Ecclestone backs FIA decision not to ban Russian drivers

Michelle Foster
Nikita Mazepin standing in the Haas garage. Barcelona February 2022

Russian driver Nikita Mazepin standing in the Haas garage. Barcelona February 2022

Bernie Ecclestone has backed the FIA’s decision not to ban Russian drivers from competing, saying the war has “nothing to do” with them.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the world began to impose economic sanctions which extended to sporting events being taken away from Russia.

That was followed by the International Olympic Committee calling on sporting federations to ban all Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competitions.

The FIA opted against that, instead declaring that they can race but must do so ‘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’.

Former F1 supremo Ecclestone says that is the “right call.”

“It was absolutely the right decision by the FIA,” Ecclestone told the PA news agency.

“There are so many things being agreed by the world about this conflict between Russian and Ukraine. But I don’t think anybody has really thought it through or got their heads around it.

“If there is a Russian driver in F1, what does it have to do with Russia fighting a war? There is no relationship there.

“The Russian athletes have nothing to do with this conflict. They are not part of it, and they have never been part of it. They just happen to be Russian.”

But while that FIA decision looked as if it may have saved Nikita Mazepin’s Formula 1 career, Motorsport UK came out a day later saying no Russian competitors will be allowed to race in the United Kingdom.

Motorsport UK chief David Richards also urged the rest of the world’s motorsport communities to take a hard line.

As for Formula 1’s decision not to race in Russia, Ecclestone strangely questions whether that was the right call as there is “no war” in Russia.

He also doubts it will bother Vladimir Putin too much given he has bigger concerns right now.

“The Formula One Group decided it was the right thing to do to cancel the race but whether that was the right thing to do I don’t know? There is no war in Russia,” he said.

“The FIA confirmed it was cancelled because the Formula One Group cancelled it. If nobody spoke about cancelling the race, I am sure the FIA wouldn’t have done anything.


“He [Putin] is probably not happy at all with what is happening, but with all these things going on, and him being branded a criminal and with the world against him, I don’t think he would care too much about a Formula One race.”

Formula 1 has now also confirmed that the sport won’t be heading to Russia for the foreseeable future.

“Formula 1 can confirm it has terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter meaning Russia will not have a race in the future,” read a brief statement.


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