Sergey Zlobin also happens to be the Sporting Director of SMP Racing – that his son, Nikita, has been chosen for the Russian Driver Development Programme may, or may not, be purely coincidental.
At the age of 16, it is certainly far too early in Nikita’s career to lay assumptions of nepotism when the teenager has yet to have the opportunity to showcase his talents at a competitive level.
As an aside, the elder Zlobin has enjoyed a reasonable racing career of his own over the years. After a few seasons in Russian Formula 3, the 43-year-old contested several rounds of Euro Formula 3000, while also undertaking temporary testing duties with Minardi.
However his Formula One opportunity fell apart very quickly when the deal with Russian state backer, Gazprom, fell apart. With the money nowhere to be seen, Minardi appeared to have little inclination to keep the Russian on board…
Following his blip on the Formula One radar, Zlobin moved onto GT racing and occasional LMP2 competition at main events, such as the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Unfortunately for Zlobin, any thoughts of a full-time racing schedule in the latter part of the last decade came to a halt in 2007 when his Mercedes G500 machine was car-bombed in Moscow. Thankfully, the explosion was muted and contained to the underbody of the car, resulting in “only” minor juries to his legs.
He returned to racing in 2011, eventually taking a podium in the 24 Hours of Barcelona a year later and competing full-time in the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series with his own SMP Racing. In January, Zlobin came home 4th in the GTD Class of the Daytona 24 Hour Race.