Russian motorsport ‘gaining more momentum’ as a result of conflict and sanctions

The Russian Grand Prix was axed from 2022 onwards following the start of the conflict in Eastern Europe.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Vitaly Petrov believes that motorsport in Russia has “become stronger” since the start of the conflict in Eastern Europe, with the vast majority of Russian racing drivers having returned home due to the FIA’s stance on the situation.

Following the ignition of the conflict at the start of 2022, the FIA quickly put a ban in place on Russian drivers racing under their flag.

The governing body were happy for Russian drivers to remain in FIA-run championships, though, if they competed under a neutral flag and signed a document condoning the conflict.

Some drivers like Ferrari Driver Academy member Robert Shwartzman opted to change nationality, with the young driver having returned to where he was born in Israel to gain an Israeli racing licence.

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Nikita Mazepin on the other hand, returned to Russia after being dropped by Haas ahead of the 2022 season, following the termination of the Americans partnership with Russian fertiliser company Uralkali.

Mazepin did compete outside of Russia for the first time this year since the conflict began after racing in the Asian Le Mans series; however, many Russian drivers remain unable to compete outside of their nation.

Petrov, who is now a top official at the Russian automobile federation believes having Russian drivers return to the country has actually resulted in the country’s national championships improving, given that more talent is on show.

“We have our own tracks, we have our own cars, so our motorsport does not stand still,” said Petrov.

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“It has even become stronger, because there are many competitions where our athletes who returned to Russia are now racing in. They are continuing their careers here, so in general, motorsport is even gaining more momentum.”

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The ex-Renault F1 driver is one of many who haven’t competed outside of Russia since the conflict started, with many being against racing under a neutral flag or signing the FIA’s controversial document.

“We don’t have any prohibitions,” Petrov said, “but unfortunately, we can’t race in Europe under the Russian flag. We are also required to sign that paper.

“But in Russia, motorsport is still being developed independently of the international side.”