Max Verstappen might have destroyed his opposition for the Formula One drivers’ world championship last season, but that hasn’t stopped one former driver claiming it isn’t valid.
It’s over 13 months ago that Verstappen was crowned as world champion for the first time, beating Lewis Hamilton in the final race of the season.
The controversy of that victory continued to hang over last year, even well into the season, with fans of Hamilton still calling for the decision to be overturned.
Red Bull being found guilty of breaking the spending cap in 2021 didn’t help put the issue to bed, with Christian Horner’s team eventually given a fine.
Whilst questions of the previous year were still around, Verstappen must have been extremely happy that 2022 went far more smoothly for him.
The Dutch driver won his second title in-a-row but this time it wasn’t even close, beating runner up Charles Leclerc by nearly 150 points.
The closest he even got to controversy was late in the season, with a crash with Hamilton and a decision not to let teammate Sergio Perez past him, but generally it was plain sailing.
However, now former F1 driver Vitaly Petrov, who raced from 2010 to 2012, has claimed that no championships that didn’t allow Russian’s to compete should be valid, meaning Verstappen’s wouldn’t be.
“Without Russia, I don’t consider a single champion or Olympic title to be valid,” the former Renault driver told Russian media.
“We have to stop being afraid of our people and bring Russia back into world sport.
“For me, it’s not acceptable. I don’t understand at all this absurdity of imposing certain opinions on people. We can use the current situation as an impetus for the development of motorsport, training young people to guide them further into the future.”
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, sports had to decide themselves how they would deal with athletes from the country.
Haas driver Nikita Mazepin was removed as a driver from his team after the team decided to get rid of lead sponsor Uralkali, whose key shareholder is the driver’s dad.
The lack of Mazepin was hardly of detriment to the competitive nature of the sport last year, considering how well he did in his debut season in 2021.
His highest finish in any race was 14th in Azerbaijan, in a race where only 16 finished and Hamilton was one of those behind him after a late mistake.
He finished 21st in the drivers’ championship, despite the fact that there was only 20 regular drivers, with Robert Kubica in for two races.
F1 also decided to end their contract with the Russian Grand Prix, which meant there was no race going on in Sochi, and it hasn’t returned for 2023.
Other sports reacted to the war in different ways, with UEFA and FIFA both banning Russia from international games, including World Cup qualifiers and the tournament proper.
Tennis continued to allow Russian and Belarusian players but Wimbledon decided to ban them, leading to the LTA following suit in their warm up tournaments.