Russia is BANNED from sport, so how can F1 race there?
F1 is back in Russia this week, despite a sports ban
During Formula One's summer break, I had to find some way to entertain myself - so I watched the Olympics.
But whilst watching various sports (dressage became a firm favourite), I noticed Russian athletes were competing under the name ROC and their flag had changed from white, blue, and red to a picture of the Olympic flame-coloured in white, blue, and red stripes of the national flag above the five Olympic rings.
Now many of you will know that Russia was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency from all international sporting competitions for four years after tampering with anti-doping data submitted as part of the investigation into a state-sponsored drugs programme.
But when you look at Formula One, this ruling doesn't quite add up, as F1 hosts a Grand Prix in Sochi and two drivers from Russia compete in the series.
So why is Formula One supposedly exempt from these rules?
In case you're not aware of the doping scandal, in 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency banned the Russian Federation from all major sporting events for four years.
The ban came after it was found that Russia was tampering with anti-doping data submitted as part of an investigation into a state-sponsored drug programme.
In 2020 the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the ban period to two years following an appeal by Russia.
While athletes from Russia are allowed to take part in international competitions, there are several rules.
This includes competing under a neutral flag and a ban of the national anthem at official venues.
However, Formula One and Russia have several ongoing ties.
Two drivers, Nikita Mazepin who competes under Haas F1, and Daniil Kvyat, who is a reserve driver for Alpine, are both from Russia.
Kvyat was able to use the Russian flag in 2020 as the Court of Arbitration for Sport's ruling only started for F1 in 2021.
But for this season and the next, Mazepin is prohibited from racing under his country's flag or name.
Hence why you'll see Mazepin classified under the acronym of RAF, which stands for Russian Automotive Federation, and on F1's graphics, a white flag next to Mazepin's name.
Rules also state Mazepin is banned from using national emblems, flags, or symbols, including on his kit.
Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking, 'Lottie have you seen the Haas livery and overalls recently?'
And yes, I know, it looks like a giant Russian flag, but it isn't against the rules, as athletes are allowed to use colours of the flag.
But Russia is also forbidden from hosting world championship events related to a World Anti-Doping Agency signatory, which the FIA is.
And where hosting rights have already been awarded to them, the relevant governing body should withdraw them.
This is a slight issue, given that this week, F1 heads to Sochi for the Russian Grand Prix.
But again there is an exception, as the Court of Arbitration for Sport's ruling does not affect the event reportedly due to the race not being cancellable due to contractual clauses.
This matches a statement from 2019 by the promoters of the Russian GP, who said the World Anti-Doping Agency's ban could not be applied to their deal as it was signed with F1 in 2010, five years before their investigation.
This contract is in place until 2025, and it seems unlikely F1 would withdraw the event given their recent announcement that the Russian GP will move home in 2023 to a new purpose-built circuit just outside of St Petersburg.
And people say sport and politics don't mix!