According to the FIA, Russian driver Nikita Mazepin looked as if he would be allowed to race in Formula 1 but under a neutral flag. That may have changed slightly on Wednesday as Motorsport UK chair, David Richards CBE and the board stated that Mazepin would not be allowed to participate in the British Grand Prix.
“The entire Motorsport UK community condemns the acts of war by Russia and Belarus in Ukraine and expresses its solidarity and support towards all those affected by the ongoing conflict.” Richards said.
“We stand united with the people of Ukraine and the motorsport community following the invasion and the unacceptable actions that have unfolded. This is a time for the international motorsport community to act and show support for the people of Ukraine and our colleagues at the Federation Automobile d’Ukraine (FAU).”
“It is our duty to use whatever influence and leverage we might have to bring this wholly unjustified invasion of Ukraine to a halt. We would encourage the motorsport community and our colleagues around the world to fully embrace the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee and do whatever we can to end this war.”
“Motorsport UK stands united with Leonid Kostyuchenko, the President of the FAU, the Ukrainian motorsport community and the Ukrainian people and calls for the violence to end with a peaceful resolution.”
Former F1 driver from Russia, Daniil Kyat, said:
“Hopefully all parties can find a solution by sitting together and through a respectful dialogue.
“It horrifies me to see two brotherhood nations in a conflict.
“I don’t want military actions and wars to influence the future of humanity. I want my daughter and all children to enjoy this beautiful world.
“I also would like to highlight and address all sports federations across the world including IOC that sport should remain outside politics and disallowing Russian athletes and teams from participating in world competitions is an unfair solution and goes against what sport teaches us in its principle – the unity and peace.
“Who else if not us sports people will help to glue nations together in the upcoming times?”
I understand Richards point about placing pressure on Russia and within the context of the Olympics and IOC, these are national teams while Nikita is a Russian driver in an American team with Russian sponsorship that was recently removed from their car.
In the end, will it impact Putin or the Russian government if Nikita can’t race in the UK? Highly unlikely but it will impact Haas F1 and Nikita. Some couldn’t care less as they feel he is not in F1 on merit but via his Oligarch father’s sponsorship of the team.
That may be true, it may not, but what I do know is that targeting individual Russian people, outside of the government of Russia, should give some reason for pause. I’ve seen politicians suggest that all Russian students in the US should be rounded up and sent back to Russia. Is this the road we want to travel?
According to the The Times, it may be a moot point as they suggest that Mazepin is unlikely to return to F1 and Haas will replace him. That decision is up to Haas F1.