Haas Formula One team has terminated the contract of Russian driver Nikita Mazepin and title sponsor Uralkali.
The decision was made in the wake of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and means no Russians will register to drive in Formula One before the new season.
“The Haas F1 Team has chosen to terminate, with immediate effect, the Uralkali title partnership, and the driver’s contract with Nikita Mazepin,” the team said in a statement. “As with the rest of the Formula One community, the team is shocked and saddened by the invasion of Ukraine and wishes a speedy and peaceful end to the conflict.”
The FIA had kept open the possibility of Mazepin racing in F1 this year when it announced earlier this week that Russian and Belarusian drivers would be allowed to continue competing in international motorsport as long as they were racing under a neutral flag. It agreed not to express any support for Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
However, Haas announced on Saturday that the deal with Mazepin and Uralcalli had been terminated, with the team saying news regarding a replacement driver would follow next week.
An hour after the news spread, Mazepin issued a statement through his accounts on social media.
“I am very disappointed to hear that my contract in Formula One has expired,” Mazepin said. “While I understand the difficulties, the ruling by the FIA as well as my continued desire to accept the terms proposed in order to continue were ignored, and no process was followed in this unilateral step.
“To those who have tried to understand, my eternal thanks. I cherish my time in Formula One and I sincerely hope we can get back together again in better times. I will have more to say in the coming days.”
Mazbin joined Hass at the beginning of 2021 as part of a sponsorship deal with the Russian fertilizer company Uralkali, which is partly owned by his father Dmitry through his company Uralchem.
Dmitriy Mazbin was one of the top businessmen who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow last week to discuss the sanctions imposed on the country in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.
The Uralkali deal helped Haas secure its finances ahead of the 2021 season and resulted in a title sponsorship agreement that saw the car painted in the colors of the Russian flag.
On the final day of this year’s first preparatory test in Barcelona last week, Uralkali livery and branding were removed from the car, although Mazepin continues to drive the VF22 as planned.
Speaking on the final day of testing last week, once the color changes, Haas team boss Guenther Steiner said the team would be able to survive without the Mazepins money.
“We’re fine financially,” Steiner said. “It has no application to the team, how we manage it, how we do, how we plan for the season.
“There are more ways to get funding. So there’s no problem with that.”
F1 announced on Thursday that it has closed its deal to hold a race in Russia, which means the country will not host a grand prix for the foreseeable future.
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