FIA accused of making Russian drivers sign ‘illegal’ document

Nikita Mazepin is unable to enter the United Kingdom to talk to current F1 teams about a potential return.

Russian oligarch Boris Rotenberg has accused the FIA of making Russian drivers sign an “illegal” document to continue racing in championships governed by them, following the ignition of the conflict in Eastern Europe.

Rotenberg is one of the most influential motorsport figures in Russia and is the man behind the very successful SMP Racing programme, a side which the likes of Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne have driven for.

SMP Racing have also been victorious previously at the Le Mans 24 Hours, in both the LMP2 and LMGTE Am categories.

Their progress has been halted since 2022 though, similar to ex-F1 driver Nikita Mazepin.

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The FIA wanted all Russian drivers to sign a document last year condoning their own country, something which many refused to do.

Ferrari reserve driver Robert Shwartzman went to the lengths of changing his nationality from Russian to Israeli, something he was able to do due to having been born in the latter.

Shwartzman also left SMP, in an attempt to keep his ties at Maranello.

His career has been saved by changing his nationality, whereas Mazepin continues to have trouble reopening doors.

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Most Russian drivers returned home last year to compete in their own nation, due to having no other option.

Rotenberg admits he “couldn’t force” Shwartzman to remain in Russia, with the Ferrari reserve ultimately having “his own dream”.

“Robert made a decision,” Rotenberg told the Tass news agency. “I couldn’t force him to stay in Russia.

“He has his own dream, which is understandable. But he was born in Russia, he grew up here, we raised him, but he has a dream that he wants to realise – to get into Formula 1.

“But that’s his decision, I can’t comment on that. And I wouldn’t do that.

“He lost his father and surely experienced some kind of pressure. But the rest of all the guys returned to participate in our championships.”

Rotenberg wants to see politics not having an impact on whether a driver can race or not, mostly due to how many careers have been halted due to the conflict.

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He also thinks what the governing body has done is “illegal”, based on the fact they’re asking the likes of Mazepin to “betray his country”.

“I think that, firstly, it is illegal,” Rotenberg insisted. “I saw it (the document) and he has to give up everything and betray his country.

“But sport should be out of politics. It should only unite. Even in such a situation, sport and culture should unite. But justice will always triumph, and the truth will always triumph,” Rotenberg said.