Russia questions F1 ’discrimination’
RAF wants to "protect the interests of Russian athletes"
Russia’s automobile federation (RAF) has questioned whether banning Russian drivers from Formula 1 and other categories is "discriminatory".
Although this year’s Sochi race has been cancelled and Haas must remove the Russian tricolours from its 2022 car, Nikita Mazepin was given a green light from the FIA to keep racing.
Ultimately, the 22-year-old may have to leave F1 if his father’s company Uralkali cannot return to the livery.
But just a day after the FIA sanctions were revealed, Britain’s Motorsport UK authority says Mazepin will not be permitted to contest the British GP at Silverstone later this year.
"This decision was made in full consultation with the UK government and national sports governing bodies to ensure that there is a unilateral response to the crisis," said chairman David Richards.
"It is our duty to use whatever influence and leverage we might have to bring this wholly unjustified invasion of Ukraine to a halt."
According to RAF president Viktor Nikolayevich Kiryanov, though, he will do whatever he can to "protect the interests of Russian athletes and Russian motorsport".
RAF also released a statement questioning the FIA’s adherence to its policies against "discrimination".
Interestingly, the World Motor Sport Council this week elected not to expel the RAF from the FIA.
Former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat insists he is "horrified" by the situation in Ukraine, but he believes "sport should remain outside of politics".
"By disallowing Russian athletes and teams from participating in world competitions is an unfair solution and goes against what sport teaches us in principle - unity and peace," said the Russian.
Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, meanwhile, wonders if David Richards-led Motorsport UK even has the power to ban Mazepin from Silverstone.
"If he is contracted to Haas when the British GP takes place, he can drive," the 91-year-old told Agence France-Presse.
"Even if Mazepin is not driving, it would make no difference to anyone. It certainly is not punishing Putin by stopping him."
Ecclestone also slammed the FIA’s decision to cancel the race at Sochi that he originally organised in direct collaboration with Vladimir Putin.
"There is no war in Russia to my knowledge so if it took place it would make no difference to anybody," he said. "It would not affect anyone at all.
"This idea of trying to punish Russia this way in a sporting sense is not going to punish Putin at all. The race would not matter to him or affect him at adversely.
"What’s he going to do, stop the invasion? It’s all ridiculous, this ’Oh we must do something to help’ but they don’t do anything but talk, as there is nothing anyone can do."