Following the brutal Russian military invasion of Ukraine, the Haas Formula 1 team has terminated its title sponsorship with Russian fertilizer company Uralkali, as well as racing driver Nikita Mazepin’s contract. The American team confirmed early Saturday morning that the Russian will not drive for the team in 2022.
The final day of F1’s pre-season test in Barcelona saw Mazepin driving Haas’ car without the Uralkali branding, which featured the Russian flag colors. The company’s branding had also been stripped from the team’s motorhome at the track. At the time, team principal Günther Steiner said that the team would be in talks the following week to decide how to proceed, acknowledging there was a possibility of Mazepin losing his drive.
Russian drivers have not been banned from FIA competition, however, they would have to compete under a neutral FIA flag and display no national symbols of Russia or Belarus. Last week, the Russian Grand Prix contract was terminated by F1 and several motorsport federations, including Motorsport U.K. (which has implications for any Russian athletes at the British Grand Prix) banning Russian or Belarusian drivers from competing at all.
At that point, it wasn’t looking good for Mazepin’s chances of keeping his drive, especially as Dmitry Mazepin (his father) is one of the oligarchs with particularly close ties to Vladimir Putin—so this isn’t a case where he could plead some sort of accident of nationality.
The statement sent to media this morning reads: “Haas F1 Team has elected to terminate, with immediate effect, the title partnership of Uralkali and the driver contract of Nikita Mazepin. As with the rest of the Formula 1 community, the team is shocked and saddened by the invasion of Ukraine and wishes for a swift and peaceful end to the conflict.”
Mazepin posted his own message to social media, saying that he’d been willing to follow a new FIA conduct agreement for Russian drivers, including a ban on showing any support for the invasion of Ukraine.
Mazepin’s full statement read: “Dear fans and followers, I am very disappointed to hear that my F1 contract has been terminated. While I understand the difficulties, the ruling from the 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. To those who have tried to understand, my eternal thanks. have treasured my time in F1 and genuinely hope we can all be together again in the better times. I will have more to say in the coming days.”
Haas added that it expects to confirm its replacement driver “early next week,” which is assumed to be Brazilian Pietro Fittipaldi, who drove for the team in two races at the end of the 2021 season following Romain Grosjean’s horrific Bahrain accident.
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