Nikita Mazepin and his future in F1 is under serious threat as Automobile Federation of Ukraine calls for Russian licenses to be suspended.
The ongoing sanctions against Russia have found their way into the world of F1 as well. As soon as the country launched offensive in Ukrainian territory, Haas wasted no time in removing all Uralkali (a Russian fertilizer company) branding from their cars and paddock homes.
Whether they will be a part of Haas this season or not, has not been officially announced yet. However, team principal Guenther Steiner admitted that their removal is a real possibility.
Uralkali is owned by Russian billionaire and oligarch Dimitri Mazepin. His son Nikita, occupies one of two seats at the American team as of now. However, his future in the outfit is under serious threat, particularly if Uralkali leaves.
🚨 | A request made by the Automobile Federation of Ukraine to the FIA:
“Prohibit holders of all licenses used by the RAF [Russian Automobile Federation]… from competitions outside the Russian Federation”.
If implemented, this would directly impact Mazepin.
— FormulaRacers (@formularacers_) February 28, 2022
Earlier today, news broke out out the Automobile Federation of Ukraine has asked the FIA to suspend all the Russian license holders. In F1, Mazepin is the only Russian. So, if FIA decide to grant this request, Haas will be left with no choice other than dropping him.
Leonid Kostyuchenko, who is the FAU president, called for his FIA counterpart Mohammed Ben Sulayem to take swift action against Belarusian and Russian drivers. The Emirati has since offered his full support to the country.
Who will replace Nikita Mazepin at Haas?
If Nikita Mazepin is indeed removed ahead of the start of the campaign, Haas will have to make a quick decision as to who they want instead. Pietro Fittipaldi has been a reserve driver for the outfit for four seasons now and Steiner insists that he’ll be the first choice.
“Pietro is always around with us for this reason,” said Steiner. “In the last years we needed a reserve driver with having Covid around. He’s always around, he knows the team, he knows the car. To jump in from one day to the other. There is nobody better than Pietro around at the moment.”
However, according to multiple reports, Haas also have Antonio Giovinazzi in their shortlist. The Italian driver was left without an F1 seat after 2021, and is currently competing in Formula-E.
According to rumours, Nikita Mazepin may be replaced by Pietro Fittipaldi for the #F1 2021 season.
— Decalspotters (@decalspotters) December 21, 2020
In spite of not having a seat, he’s still a part of the Ferrari academy. On top of that, he’s a reserve driver for the Scuderia and since Haas work closely with them, Giovinazzi could be given an opportunity.
Other candidates rumored to be considered include former Haas driver Kevin Magnussen.