Ex-F1 driver Vitaly Petrov has questioned the validity of crowning a sporting 'World Champion' without the inclusion of Russia.
Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Russian drivers were restricted from competing in the FIA-affiliated championships, and drivers would need to run under a neutral flag to be permitted to take part in sanctioned events.
Some drivers with additional nationalities were permitted to run under a different racing licence, such as Robert Schwartzman, who now runs under an Israeli licence.
Haas' 2021 Haas driver Nikita Mazepin was unable to retain his seat for 2022, and ex-F1 driver Daniil Kvyat lost his seat in the World Endurance Championship.
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Ex-Caterham and Renault F1 driver, Vitaly Petrov, has his expressed his frustration at Russia's lack of motorsport opportunities.
In an interview with Russia's Sport-Express, Petrov was asked if he believed that the lack of Russian competitors in this year's Dakar rally made the champion illegitimate.
"I do not consider any champion or Olympic title [legitimate] without Russia," responded Petrov.
"All the more so the Dakar. How many times our sportsmen won it! We were not the last, to put it mildly. 19 victories!
"But I am not talking only about Dakar, I am talking about all sports. We should stop being afraid [and] get Russia back into the world sport."
Petrov: Russia's isolation won't last forever
Petrov added that he believed Russia's focus should be developing it's own talent pool of drivers, in anticipation of restrictions being lifted.
"It's certainly sad," added Petrov, when asked about the future of Russian motorsport.
"But if we talk in general about motorsport, then if all the strongest pilots compete within Russia, this will greatly raise internal competition and the overall level of racing.
"People will try different classes, they will bring new cars, a new audience will appear. We can use the current situation as an impetus to the development of motorsport. To train young people in order to further direct them in the future. After all, isolation will not last forever."
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