FEBRUARY 20, 2023

Salo ends involvement with Russian racing

Mika Salo is no longer involved in Russian motorsport.

Mika Salo, Belgian GP 2002
© The Cahier Archive

Mika Salo is no longer involved in Russian motorsport.

The same is true for Gunther Steiner, the Haas team boss who ousted Russian Nikita Mazepin and his lucrative sponsor Uralkali at the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis.

"No more Russians," Steiner is quoted as saying in the new edition of F1's Netflix series Drive to Survive.

"I'm done with Russians until I leave this planet," he insisted.

It appears that the same is true for former F1 driver Salo, who had been recruited in a leading managerial position for the Russian motorsport development program SMP Racing.

"I finished with that a long time ago," the Finn insisted to Iltalehti newspaper. "It started to have so many problems that it was better to end it early."

Former Ferrari driver Salo, 56, thinks the Russia-Ukraine conflict has had a devastating effect on the motor racing scene in Russia.

"As far as I've been following it, they seem to just be minding their own business in Russia now. Nothing seems to come out of the effort," he said.

One prominent SMP Racing driver was Robert Shwartzman, who will this year be Ferrari's high-profile reserve driver in Formula 1.

However, he has severed all ties with SMP and even switched his racing license and official nationality from Russian to Israeli, given that he was born in Tel Aviv.

"He's still there," Salo said of Shwartzman's F1 ambitions. "He even changed to Israeli citizenship last year so he could continue.

"But it doesn't seem like much else will come of it."

As for Salo, he says he will still be an expert F1 pundit for the broadcaster Viaplay as well as occasionally serving as an FIA steward.

"I'm also following my son's racing in Japan a bit. I'm trying to give him advice," said Salo, referring to his 21-year-old son Max who will race in Japanese GT this year.

However, Salo admits that Max is unlikely to follow in his own wheel-tracks onto the F1 grid.

"It doesn't matter at all," Salo insists. "It's just nice that Max gets to race."