British GP breaks ranks to ban Russian F1 driver Nikita Mazepin

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·Sports Reporter
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Motorsport UK has announced Russian and Belarusian drivers will be nabbed from the 2022 British Grand Prix, ruling out Hass driver Nikita Mazepin. (Photo by DeFodi Images/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Motorsport UK has announced Russian and Belarusian drivers will be nabbed from the 2022 British Grand Prix, ruling out Hass driver Nikita Mazepin. (Photo by DeFodi Images/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Russian Formula One driver Nikita Mazepin has been banned from competing in this year's British Grand Prix, despite the FIA announcing Russian drivers could continue to race under a neutral flag.

The short term future of Mazepin, who is soon to begin his second season with the Haas F1 team, has been subject to speculation since Russia invaded Ukraine last week, on the orders of president Vladimir Putin.

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The invasion has prompted an international outcry and widespread support for Ukraine, which has so far defied the Russian aggressors.

Sports leagues and codes around the world have announced the suspension of events in Russia, including F1 cancelling the Russian GP, in an effort to pressure the Kremlin into backing down.

Many countries have placed economic sanctions on Russia and its citizens, with speculation wealthy Russian citizens based overseas could also face sanctions.

Such speculation has swirled around Mazepin, whose father Dmitry boasts ties to the Kremlin, and is the billionaire owner of chemicals manufacturer Uralkali, the major sponsor of the Haas F1 team.

Haas changed their usual red, white and blue livery, which resembles the Russian flag, to an all white design during testing last week after the invasion began.

The FIA has followed the likes of tennis' governing bodies, the WTA and ATP, in allowing Russian and Belarusian drivers to compete under a neutral flag.

However, the peak body for British motorsport, Motorsport UK, had opted for a more direct approach, banning drivers and teams from the two countries outright.

“No Russian/Belarusian licensed teams are approved to enter motorsport competitions in the UK," their statement read.

“No Russian/Belarusian licensed competitors and officials are approved to participate in UK motorsport events.

“No Russian/Belarusian national symbols, colours, flags (on uniform, equipment and car) to be displayed at Motorsport UK permitted events.

“The Motorsport UK 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.”

Motorsport UK bans Nikita Mazepin from British Grand Prix

Mazepin will be permitted to race at the remaining grands prix on the calendar, subject to similar bans in other countries.

Motorsport UK chairman Dave Richards said the organisation had 'considered the appropriate response to the ongoing acts of war and aggression' by Russia in making the decision to break from the FIA's less punitive move.

“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.”

Haas F1 driver Nikita Mazepin's future with the team is uncertain, wth the Russian driver potentially at risk of a visa ban being applied to Russian citizens in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Cristiano Barni ATPImages/Getty Images)
Haas F1 driver Nikita Mazepin's future with the team is uncertain, wth the Russian driver potentially at risk of a visa ban being applied to Russian citizens in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Cristiano Barni ATPImages/Getty Images)

Richards went on to say he believed it was the duty of Motorsport UK to use 'whatever influence and leverage we might have' to bring peace to Ukraine and halt the invasion.

“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," he said.

“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.”

Mazepin endured a difficult rookie season in F1 last year, which began poorly before he even got on track as he was wrapped up in a groping scandal.

He spun out of the race at the first corner of his first grand prix, and spent much of the season playing catchup to fellow rookie teammate Mick Schumacher.

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