Alexander Smolyar has lost his seat at MP Motorsport ahead of the FIA Formula 3 Championship season opener in Bahrain.
Smolyar is the highest-profile driver on the Road to F1 pathway to lose their seat due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The FIA allows Russian drivers to compete in international competition under a neutral FIA flag.
SMP Racing have supported the careers of drivers including Smolyar, Robert Shwartzman, Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin. They have withdrawn from international motorsport, saying they “will not be able to take part in international racing tournaments.”
The SMP Racing programme was founded by the head of the SMP Bank, Boris Rotenberg, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Drivers cannot display Russian or Belarusian symbols, colours or flags publicly or on social media. SMP traditionally features the colours of the Russian flag on its driver suits and liveries.
Drivers must pledge “not [to] express any support (direct or indirect) for the Russian and/or Belarusian activities in respect of Ukraine.”
Former Red Bull Racing driver Daniil Kvyat has lost his seat with G-Drive in the FIA World Endurance Championship. The Russian team withdrew its entry ahead of the season prologue at Sebring. Last year’s FIA Formula 2 Championship runner-up and 2019 FIA F3 champion Shwartzman’s future is unclear at time of writing.
Alexander Sergeyevich Zhemchuznikov, SMP Racing’s General Director said “Our drivers see victories on the track not only as their personal successes, but also as the successes of the whole of Russia.
“Therefore, we regard the requirements voiced by the FIA as extremely stringent and cannot recommend that our drivers comply with them.”
Smolyar supported his backers’ perspective, despite it meaning he loses a chance at a third F3 campaign in 2022.
“I will not compete in FIA F3 [or] any international racing series this year,” he said.
“I stand with the decision of SMP Racing to stop its European programme as a result of unprecedented requirements that [the] FIA put on any Russian driver as a condition for access to international competitions.”