Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has confirmed that Russian driver Robert Shwartzman is still very much in the Scuderia’s plans after obtaining an Israeli passport.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the FIA mandated that all competitors and drivers in global motorsport from Russia and Belarus – the country that has aided Vladimir Putin’s regime – are to race in a neutral capacity, and that no branding from either country is to be displayed.
They also cancelled this year’s Russian Grand Prix, before Formula 1 itself terminated its contract with the organisers of the race under Force Majeure.
This would ordinarily have meant that Shwartzman, who most recently competed in Formula 2 in 2020, would have been fine to race, but a multitude of national motorsport governing bodies – including the UK – have banned Russian and Belarusian drivers from competing in events within the country.
A way around that is to apply for a racing license from another country, and Binotto confirms that this is what Shwartzman has done.
“He’s got an Israeli passport,” the Ferrari boss stated.
“In terms of (racing) licence, it’s not a Russian one.”
The FIA’s ban on branding meant that Haas terminated their now untenable partnership with Uralkali, leaving Nikita Mazepin without a seat after his drive was paid for by his father Dmitry, who part owns the firm and has close links to Putin.
Binotto divulged that the Russian has ended his partnerships with Russian brands, so he will continue to act as test driver in 2022.
“And he interrupted any agreement he got with Russian companies. So at the moment he is still our test driver and he will remain as that,” he affirmed.
Among the barrage of new rules introduced in 2022 is the compulsion for teams to run young drivers in practice sessions at least twice as F1 seeks to better promote and develop young talent.
The 52-year-old indicated that his team “will probably” let Shwartzman contest a practice session should the opportunity arise.