F1: Nikita Mazepin hits out at Haas for sacking him

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‘I DIDN’T deserve it’: Russian driver Nikita Mazepin hits out at Haas for sacking him even though he was allowed to race, and reveals he found out about his dismissal through the media… and the oligarch’s son still wants to return to F1


Nikita Mazepin has hit out at his former Haas team for ‘firing him’ on the eve of the new Formula One season.

The Russian driver had been poised to line up for the team for a second straight season alongside Mick Schumacher before the conflict involving Ukraine and Russia broke out.

With pressure on sporting governing bodies around the world to ban Russian competitors following the country’s invasion of Ukraine, the FIA surprisingly compromised to allow Russian and Belarusian competitors able to compete as neutral athletes.

However, when Motorsport UK declared no Russian linked competitors were able to race in Britain, it effectively banned Mazepin from the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Shortly after Haas then terminated the 23-year-old’s contract with immediate effect.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Mazepin revealed his fury over the way he was dismissed, claiming he felt safe in the team after the first pre-season test in Barcelona until he was suddenly fired.

According to journalist CezaryGutowski, he said: ‘First of all, I want to say that I understand that the world is not like it was two weeks ago. It was an extremely painful time for both you and me. People who are not here see it from a different angle. We in Russia and Ukraine see it’s on many other levels.

‘I was planning to start as a neutral athlete. The FIA allowed it. I had no problem with that, but the night before my contract was terminated, additional directives came out and as we started to analyse them, I got a message the next morning that the contract was canceled. I was fired. 

Formula One team Haas has terminated the contract of Russian driver Nikita Mazepin  

The team had removed the Russian sponsor's  branding from its car on the final day of Barcelona testing last week

The team had removed the Russian sponsor’s  branding from its car on the final day of Barcelona testing last week

‘I deserved more support from the team. I was relieved to see that the FIA allowed us to start in neutral colors. I was hoping to drive. Then everything changed and I lost the dream I had been working for for 18 years.’

‘I heard about my Haas sacking, like everyone else, from the press. I didn’t deserve it. I was very disappointed with how it played out. I hadn’t been worried since I left Barcelona. 

‘Formula One is not a closed chapter for me. I will be ready to race in case there is an opportunity to return. I wish all the best to the drivers who will replace me. They have nothing to do with the existing situation.’

Haas also terminated their sponsorship deal with Uralkali - owned by Mazepin's father, Dmitry

Haas also terminated their sponsorship deal with Uralkali – owned by Mazepin’s father, Dmitry

Billionaire oligarch Dmitry Mazepin has close links to Russian president Putin (left)

Billionaire oligarch Dmitry Mazepin has close links to Russian president Putin (left)

The American-owned team also dropped sponsors Uralkali, a Russian fertiliser company part-owned by Mazepin’s oligarch father Dmitry, 53, an associate of Vladimir Putin.

It was impossible for Haas to ignore that Mazepin’s father, worth a reputed £5billion, had strong Putin links. He attended a meeting with the Russian president following the invasion of Ukraine.

On Mazepin’s initial dismissal Haas said the terminations were with ‘immediate effect’, adding: ‘The team is shocked by the invasion of Ukraine and wishes for a swift end to the conflict.’

Mazepin took to social media to express his frustration and disappointment with the decision

Mazepin took to social media to express his frustration and disappointment with the decision

Mazepin also stated he would set up a foundation for athletes who lost the opportunity to pursue their careers for political reasons ‘only because of their passports’. 

With the money of the former Haas sponsor – Uralkali. Financial, legal and psychological assistance. The name of the Mazepin Foundation is ‘we compete as one’, a slight deviation from the F1 initiative ‘We race as one’. The foundation is set to start by assisting the paralympic team.

Mazepin had already revealed his disappointment over his dismissal via an Instagram post, claiming: ‘I am very disappointed. The ruling from the FIA plus my ongoing willingness to accept the conditions proposed were completely ignored, and no process was followed in this unilateral step.’

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