Haas Drops Russian Driver Nikita Mazepin And Sponsor Ahead Of 2022 F1 Season Over Ukraine Invasion

Haas Drops Russian Driver Nikita Mazepin And Sponsor Ahead Of 2022 F1 Season Over Ukraine Invasion

In response to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Haas F1 Team has dropped Russian driver Nikita Mazepin and terminated their contract with Russian title sponsor Uralkali, of which Mazepin’s father is the deputy chairman.

After the news broke that F1 had cancelled this year’s Russian GP and terminated their contract with the promoters altogether, Haas already began removing the Uralkali branding from their facilities, social media channels, and even their cars during last week’s pre-season testing in Barcelona.

Read More: Haas Unveils The VF-22 Previewing Their Entry For The 2022 F1 Season

Haas VF-22 without Uralkali branding

Uralkali, and consequently Mazepin’s father, were known to have ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin, hence why Haas tried to distance themselves. Additionally, while the FIA announced they would still be allowing Russian drivers like Mazepin to compete under a neutral flag, Motorsport UK decided to ban them from competing in their country entirely. So while the decision to drop Mazepin and Uralkali was never officially finalized until now, it was only a matter of time before it happened.

As for who will be replacing Mazepin to race alongside teammate Mick Schumacher, the decision is still unclear, but the team certainly has options. The most obvious choice would be Haas’s reserve driver, Pietro Fittipaldi, however, there has been speculation that former Alfa Romeo driver and current Ferrari reserve Antonio Giovinazzi could also fill the seat. Regarding a replacement title sponsor, it appears to be completely up in the air.

See Also: Masi Out, Virtual Race Control In As F1 Makes Sweeping Changes To The Way It Polices The Sport

“Haas F1 Team has elected to terminate, with immediate effect, the title partnership of Uralkali, and the driver contract of Nikita Mazepin,” read a statement from Haas on Twitter. “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’s Response Avoids Any Reference To Ukraine’s Invasion

In response to the termination, Mazepin released a statement on Instagram where he expresses his disappointment about the team’s decision, noting that he understands the difficulties, but does not make any reference whatsoever about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“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 FIA plus my ongoing willingness to accept the conditions proposed in order to continue were completely ignored and no process was followed in unilateral step. To those who have tried to understand, my eternal thanks. I have treasured my time in F1 and genuinely hope we can all be together again in better times. I will have more to say in the coming days.”

The next round of pre-season testing will be taking place from March 10-12 in Bahrain before the first race of the season there on March 20, and the team is currently without a second driver or title sponsor. As such, we expect to hear an announcement of some sort in the coming days regarding their replacements.

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