Motorsports in Russia getting stronger amid sanctions

Motorsports in Russia getting stronger amid sanctions

The Russian Grand Prix was cancelled beginning 2022 after the War in Eastern Europe began.

Considering that the majority of Russian racing drivers have returned home as a result of the FIA’s position on the crisis in Eastern Europe, former Formula 1 driver Vitaly Petrov thinks that motorsport in Russia has “grown stronger” since the onset of that conflict.

The FIA promptly imposed a ban on Russian racers competing under their flag after the conflict broke out at the beginning of 2022.

Yet, the governing body was content for Russian drivers to continue competing in FIA-run competitions as long as they did so while flying a neutral flag and adhering to a stance that opposed the war.

Some racers, like Robert Shwartzman of the Ferrari Driver Academy, chose to switch their nationality and the young driver went back to Israel where he was born in order to get an Israeli racing license.

On the other hand, Nikita Mazepin returned to Russia after being released by Haas prior to the 2022 season due to the breakdown of the US alliance with the Russian fertilizer giant Uralkali.

Mazepin raced in the Asian Le Mans series, making him the first Russian driver to compete outside of Russia this year since hostilities started; nevertheless, many Russian drivers are still unable to compete abroad.

Petrov, who is currently a top official at the Russian Automobile Federation, believes that having Russian drivers back home has actually improved the country’s national championships as a result of the increased skill on display.

“We have our own tracks, we have our own cars, so our motorsport does not stand still,” said Petrov. “It has even become stronger, because there are many competitions where our athletes who returned to Russia are now racing in.”

“They are continuing their careers here, so in general, motorsport is even gaining more momentum.”

The former Renault F1 driver is one of many who haven’t participated in a competition outside of Russia since the war began. This comes as majority of the Russian drivers are opposed to competing under a neutral flag or signing the FIA’s controversial declaration.

“We don’t have any prohibitions, “but unfortunately, we can’t race in Europe under the Russian flag,” Petrov added.

“We are also required to sign that paper… But in Russia, motorsport is still being developed independently of the international side.”

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