Motorsport's governing body, the FIA, has decided against an outright ban of Russian and Belarussian drivers ahead of the new Formula One season.
It means Nikita Mazepin will be allowed to race for the Haas team, albeit with some caveats.
The FIA have landed on the softer side of the International Olympic Committee's resolution to ban athletes from Russia and Belarus following the invasion of Ukraine.
The IOC diktat did recommend that where legal matters or time constraints were concerned, governing bodies could allow athletes to compete as neutrals, without national flags or names.
Following an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC), it was decided that Russian and Belarussian drivers can only race under an FIA flag.
Furthermore, "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 had been racing with a Russia flag-inspired front wing during testing in Barcelona.
World Athletics have been one of the international federations to opt for a harder line, barring all athletes from Russia and Belarus - even as neutrals - from competing at this year's major events.
FIBA, international basketball's governing body, have done the same. But the FIA's ruling is in line with that of swimming regulators, FINA, who will also allow Russians and Belarussians to compete under neutral flags.
Haas is already removing the Uralkali sponsoring from their trucks. #AMuS #F1 pic.twitter.com/MPuPGbE7HB
— Tobi Grüner 🏁 (@tgruener) February 24, 2022
Mazepin's future in Formula One was under further scrutiny, as his father - Dmitry - is a billionaire who own's the Haas team's sponsor, Uralkali. However, Haas are reportedly set to drop Uralkali as a sponsor.
Dmitry Mazepin also has ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, and served as a Soviet interpreter in Afghanistan during the occupation there in the late 80's.
“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," FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem told the extraordinary meeting.
"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.”
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.”
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