Motorsport UK statement raises questions over Mazepin

Nikita Mazepin

Russian teams and competitors have been blocked from competing in Motorsport UK events, with reports claiming the move bans Nikita Mazepin from the Formula 1 British Grand Prix.

A statement from the United Kingdom’s equivalent of Motorsport Australia overnight announced that “recognition of licences issued by the Russian Automobile Federation (RAF) and the Belarus Automobile Federation (BAF) is suspended.”

Specifically, it adds “No Russian/Belarusian licenced teams are approved to enter motorsport competitions in the UK.”

And also: “No Russian/Belarusian licenced competitors and officials are approved to participate in UK motorsport events.”

That the term driver is omitted, and instead explicitly states teams, competitors, and officials, leaves the statement open to interpretation.

Under the FIA’s International Sporting Code, ‘competitor’ is defined as a “Person or body accepted for any Competition whatsoever, and necessarily holding a Competitor’s Licence issued by their Parent ASN.”

However, the definition of a ‘driver’ in the ISC is a “Person driving an Automobile in any Competition whatsoever and necessarily holding a Driver’s Licence issued by their Parent ASN.”

Motorsport UK’s statement made no mention of drivers or the recognition of driver’s licences.

Drivers competing in the British Grand Prix require their licences to be endorsed by Motorsport UK despite it being an FIA competition.

The subtle difference between the ISC definitions seemingly leaves the door open for the likes of Mazepin, Daniil Kvyat, and others to compete in the UK.

Further supporting that is, throughout the International Sporting Code, references to a ‘competitor’ suggest an interpretation that it refers to teams or organisations rather than an individual.

There are also questions over how Motorsport UK’s decision would stand up if tested legally, noting its stance it more hardline than that of the FIA, which allows Russian licenced drivers to compete under an ‘FIA flag’.

Notwithstanding, a loophole exists which allows drivers to change nationality simply by changing the ASN which issues their licence – Alex Albon is British but so happens to competes with the Thai license.

Article 9.4.1 states that “any competitor or driver who has obtained their licence from an ASN takes the nationality of that ASN.”

As such, for Albon (among countless others globally), their racing nationality is recognised different to their actual nationality.

Adding yet another layer of complexity for Mazepin is the fact Formula 1 necessitates a Superlicence, which is issued by the FIA rather than the driver’s ASN.

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