIA’s principles of peace and political neutrality, until further notice.”

Motorsport Australia is expected to confirm its position, believed to be inline with that of Motorsport UK, on Friday.

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