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FIA will allow Russian drivers to compete in ‘neutral capacity’

Russian drivers will be allowed to continue competing in FIA sanctioned events, motor racing's governing body decided on Tuesday, but only in a neutral capacity and under the ‘FIA flag’.

Nikita Mazepin, Haas VF-22

Following an extraordinary meeting of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council on Tuesday, it announced a raft of measures in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

While there had been calls from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to bar all Russian competitors from events, the FIA elected not to go that far.

In a statement the FIA said that it had approved that: “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.”

However, it has said that no competitions will take place in Russia or Belarus until further notice, and no flag, symbol or anthem of those countries will be allowed at any FIA event.

The FIA also formally cancelled this year’s Russian Grand Prix, with the governing body having the only regulatory authority to officially call off the race under force majeure.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “As you know, the FIA is watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and I hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation.

“We condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine and our thoughts are with all those suffering as a result of the events in Ukraine.

“I would like to stress that the FIA, together with our promoters, proactively acted on this matter last week and communicated accordingly on the Formula 1, Formula 2, WTCR and the International Drifting Cup. An updated version of the different FIA International Calendars will be presented to the WMSC meeting in Bahrain for approval.”

As well as the ban on events, the FIA has said that no Russian or Belarusian national teams will be allowed to compete in international or zone competitions, such as the Motorsport Games.

Russian and Belarusian members of FIA Commissions will also be required to step down from their roles temporarily.

Ben Sulayem added: “I want to thank the Council members for their prompt action in deciding these measures in the interests of sport and peace. We stand in solidarity with Leonid Kostyuchenko, the President of the Federation Automobile d’Ukraine (FAU) and the wider FIA family in the country.

“The measures taken today recognise the authority of the FAU in Ukraine and are also aligned with the recommendations recently made by the International Olympic Committee. We are in active discussions with our members as we continue to extend our compassion and support in their time of need. We sincerely hope for a peaceful resolution to their intolerable hardship.”

The decision to allow Russian drivers to continue competing means that Haas F1 driver Nikita Mazepin is not automatically forced out of grand prix racing, with his fate at the American-owned team now set to be finalised over the next few days.

The Haas squad issued a firm 'no comment' when prompted for reaction to the news of the FIA's decision on Tuesday night.

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