Robert Shwartzman, Ferrari, Fiorano, 2020

Ferrari’s Russian test driver Shwartzman will use Israeli licence for F1 appearances

2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Ferrari’s Russian test driver Robert Shwartzman will use an Israeli licence to make any appearances for the team in Formula 1.

The team announced in February the 2021 Formula 2 runner-up will drive for them in two practice sessions during the season. However later that month Russia invaded Ukraine, which prompted the governing body of motorsport to introduce restrictions on the participation of Russian drivers in its events.

As well as stipulating Russian competitors must enter as neutrals, the FIA also requires them to sign a Driver Commitment acknowledging they forfeit their right to participate if they express support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Russian/Belarusian drivers [may] participate in international/zone competitions only in an individual and neutral capacity (as Authorised Neutral Drivers […]), subject to specific commitment and adherence to the FIA’s principles of peace and political neutrality, until further notice,” stated the FIA last month.

“This decision applies to drivers of Russian/Belarusian nationality and to drivers of any another nationality competing under the Russian or Belarusian ASN,” it added.

The announcement had immediate ramifications for Russian drivers competing in FIA series. The Haas F1 team dropped Nikita Mazepin, replacing him with Kevin Magnussen. Formula 3 driver Alexander Smolyar, who previously competed under a Russian licence, continued in the championship as as Authorised Neutral Driver.

Shwartzman competed in F2 last year under a Russian licence. However Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed he will use an alternative licence if he drives for them in future.

“Robert is born in Israel, he’s got an Israeli passport,” said Binotto in response to a question from RaceFans. “In terms of licence, it’s not a Russian one.”

Binotto also confirmed Shwartzman is no longer backed by any Russian companies. “He was in agreement as well with Russian companies, he interrupt any agreement he got with those [companies],” he added.

“So at the moment he’s still our test driver, he will remain for that, and if we will have in the future any opportunities to let him drive we will probably let him drive.”

Drivers who possess non-Russian or Belarusian passports may compete in FIA series without signing the Driver Commitment, RaceFans understands.

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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27 comments on “Ferrari’s Russian test driver Shwartzman will use Israeli licence for F1 appearances”

  1. How sad that sportspeople have to resort to passport shifting so they can still work and compete, simply due to the name of the country on their passport.
    And one of the tenets of sport was supposedly about bringing people together – independent of politics.

    Discrimination is alive and well, and being celebrated by many.

    1. There is no passport shifting taking place here–this man was born in Israel.

      As far as preventing certain orgs from competing, that’s perfectly acceptable in extreme cases.

      1. He is shifting his racing licence from his Russian passport to his Israeli passport just so he can continue to work…. IE – passport shifting.

        To your second statement… I disagree 100%. There is no such case where innocent people should be punished for the actions of others.

    2. You are forgetting tens of thousands of Ukrainians including children are dying. War and war crimes are alive and well, and being celebrated by many.

      1. I’m not forgetting anyone, @f1lauri. Nor am I celebrating anything – quite the opposite, actually.
        Perhaps you are forgetting that banning Russian sportspeople won’t stop Ukrainians from dying.

      2. And we realise this now? While people have been dying for ages at the hands of the US, UK and Israel? Where are their sanctions and their sport bans?

      3. @f1lauri
        What a sick analogy. There was no indication anyone was forgetting the issues you raised so please do not guilt trip people when you have no idea of their views these matters. If anything you are belittling the very real problems that are occurring by using them to take a cheap shot at others.

    3. Rob was quite free to race under a Russian licence if he signed the additional pro-peace agreement (something that I’d be quite happy to see extended generally, though the current implementation is understandable as a short-notice attempt to salvage the ability of Russians and Belarussians to not be punished for actions made by others that they may not agree with).

      There are several possible motives for using a different passport this year, but the basic ability to race is not among them.

      1. Rob was quite free to race under a Russian licence if he signed the additional pro-peace agreement

        But not everywhere, as some places (ie Silverstone) are indeed banning people solely due to their Russian-affiliated licence, @alianora-la-canta.

    4. Yup, this is sad… And wrong, also Israel is involved in Special ‘not a war’ operations.

      Unless he is some pay driver son of Russian oligarch..

      But if he is good, he should be welcome under a Russian flag.

  2. What are the requirements for getting any countries license? Schumacher was from Luxembourg early in his career, is it just paying a license fee to any FIA approved organisation? Or do you need citizenship? Or does each organisation choose their own rules?

    1. For international motorsport, you have to have a passport for the country under which you wish to race (even if you have to get that from a different country for paperwork reasons). Technically, if you have a passport for a country, you don’t need citizenship for that country to use it for this purpose, though as far as I’m aware, no driver has formally asked for a passport not arising from citizenship to be recognised for that purpose. Drivers with multiple passports may use any of them to compete and can change that passport whenever their licence is up for renewal (i.e. between year end and whenever you next need your FIA international licence) without extra charge. I’m not sure if it’s possible to do it during a licence’s validity period. This system was introduced in 2013 – before that, it was up to the FIA and national sporting authorities (NSAs) to determine if and how particular claims to race under a given licence were handled. (This is, incidentally, also the point where drivers became obliged to compete internationally with whatever name is in the passport they are using for the licence).

      At national level, NSAs continue to decide what does and does not count, although I imagine they would take FIA international policy into consideration.

      1. Brilliant answer! Thank you @alianora-la-canta

      2. (Clarification: “even if you have to get that” was meant to refer to the racing licence – e.g. Canadians got their Canadian racing licence from the USA at the beginning of last year without any rules needing to be changed, just with Canadian markings being put on the licence instead of USA ones. Although, thanks to English ambiguity, the grammatical reference to the passport is still accurate, since it’s the country to which the licence/passport refers, and whether the references match each other, that matters. So a refugee moving to another country due to a war that also disrupted their local FIA office’s operations could then apply for a replacement passport and licence from the country they moved to, and compete under their original nationality).

  3. Again, this guy was born in israel, so much ado about nothing. But sure this isn’t footy, the national licensing body can license anyone that satisfies the requirements.

  4. Sergey Martyn
    23rd April 2022, 11:00

    Cancel culture at full swing.
    Remember folks – kneeling for things like BLM and other gender/nationality issues quickly turns into a BLM/gender/racism stampede.
    Burning Russian passports quickly turns into the public burning Dostoevsky/Tolstoy etc. books.
    Please read some history books about 1930’s Germany…

    1. nobody has banned russian passports

    2. The FIA has not banned Russians or Belarussians from competing, just asked for a pro-peace addendum to their paperwork.

  5. I’m against discrimination at any level. I’m also against the decision to not to display the Russian flag because it’s just part of a political agenda. If we are going to held athletes accountable by the actions of their governments in case of wars then it has to be done to everyone and not only the Russians and the first people on earth that will be eligible to compete under neutral capacity are the Israelis.

    1. Agree 100%

    2. @tifoso1989 The whole point of that rule is to prevent the Russian government from getting free propaganda from drivers who are doing unrelated activities. The point is to hold drivers accountable for their own choices, in an attempt to prevent the use of what is supposed to be an apolitical pursuit for political purposes (which in turn could bring the FIA into disrepute, something the FIA is required to prevent to the extent possible under Article 1 of its own Statutes).

    3. I’m against discrimination at any level.

      I’m the same.
      I find it exceedingly two-faced for people to show such fervent support for ideals including racial equality, sexual diversity and women’s rights while simultaneously stating that anyone who identifies as Russian should have their freedoms taken away simply for that attribute alone – regardless of who they are, what they believe or what they’ve done.

  6. From bad to worse

  7. Oh so now it’s OK for him to race under an Israeli license? Did no one ask what’s happening in Isreal? If you wanna use sports as politics (which I disagree with) then use it fairly at least.

    And for those who say ‘people are dying…’ people also died and are still dying in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, kashmir, lybia, China, any country in the Arab spring and no one cared

  8. isthatglock21
    23rd April 2022, 13:22

    Hmmm…Hardly any better. Only difference is the world power backs this cause. No one will question this, but in other sports where athletes have tried using other nationalties there;s been outrage & blocked in some cases like boxing as it’s seen as a loophole.

  9. So he is not allowed to race under a Russian license because Russia attacked Ukraine, but he is allowed to race under an Israeli license? So attacking and killing Palestinian people is not an issue for FIA?

    1. Safe to say it’s not an issue for almost anyone*

      *meaning major political orgs in the west. The UN, US, EU, etc. etc. have made it clear they don’t particularly look down to that “diatribe”.

      is it right?
      are politics ever right?

      but yeah. in fact, not an issue for the FIA

Comments are closed.