Apr.24 (GMM) Robert Shwartzman has managed to sidestep widespread western sanctions against Russia by keeping his Formula 1 test driver role at Ferrari.
Former Haas driver Nikita Mazepin, his sponsor Uralkali, and dozens of other Russian athletes had their careers interrupted amid the conflict with Ukraine.
Ferrari even put its deal with Russian sponsor Kaspersky on hold, although the Maranello team argued that the Moscow based cybersecurity company is in fact “international” rather than purely Russian.
As for 22-year-old Shwartzman, a Ferrari test driver who was slated to contest some Friday morning sessions with the fabled team this season, he looks to have dodged the sanctions altogether.
That is despite the fact that he is also backed by the Russian motorsport program SMP Racing, an offshoot of the Russian bank SMP whose chief Boris Rotenberg is said to have close ties with Russiah president Vladimir Putin.
Moreover, Shwartzman customarily displayed the Russian flag alongside his name on his overalls and single seaters, even though Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto insisted at Imola that the driver was in fact “born in Israel”.
“He’s got an Israeli passport,” Binotto insisted, even though Shwartzman was raised in St Petersburg.
“In terms of (racing) licence, it’s not a Russian one,” the team principal explained.
“And he interrupted any agreement he got with Russian companies. So at the moment he is still our test driver and he will remain as that,” Binotto said.
“If we have any opportunities to let him drive, we will probably let him drive.”