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Ferrari

Future Ferrari star amongst Russian crop affected by FIA restrictions

Nikita Mazepin was not the only driver impacted when the FIA announced restrictions on Russians and Belarusians competing in motorsport.

Robert Schwartzman during the Abu Dhabi winter test
Article
To news overview © Ferrari

Ferrari prospect Robert Shwartzman is amongst a list of Russian racing drivers close to the Formula 1 paddock now unable to compete under their national flag.

It comes with the FIA having followed a number of sport's other top governing bodies in responding to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which will force Russian and Belarusian drivers to compete in a neutral capacity and under the 'FIA flag'.

Russia has been hit by a list of sanctions by nations around the world following the invasion, led by Vladimir Putin and supported by leaders in nearby Belarus.

It has also seen a sudden response from the sporting world with FIFA and UEFA issuing bans against Russia and Belarus. On Monday, the International Olympic Committee recommended that Russian and Belarusian athletes be banned from competitions.

Following an extraordinary meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council on Tuesday afternoon, arranged by new President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, members voted to follow the IOC's recommendations in the motorsport world.

However, the IOC's statement included that "wherever this is not possible on short notice for organisational or legal reasons, the IOC EB (Executive Board) strongly urges International Sports Federations and organisers of sports events worldwide to do everything in their power to ensure that no athlete or sports official from Russia or Belarus be allowed to take part under the name of Russia or Belarus".

As such, the door is still open for Russian and Belarusian drivers to compete as neutrals.

Shwartzman cannot compete under the Russian flag

Beyond Haas F1 driver Nikita Mazepin, there are several other names in high-level motorsport that will be affected by the FIA's restrictions, including Ferrari-backed Shwartzman.

Shwartzman was born in Israel but identifies as Russian, racing under the Russian flag.

Last season, the 22-year-old placed second in Formula 2, finishing behind only Alpine test and reserve driver Oscar Piastri in the race for the title. His strong finish was considered the next step in a steady rise, having previously won the Toyota Racing Series and the Formula 3 championship.

Still young, Shwartzman has been kept close by Ferrari and is set to be the team's test driver for the 2022 season.

Shwartzman could still appear under a national flag this year, if he can prove to the FIA that he has close links to or a domicile in Israel – should he wish to go down this route. It would - in theory - allow him to apply for a new FIA licence as an Israeli driver.

He would not be the first driver to apply for a licence in a country other than their homeland, with British-born racer Alex Albon currently racing under the Thai flag.

But for now it appears more likely that Shwartzman will compete under the flag of the FIA.

Who else has been hit by the FIA's decisions?

Alongside Mazepin and Shwartzman, there are four other well-known drivers in the F1 paddock who are facing a season of racing as neutrals.

Daniil Kvyat (27), Sergey Sirotkin (26) and Vitaly Petrov (37) each hold FIA platinum categorisation licences.

Kvyat was due to compete for G-Drive Racing in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 2022, while Sirotkin and Petrov have in recent seasons both competed in GT cars.

Eight-time Formula 2 race winner Artem Markelov (27) will also be affected.

Also interesting:

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