At approximately 1 am PST, Haas F1 confirmed in an official statement that it is terminating Nikita Mazepin’s contract and dropping Uralkali as its title sponsor. As of this time, Nikita Mazepin will not drive in the 2022 F1 season.
Why did Nikita Mazepin get terminated by Haas F1?
“Haas F1 Team has elected to terminate, with immediate effect, the title partnership of Uralkali and the driver contract of Nikita Mazepin,” read the statement. “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.”
When Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his military to invade Ukraine, political and social leaders responded by condemning the move. Soon there was pressure on sports leagues of all types to take a stand against Russia to end relationships with any Russian investors.
Haas F1’s former sponsor Uralkali is a fertilizer company partially owned by Dimitry Mazepin, Nikita Mazepin’s father. Dimitry is a billionaire businessman who has direct ties to Putin.
It has been speculated that Uralkali’s money is the main reason why Nikita secured his seat at Haas F1 in the first place. Many fans felt that Mazepin didn’t deserve the seat in the first place.
Ukraine asked the FIA to ban all Russian drivers
Ukraine’s motor racing federation reached out to the FIA president, asking him to support Ukraine by effectively banning all Russian drivers from all FIA racing, including F1.
The FIA fell short of that and instead revealed that it would ban Russian drivers from racing under the country’s flag or displaying any official association with Russia.
We speculate that the FIA did not want to punish all Russian drivers for the actions of their government and likely stopped short of banning drivers to preserve the possibility for a future relationship with the country once the conflict ends.
Nikita Mazepin has remained a controversial driver since starting in F1
In December 2020, Nikita was at the center of a massive scandal when a video surfaced showing the driver groping a woman in a car. Some fans felt that the footage showed Mazepin committing sexual assault, and #WeSayNoToMazepin began to trend on Twitter along with an online petition urging Haas to cut him and the FIA to ban him from F1.
The video followed several incidents of Mazepin’s antics in F2, including causing crashes and even punching a fellow driver.
Ultimately, Mazepin faced no penalty from the FIA, and Haas F1 elected to keep the driver. Nikita released a statement via Twitter apologizing for the video, but the damage was seemingly done.
How did Mazepin respond to being terminated by Haas F1?
— Nikita Mazepin (@nikita_mazepin) March 5, 2022
Shortly after Haas F1’s announcement Nikita Mazepin released a statement on Twitter. In the statement, Nikita said he “understands the difficulties” that the FIA is facing.
However, he also said that his “willingness to accept the conditions proposed in order to continue were completely ignored.”
He ended the statement by saying he will “have more to say in the coming days.” Is it possible that the Mazepin family will mount a lawsuit against the FIA and Haas F1?
Depending on the details of the contract Uralkali signed with Haas, it is possible.
How F1 responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Formula 1 has terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoterhttps://t.co/67IUOS3nhl
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 3, 2022
During the second day of testing in Barcelona, Spain, Sebastian Vettel said he would boycott the Russian GP if it continued. 2021 Champion Max Verstappen also spoke out against the race, saying, “When a country is at war, it is not correct to race there.”
Haas F1 announced later that it would remove all Uralkali’s branding and Russian flag colors from its car on the final day of testing in Barcelona.
In response to driver concerns and the Ukraine invasion, F1 released a statement saying that it would “monitor the situation very closely.”
Eventually, F1 followed that statement saying that it was “impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances.” However, some believed the wording of that statement left the door open for the race to resume if Russia ended its attack and tensions eased before the race date.
However, according to some reports, Russia’s military has only become more aggressive and has even attacked civilian targets.
Following that escalation, F1 released a third statement announcing that it had officially canceled its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter.
Who will take over for Nikita Mazepin at Haas F1?
With Mazepin out, Haas F1 will need to fill his seat before the 2022 season begins. The team has not made any official statements on a replacement driver, but there are rumors that Haas test driver Pietro Fittipaldi will take over. Pietro is the grandson of two-time Formula 1 champion Emmerson Fittipaldi.
If Fittipaldi does take over for Mazepin, we do not think it will be for a long-term contract. Haas will likely seek a driver who can bring sponsorship money to the team as Mazepin did with Uralkali.
Gene Haas (Haas F1’s owner) can likely fund the team himself in the interim, or perhaps the team will have its budget cut severely until it can land a new sponsor.
The next few weeks (or longer) will be significant in the future of the Haas F1 Team, and rumors are sure to persist until this ordeal settles.
In the meantime, let us know what you think about this situation. Do you think it was right for Haas F1 to drop Nikita Mazepin? Who do you think should take his seat? What track do you think should replace Russia on the 2022 F1 calendar?
Let us know in the comments below or reach out on Twitter at @MotorworldHype.