F3 driver Smolyar joins other Russian drivers leaving FIA series

Formula 3

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Formula 3 driver Alexander Smolyar has joined the growing number of Russian drivers who have opted not to continue racing in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Smolyar, who finished sixth in F2 last year, was due to return to the championship for a third season, with MP Motorsport.

However following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two weeks ago, the FIA announced any Russian competitors in its series would have to participate as neutrals. The sport’s governing body also required Russian drivers to sign declarations that they “acknowledge the strong commitment made by the FIA to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine” and undertake to “not express any support (direct or indirect) for the Russian and/or Belarusian activities in respect of Ukraine.”

Smolyar, who is backed by Russian junior driver programme SMP Racing, confirmed in a social media post today he had decided to pull out of the championship.

“I will not compete in FIA F3 and any international racing series this year,” he said. “I stand with the decision of SMP Racing to stop its European program as a result of an unprecedented requirements that FIA put on any Russian driver as a condition for access to international competitions.”

He is the latest in a series of Russian drivers who have either lost their seats or opted not to compete this year. Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin was dropped by his team Haas after they severed ties to his father’s company Uralkali.

In the World Endurance Championship, Russian team G-Drive has withdrawn, leaving ex-F1 racer Daniil Kvyat and Roman Rusinov without drives.

The only Russian driver in W Series, which will run at eight grand prix weekends, has also stepped down. Irina Sidorkova was replaced by Jem Hepworth for last week’s test at the Circuit de Catalunya.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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13 comments on “F3 driver Smolyar joins other Russian drivers leaving FIA series”

  1. Another Russian driver that doesn’t want to acknowledge his country attacked Ukraine and that they are commiting war crimes, massacring innocent people? Oh noes, poor him. May he never return to evil international racing then.

    1. Pedro Lopes Garcia
      10th March 2022, 12:45

      You know that if he does acknowledge that he will be put in jail and his family in harms way right?

    2. Would you put your freedom, maybe even your life on the line for a motor racing career? Would you endanger the liberty of your loved ones for a motor racing career?

      Russians are living in a dictatorship, where free speech is dangerous. I can understand that not all Russians are willing to speak out in public, regardless of their private views. I personally will not judge any Russian without knowing their personal views.

      1. They were free to move to another country. They didn’t because they found no problems with little green men back then and now they find no problems with Russian soldiers killing innocent Ukrainian people. Screw them all! May they suffer under benevolent dictatorship that 60% of Russians love so much.

  2. Do they actually realize that they are potentially putting an end to their (international) racing career ? This situation could possibly last. If and when the situation gets better in a near future, will teams accept these Russian drivers when the market is already saturated with many drivers from other countries ? Especially as they won’t be able to bring Russian sponsors as financially interesting as before, considering the massive economic sanctions on Russia, Russian companies and entities.

    1. Reading the article, it’s pretty clear his money backing dropped out, so he couldn’t pay for the seat anymore. That would’ve been the end of his career either way.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      10th March 2022, 13:26

      @arhn I don’t think any of these Russian drivers really have an option. You need to bring sponsorship with you to get to a decent level in motorsport and no Russian companies can pay for that anymore – in addition to no non-Russian companies wanting to get involved.

      There’s also the fact that as Russia continue to blow up hospitals and target civilians, more and more sanctions and limitations will be placed on Russia and it’s people. Even if it’s feasible to have a Russian driving for your team, will that still be true in 6 months?

      Unfortunately for them, Putin has ended their careers. It’s a shame because they didn’t choose to go to war but it’s just one of the many sad consequences of Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

      1. As a local news outlet titled an analysis earlier today here: “Putin is not only destroying Ukraine, he’s also leaving little left of Russia.”

      2. I see both of your points. But, when reading ““I stand with the decision of SMP Racing to stop its European program as a result of an unprecedented requirements that FIA“, it seemed to me that this withdrawals (among others) were made by conviction rather than by sponsorship issues.

        By contrast, it seemed to me that Mazepin would not have been against driving without the Russian flag, even for a short period, and attempt to find other financial ressources (which I concur would have been difficult).

  3. I do wonder which of them are genuinely against the war, but daren’t speak out for fear of repercussions.
    The comment from Smolyar sounds like he is blaming the sanctions for forcing him to miss out, but it could just be that he has to tow the party line to ensure that he keeps his SMP funding should he be able to restart his career one day.

    1. @EuroBrun I think the latter should have been the case. If he burned the bridge with his current, and with no other possible backer in foreseeable future, what would be left? It’s virtually his only choice (unless he’s willing to emigrate and able to change the nationality, maybe)

  4. “My career is going nowhere and I love the war my motherland started so much!”

    Now go fetch your wheelbarrow of freshly printed Roubles and enjoy your future in Formula T-90.

  5. Sergey Martyn
    16th March 2022, 9:21

    FIA imposes the duress or coercion – a situation whereby a person performs an act as a result of pressure against the person.
    Western jurisprudence goes down the drain…

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