Haas F1 team are reportedly removing Russian driver Nikita Mazepin from the team with several drivers in contention to replace him.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to worldwide outrage, with several governments and organizations imposing economic sanctions on the former.
Haas have Uralkali as their title sponsor with Russian oligarch Dimitri Mazepin being a majority shareholder of the company. After his country launched an offensive inside Ukrainian territory yesterday and started a war, Haas removed all Uralkali branding from their paddock buildings and cars.
Nothing official has been announced regarding their future. But considering the fact that Haas is owned by Gene Haas, who’s American and operates out of Kannapolis, it’s probable that the Russian fertilizer company will be dropped from F1 altogether.
To my fans and followers – it’s a difficult time and I am not in control over a lot of what is being said and done. I’m choosing to focus on what I CAN control by working hard and doing my best for my @HaasF1Team . My deepest thanks for your understanding and support. 🙏
— Nikita Mazepin (@nikita_mazepin) February 25, 2022
This puts Nikita Mazepin in a tough place. The 22-year old landed himself a seat in the American team after his father’s investment in the outfit. Now that Uralkali are almost out of the door, Mazepin’s position within the team is under threat.
On his social media account, Mazepin posted a message that said, “I’m not in control of what’s being said and done”. This was said in reference to the war that his country started by invading Ukraine on Thursday.
Antonio Giovinazzi rumored to be replacing Nikita Mazepin if the former is shown the door
Mazepin went on to say that he’s committed to giving his best for Haas. The Moscow born driver urged his fans and followers to understand the situation he’s in but didn’t give any guarantees that he would be in F1 for the remainder of the year.
Team principal Guenther Steiner spoke to the media on the third day of pre-season testing about the situation within his team as of now. “Not everything depends on us here. There are governments involved,” he said.
Haas’ Russian driver Nikita Mazepin has been pulled from the lunchtime news conference at pre-season testing. Haas team boss Gunther Steiner is due to speak to the media at 1100 UK time
— Andrew Benson (@andrewbensonf1) February 25, 2022
“And I have no power over them. I think we need to see also the situation and how it develops in Ukraine.” He then insisted that the team won’t make any hasty decisions regarding their future.
“I am not going to do it (talk about Mazepin or Uralkali) today. We made the decision yesterday with our team partners that (removing the Uralkali branding) is what we’re going to do,” he concluded.
If Mazepin does end up leaving Haas, the likes of Antonio Giovinazzi, Pietro Fittipaldi and Kevin Magnussen are rumored to replace him.