RAF claims banning Mazepin from British GP is ‘discrimination’

Nikita Mazepin will not be allowed to race at this year's British Grand Prix after Motorsport UK's ban on Russian and Belarusian competitors.

The Russian Automobile Federation (RAF) has questioned Motorsport UK’s decision to prohibit Nikita Mazepin from racing at the 2022 British Grand Prix, accusing them of discrimination.

Following Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine in the last week, F1 has taken steps to ban Russian and Belarusian sponsors and branding to appear in the sport, while drivers from those countries are able to race as long as they use a neutral flag.

However, a day later, David Richards, chair of Motorsport UK, ruled that no Russian or Belarusian drivers or competitors were permitted to partake in racing events in Britain, meaning that Mazepin will not be able to contest the race in July.

“This decision was made in full consultation with the UK government and national sports governing bodies to ensure that there is a unilateral response to the crisis,” said Richards.

“It is our duty to use whatever influence and leverage we might have to bring this wholly unjustified invasion of Ukraine to a halt.”

Viktor Nikolayevich Kiriyanov, president of the RAF, has vowed to do what he can to “protect the interests of Russian athletes and Russian motorsport,” before the Russian motorsport governing body issued a statement labelling Richards’ decision as contravening the FIA’s code against “discrimination.”

Former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat said on social media recently that he is “horrified” by his countries invasion of their neighbours, but suggested that any notion to ban Russian sportspeople is “unfair.”

“I would also like to highlight and address all sports federations across the world, including IOC, that sport should remain outside politics, and disallowing Russian athletes and teams from participating in world competitions is an unfair solution and goes against what sport teaches us in principle: the unity and peace,” he said.

Former F1 supremo Bernie Eccletone has questioned the validity of Motorsport UK’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian drivers.

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“If he is contracted to Haas when the British GP takes place, he can drive,” he theorised in conversation with Agence France-Presse.

“Even if Mazepin is not driving, it would make no difference to anyone. It certainly is not punishing [Vladimir] Putin by stopping him.”

He also does not agree with the decision to cancel September’s Russian Grand Prix – the race that he put together with Putin.

“There is no war in Russia to my knowledge so if it took place it would make no difference to anybody. It would not affect anyone at all.”

“This idea of trying to punish Russia this way in a sporting sense is not going to punish Putin at all. The race would not matter to him or affect him adversely.”

The 91-year-old affirms that what he perceives as a virtuous act from F1 is not going to stop Russia’s barbaric attack on Ukraine.

“What’s he going to do, stop the invasion? It’s all ridiculous, this ‘Oh we must do something to help’ but they don’t do anything but talk, as there is nothing anyone can do,” he added.

It remains to be seen whether Uralkali, the firm part-owned by Mazepin’s father Dmitry, will remain a sponsor of Haas ahead of the 2022 season.

If it does not, the 22-year-old’s future could be in serious doubt.