Russian & Belarusian Drivers Can Compete In F1 Without National Flag, Mazepin Seat Still In Doubt


While Russian and Belarusian drivers will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag, Mazepin may still be on his way out.

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The Haas livery was basically a Russian flag which has been removed

In an emergency meeting of the world motor sport council hosted by new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem on Tuesday, it was decided that in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, drivers from Russia and Belarus would be allowed to compete in motorsports governed by the FIA including F1, however, they will not be allowed to use their national flag, but will have to use a neutral flag. 

The extraordinary meeting came after the International Olympic Committee recommended that no Russian or Belarusian athletes should be allowed to participate in international competitions. FIFA and UEFA suspended the Russian and Belarusian teams and clubs from their various competitions including the World Cup which is slated to happen later this year in Qatar. Liberty Media, the commercial rights holders of F1 had already canceled the Russian GP slated for the track in Sochi in September after Vladimir Putin’s Russian government invaded Ukraine last Thursday. 


Nikita Mazepin’s exit would likely mean an opening for Giovinazzi or Fittipaldi 

This news comes as a sign of relief for Russian drivers in F1 – like current Haas driver Nikita Mazepin, Alpine reserve driver Daniil Kvyat, and Ferrari reserve driver Robert Schwartzman. For Mazepin things are more complicated as his father is Dimitri Mazepin, a Russian Oligarch whose company Uralkali is the main sponsor of the American Haas team. The Uralkali sponsorship was contingent on getting the young Russian the seat on the F1 grid, but in light of the Russian invasion, the Uralkali sponsorship was removed from the Haas car during the pre-season tests in Barcelona. 

Considering the sanctions on Russian organisations and their Oligarchs, chances are Uralkali would be leaving the Haas team as its primary sponsor. The relationship between the US and Russia is also back to Cold War-like levels which makes Russian sponsorship quite untenable on an American F1 team. 

“No international/zone competition will take place in Russia and Belarus, until further notice’ and ‘no flag/symbol or anthem of Russia/Belarus to be used in international/zone competitions, until further notice,” said the decision by the World Motor Sport Council. 

The Haas F1 team has also admitted that Mazepin’s future is up in the air and in the case, he was to not drive for the team, Pietro Fittipaldi would be the one to take his place alongside Mick Schumacher. That being said, considering Haas’s close ties with Ferrari, many have pegged the return of Antonio Giovinazzi to the paddock who lost his place at Alfa Romeo at the end of last season. Giovinazzi would likely be a free driver for Haas as he’s part of the Ferrari driver academy like Mick Schumacher and would help reduce the financial burden on the team in case it loses its primary sponsor. Giovinazzi is also experienced and quite decently rated would be a boon for the team. 

Before the world motor sport council meeting, Kvyat had appealed for an end of hostilities and was also against a ban for Russian athletes. Sebastian Vettel had been the first driver to be very vocal against the Russian invasion and had said that he would not travel for the Russian GP, but soon after Liberty Media cancelled the race. 


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