Bernie Ecclestone backs FIA decision not to ban Russian drivers after defending Vladimir Putin

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Bernie Ecclestone, a man who reached a deal in 2014 with Vladimir Putin to ensure the Russian Grand Prix, believes that Russian drivers should not be allowed to race.

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Formula One cancels Russian Grand Prix after invasion of Ukraine

Former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has placed his support behind Formula 1’s decision not to ban Russian drivers.

The FIA announced Tuesday that Russian motorsport drivers will be permitted to continue racing under a neutral flag in professional motorsport. According to reports, Nikita Mazepin may be in Bahrain for the first race in the 2022 season. However Haas are likely to replace him with reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi.

The FIA’s decision appears to be an anomaly among the international sports community, which has isolated Russia over the actions of its government.

FIFA and UEFA have expelled Russian clubs and teams from all competitions, excluding them from the Men’s World Cup in Qatar later in the year and the Women’s European Championships this summer in England. Russian club Spartak Moscow was also expelled from Europa League. UEFA’s sponsorship deal with Gazprom has been terminated.

Alisher Usmanov has sponsorship connections to Everton and his assets have been frozen by the European Union. Players’ unions and national associations joined forces to condemn Russia, call for sporting sanctions, and join the FIFA-UEFA joint statement. All of the English, Scottish, Irish and Northern Irish FAs have pledged to reject Russia’s invitation to any fixture.

Motorsport UK has banned Russian-licensed drivers from racing in the UK. This means that Mazepin will not be able compete at the British Grand Prix. However, Ecclestone supported the FIA’s position.

“It was absolutely the right decision by the FIA,”Ecclestone stated this to 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.”

Rumours that Mazepin will be replaced by Fittipaldi are rife about Mazepin’s future. Dmitry Mazepin is his father and oligarch. The team removed their branding on the last day of preseason testing in Barcelona.

Due to sanctions against Russia, the Russian Grand Prix, which was originally scheduled for September 25 in Sochi, was also cancelled.

Ecclestone agreed the lucrative deal with Russian president Vladimir Putin to add the race to the calendar in 2014, and he added: “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? Russia is at peace.

“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.”

The 22-race 2022 campaign (which was set to be an unprecedented 23 races before the Russian Grand Prix was cancelled) begins on March 20 with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

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