Haas F1 team splits with Mazepin, Uralkali after Ukraine invasion

The Haas Formula 1 team has announced it has terminated its contract with Nikita Mazepin and title sponsor Uralkali with immediate effect as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Nikita Mazepin, Haas F1 Team

On 24 February, Russian forces ordered by president Vladimir Putin began an invasion on neighbouring Ukraine, which has so far spanned a week .

The invasion has been condemned by Western nations, with sanctions being imposed from countries worldwide on Russia.

Sporting authorities have also moved in recent days to ban Russian athletes and sporting events, though motorsport governing body the FIA has only so far banned Russian and Belarusian drivers from competing under their national flags.

During the Barcelona pre-season F1 test, when war broke out in Ukraine, Haas moved to strip its cars of Uralkali branding and Mazepin’s future remained unclear given his family ties to Putin.

But on Saturday morning, Haas announced it had parted ways with both Russian chemical giant Uralkali and Mazepin.

A short statement from the team read: “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.”

Haas is yet to make any further updates on who will replace Mazepin going forward, or what its plans will be in terms of the upcoming Bahrain pre-season test next week.

Nikita Mazepin, Haas VF-22

Nikita Mazepin, Haas VF-22

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

In a recent interview with US journalist Bob Varsha for Speed City Broadcasting, Haas team boss Gunther Steiner said Pietro Fittipaldi would be first in line should Mazepin be unable to race.

“If Nikita couldn’t drive for one or another reason, the first call would go to Pietro,” said Steiner.

“Obviously, he [has been] with us for a few years, and then we would see what we do next.

“But I mean Pietro is always around with us for a reason.

“The last years, we needed a reserve driver, having COVID around, so he is always around.

“He knows the team, he knows the car to jump in for one day to the other. There is nobody better than Pietro around at the moment.”

Fittipaldi, grandson of double F1 world champion Emerson, made two starts in 2020 at the Sakhir and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix replacing Romain Grosjean at Haas following the Frenchman’s horrifying fireball crash in Bahrain.

He saw the chequered flag in both outings, finishing 17th in the Sakhir GP and 19th in Abu Dhabi.

Earlier this week, F1 also announced it had cancelled its contract with the Russian GP, having initially stated the 2022 event at Sochi could not take place under current circumstances.

Motorsport UK also announced a blanket ban on Russian and Belarusian licence holders from competing in Britain in 2022.

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