“Sports titles are not valid without Russia”

Former F1 pilot Vitaly Petrov considers the FIA’s decision to ban Russian athletes from participating in international competitions under the Russian flag in 2022 unacceptable.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) announced that Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be able to participate in international competitions. However, the FIA ​​did not follow these recommendations, as it allowed Russian drivers to participate in international races on the condition that they race under a neutral flag. In addition, the FIA ​​announced that no international competitions will be held in Russia and Belarus until further notice.

After this announcement, the Russian Automobile Federation (RAF) considered this decision “discriminatory” and reminded the FIA ​​of its obligation of neutrality: “The FIA ​​shall promote the protection of human rights and human dignity and shall refrain from any discrimination based on race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, ethnic or social origin, language, religion, philosophical or political opinion, marital status or disability. in the context of the activity and to take any related measures”. Read the RAF statement.

Following the FIA’s decisions, Nikita Mazepin, the only Russian driver on the grid in Formula 1, has qualified for the 2022 season, provided the latter competes under a neutral flag. However, the American team Haas, where Mazepy competed in Formula 1, later decided to part ways with the driver, as well as with the main sponsor, the Russian company Uralkali, owned by Mazepy’s father.

Haas F1 Team has chosen to immediately terminate Uralkali’s title partnership and driver contract with Nikita Mazepin. “Like the entire Formula 1 community, the team is shocked and saddened by the invasion of Ukraine and wishes for a quick and peaceful end to the conflict.” in February 2022, he showed the team in a short press release to justify his choice.

At that time, Nikita Mazepin strongly criticized the exclusion of Russian athletes and he himself created a fund to help Russian athletes. This foundation- We Race As One – provides material and non-material support to athletes who cannot compete as a result of political decisions. This support includes legal assistance and psychological assistance.

Vitaly Petrov, the first Russian Formula 1 driver who competed for Renault and Caterham, believes that some world or Olympic titles are simply worthless if Russia is not represented in the sport. The former Renault driver cites the example of the Dakar Rally, where Russia’s Kamaz team was conspicuously absent from the 2023 edition after deciding not to compete, particularly because drivers had to sign an official document. Condemns Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

“Without Russia, I don’t consider any Olympic champion or title valuable. Especially in Dakar. How many times have our athletes won it? We, to put it mildly, were not the last. 19 wins!” Vitaly Petrov thinks so in an interview with the Russian “Sport-Express” website.

“However, I am not only talking about Dakar, but about all sports. We need to stop being afraid and bring Russia back into world sport. For me, this is unacceptable, I do not understand this absurdity of imposing certain ideas on people.

Petrov believes that this international isolation of Russia may ultimately benefit the Russians, as the level in the various categories of motorsport in the country will inevitably rise, although he expects the situation to come unstuck one day or another. the younger generation must be ready.

“Of course, it’s sad. But if we talk about motorsport in general, then if all the strong drivers compete in Russia, it will greatly increase domestic competition and the overall level of competition.” adds former Renault driver.

“People will try different categories, new cars will be introduced, new audience will be created. We can use the current situation as an impetus for the development of motor sports. Train the youth to guide them further in the future. After all, the isolation will not last forever.”

“Nobody should give up. I understand that the situation is difficult, I myself have been in Formula 1 all my life, I wanted to participate in the most prestigious car races. That’s why I understand young drivers very well. But you have to be patient, practice and believe in the best so that when those opportunities arise again, we’re all ready.”

Currently, Russian Robert Shvartsman is a reserve driver for Scuderia Ferrari in Formula 1, but the youngster competes under an Israeli license.

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