MARCH 11, 2022
F1's politicised Russian TV axe slammed
Russian fans of Formula 1 are today hearing the news that they are not welcome to watch either live or televised coverage of their favourite sport.
According to well-known Match TV commentator Alexey Popov, Formula 1 has "unilaterally" torn up the contract with the Russian broadcaster as a private sector sanction due to the Ukraine conflict.
Popov's fellow commentator Vladimir Bashmakov said: "For the first time since 1992, Formula 1 will not be on Russian television.
"I'm getting a lot of questions like 'how can I watch now?' But I can't answer that at all."
Indeed, F1 has also scratched Russian territories from access to the sport's official live streaming service.
Popov said: "We had suspicions, and today they were confirmed.
"Without any warning, Formula 1 unilaterally terminated the contract which, let me remind you, Match TV had for several more seasons.
"I don't know what to say. There will be no Formula 1 on Russian television. So I don't know how we are going to continue to follow it."
Match TV's Formula 1 producer Alexander Tashchin confirmed: "Unfortunately, the 2022 season will not be shown on our TV channel, despite many years of fulfilment of all financial and marketing obligations on our part.
"We regret this politicised step on the part of our Western colleagues," he added.
Mercedes driver George Russell, meanwhile, confirmed Nikita Mazepin's claim that while very few fellow racers messaged him following his ousting from Haas, he was among them.
"There was nothing about politics in the message," Russell said in Bahrain on Thursday.
"I think our views about what is happening in the world are the same. But I have known Nikita for a long time, and regardless of his connections, he is someone who like me dreamed of Formula 1 all his career and achieved it.
"Now that dream is gone for obvious reasons. I just told him, 'Don't let your head drop'. There's nothing political in that, just a personal message," the Briton insisted.
Another development is that Ferrari has removed the name of its Russian sponsor Kaspersky from its car in Bahrain.
"We at Ferrari believe that sport should send a clear message in support of the Ukrainian people," a spokesman confirmed.
Additionally, drivers for the Russian program SMP Racing did not sign the FIA's mandatory pledge in support of Ukraine, and therefore Alexander Smolyar has been expelled from the FIA Formula 3 season this year.
"I support the decision of SMP Racing to stop the European program due to the unprecedented requirements that the FIA has placed on any Russian driver as a condition for access to international competitions," he said.