The Haas driver will race under a neutral banner (Pictures: Getty Images)

Son of Russian oligarch with ties to Putin allowed to compete in new F1 season

by · Metro

Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin, the son of a Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin, has been allowed to compete in this season’s F1 championship under a neutral flag.

The FIA called an emergency meeting to determine the fate of Mazepin after the International Olympic Committee – of which the FIA is a member – recommended sports bans for all Russian and Belarusian athletes from international events.

UEFA and FIFA have already suspended Russia from all club and national football fixtures, while F1 cancelled the Russian Grand Prix which was due to take place in Sochi in September.

Dmitry Mazepin met with Putin the day the invasion was launched (Picture: Getty)

There had been an expectation that Mazepin, widely considered the worst driver on the grid, would be barred from competing but the FIA have decided to allow Russian and Belarusian drivers to continue under certain provisos.

A statement on Tuesday evening confirmed: ‘Russian/Belarusian drivers, individual competitors and officials to participate in international/zone competitions only in their neutral capacity and under the “FIA flag”, subject to specific commitment and adherence to the FIA’s principles of peace and political neutrality, until further notice.

‘No Russian/Belarusian national symbols, colours, flags (uniform, equipment and car) should be displayed or anthems should be played at international/zone competitions, until further notice.’

Mazepin’s father Dmitry is an oligarch with close links to Putin and attended a one-to-one meeting with the Russian President on the same day he launched a military invasion of Ukraine.

Haas, the F1 team the younger Mazepin races for, is sponsored by Uralkali – a Russian fertiliser company part-owned by the elder Mazepin – and their branding was removed from the car for the final day of pre-season testing in Barcelona last week.

The Ukraine Motorsport Federation are expected to urge the governing body to take a stricter stance, while Haas could come under pressure to cut ties with Mazepin despite the FIA’s ruling.

Nikita Mazepin, left, has also met Putin several times (Picture: Getty)

Former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat took to social media to call for an end to the war, though also pleaded for his compatriot to be allowed to keep racing.

‘I also would like to highlight and address all sports federations across the world including [the] 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 its principle – the unity and peace,’ he wrote.

‘Who else if not us sports people will help to glue nations together in the upcoming times?’

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