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FIA 'absolutely right' to allow Russians to race - Ecclestone

FIA 'absolutely right' to allow Russians to race - Ecclestone

FIA 'absolutely right' to allow Russians to race - Ecclestone

FIA 'absolutely right' to allow Russians to race - Ecclestone

Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has backed the FIA's decision to allow Russian and Belarusian drivers to continue to compete in motorsport.

The FIA triggered an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council having been forced to act after the International Olympic Committee, which has fully recognised the FIA since 2013, called on the governing bodies of its recognised sports to ban all Russians and Belarusians from participating in international events.

The reaction was in relation to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin.

Despite calls for bans from the Ukrainian Motorsport Federation and similar actions taken in other sports, the FIA decided to allow Russian and Belarusian competitors to continue participation under a neutral flag, so long as they align with its political neutrality stance.

Motorsport UK has since gone a step further to ban Russian and Belarusian license holders from competing in UK-based events, meaning Haas driver Nikita Mazepin will not race at the British Grand Prix if the team retains his services.

Speaking to PA, Ecclestone insisted: “It was absolutely the right decision by the FIA.

“There are so many things being agreed by the world about this conflict between Russia 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.”

Russian president Putin "wouldn't care too much" about F1 race

F1 reacted quickly to the escalation of tension on the Russian-Ukraine border as the fighting began on February 24, with the sport coming together to decide on the cancellation of the Russian Grand Prix.

But Ecclestone, who made the deal with Putin that saw F1 visit Sochi in 2014, questioned the decision.

“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 1 race.”

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