Daniil Kvyat (left) and Vitaly Petrov
- Four Russian drivers have competed in Formula 1, with Vitaly Petrov being the first in 2010.
- Daniil Kvyat had the longest F1 driver career among the Russians on this list.
- Nikita Mazepin is another Russian driver, but the Haas F1 team has dropped him from their roster.
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Before Nikita Mazepin made his Formula 1 debut, the sport was no stranger to Russian drivers.
Given the country’s political climate (then and now), many sporting codes were reluctant to engage with the country at the event level and sign contracts with its athletes.
When that mindset changed, the first Russian driver entered the sport in 2010. Since then, four drivers from the former Soviet Union have entered F1, the latest being Mazepin.
And as we know, Mazepin left the sport unceremoniously after the Haas team terminated his contracts and those of title sponsor Uralkali. This decision follows Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine and declare war on its neighbour.
Vitaly Petrov: 2010-2012
Many fans will quickly remember Vitaly Petrov preventing Fernando Alonso from winning the 2010 F1 championship in Abu Dhabi. And sadly, that’s pretty much the only real highlight of this Russian’s F1 career.
Petrov made his debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix, racing for the Renault team. He didn’t have the best first season, but it was way better than what the others had to endure. That year, in 2010, his best result was a fifth place in the Hungarian GP and a 13th place in the championship standings after the end of the season in Abu Dhabi.
Renault, now called Lotus-Renault, retained Petrov for the 2011 season, with the driver kicking off the new season with a third-place finish at the Australian GP. At the end of 2011, Petrov and Lotus-Renault parted ways and the Russian signed with Caterham for the upcoming season. Unfortunately Caterham were not a competitive team and Petrov failed to score a single point that year.
He was out of training and out of F1 at the end of the 2012 season.
Daniel Kvyat: 2014-2017, 2019-2020
Daniil Kvyat is perhaps the best-known Russian F1 driver – after Mazepin, of course. After being under the Red Bull banner for his entire F1 career, Kvyat started with Toro Rosso, followed by a stint with the ‘big’ team, Red Bull Racing.
In his first race for Toro Rosso, the 2014 Australian GP, Kvyat came home in an impressive ninth place. Considering Toro Rosso’s performance back then, the result was a massive achievement, putting the youngster in the spotlight immediately. In 2015 he was promoted to Red Bull Racing to replace the late Sebastian Vettel. In Hungary that year, he took the second step of the podium and finished the season in seventh place overall.
2016 was a torrid year for Kvyat. At the end of the fourth race, the Russian GP, his home race, he was demoted to Toro Rosso after a series of poor results and on-track skirmishes. He swapped seats with Max Verstappen, but his career took a plunge from which he would not recover. At the end of the 2017 season, Red Bull opted not to re-sign him for the following year, instead giving him a year to rekindle his passion for motorsport and hone his skills.
It seemed to work, as he was back at Toro Rosso for the 2019 season. That year he finished the German GP in third place after a fantastic strategy, in grueling conditions, which proved decisive. Toro Rosso changed its name to AlphaTauri for the 2020 season, and Kvyat was retained alongside Pierre Gasly.
The team didn’t renew Kvyat’s contract when it ran its course in 2020.
Sergei Sirotkin: 2018
If you don’t remember Sergey Sirotkin or haven’t heard of him, that’s fine. This Russian rider only competed for one season for the Williams team and managed to score a point for his season’s effort at the Italian GP. At the end of 2018, following uninspiring performances, he was sacked by the team and replaced by Robert Kubica.