Daniil Kvyat will race with an Italian license and ‘il Tricolore’ on his overalls as he races at Le Mans with Lamborghini.
Currently, Russian drivers face a barrage of restrictions when racing in European-based international competitions.
F1’s governing FIA even requires Russians to essentially denounce their country over the Ukraine conflict with the signing of a ‘driver commitment’ letter.
“As a functionary of Russian motorsport, I would like our drivers to have the opportunity to drive and work without restrictions,” former Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin, now a top official at the Russian automobile federation, said.
“Sport, it seems to me, should always remain outside of politics,” he told RTL.
But now, it emerges that former Red Bull and Alpha Tauri driver Kvyat, 28, will essentially take on a full Italian identity as he signs as a works prototype driver for Lamborghini.
“Because of the Ukraine war,” explained Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Tobias Gruner, “F1 teams’ interest in Russian drivers became limited.
“Kvyat will be at Lamborhini under an Italian racing license to avoid the sanctions against Russian athletes,” he added.
“He moved from Russia to Italy early in his karting career and he speaks the language fluently.”
Kvyat confirms: “I grew up in Italy so this commitment makes me particularly proud. It’s a huge honour.”
Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport said Kvyat’s move to Italy occurred when he was just 11 “to cultivate his great passion for racing”.
Kvyat was then “shortly followed by the family”, who settled in Rome.
The sports newspaper said it is even possible that the Italian national anthem would now play for Kvyat in the event of a sports car win.