Haas F1 Drops Mazepin Following Russian Invasion of Ukraine

As the Russia-Ukraine conflict worsens, so does the conflict between F1 and Mazepin.

Arthur Ferridge
18th March 2022
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Haas F1 Team announced this week that they would terminate their partnerships with Russian driver Nikita Mazepin and title sponsor Uralkali following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement released to their social media channels on Saturday morning, the Indiana-based team wrote that “Haas F1 team has elected to terminate, with immediate effect, the title partnership of Uralkali, and the driver contract of Nikita Mazepin… The team is shocked and saddened by the invasion of Ukraine and wishes for a swift and peaceful end to the conflict.”

The decision came following fallout regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Many athletic organizations around the world have already banned Russian athletes, and, despite the fact that F1 would have allowed Mazepin to race under a neutral flag, Haas have chosen to cut ties.

Mazepin’s father Dmitry, who is a close friend of Vladimir Putin, largely funded his son’s F1 career through Uralkali’s sponsorship, which led to the Russian flag livery featured on Haas cars in 2021 and the start of testing in Barcelona. The team has dropped this color scheme, however, opting instead for a plain white paint job.

Nikita Mazepin responded with a statement of his own, expressing his disappointment with the situation.

“I am very disappointed to hear that my F1 contract has been terminated,” he wrote on Twitter. “While I understand the difficulties, the ruling from FIA plus my ongoing willingness to accept the conditions proposed in order to continue were completely ignored and no process was followed in this unilateral step.”

He is referring to requirements set to Russian drivers by the FIA in order to compete following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These included a ban on pro-Russia social media content, a ban on Russian flags and symbolism on liveries or racewear, and the banning of the Russian national anthem in the event of a podium finish.

As Mazepin claims to have agreed to the terms, he may be eligible to race in other FIA championships in 2022.

This is not the FIA’s first anti-Russia move, following the termination of their contract with the promoter of the Russian Grand Prix. Following this decision, it may be several years before Formula 1 returns to the Sochi Autodrom.

Some motorsport governing bodies have taken a more aggressive approach to dealing with Russian competitors. Motorsport UK recently announced a ban on all Russian drivers competing in Great Britain, meaning that had he kept his Haas drive, Mazepin would have had to watch the British Grand Prix from the sidelines.

FIM, motorcycle racing’s answer to the FIA, has also recently announced a ban on all Russian competitors.

At the time of writing, Haas are yet to announce a replacement driver, with preseason testing only two weeks away. Present frontrunners include test driver Pietro Fittipaldi, who substituted for Romain Grosjean in the final races of the 2020 season, and ex-Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi.

Nico Hulkenberg has also emerged as a dark horse contender, however, his role as test and reserve driver for Aston Martin F1 will likely stand in the way of a move.

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