Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022

Mazepin may lose Haas drive as team will consider future of Uralkali deal next week

2022 F1 season

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Nikita Mazepin may lose his drive at Haas as the team revealed it will make a decision on the future of its Uralkali sponsorship next week.

Haas removed Uralkali’s logos and the Russian flag colour scheme from its cars overnight following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Team principal Guenther Steiner said the team moved swiftly when news of the invasion broke yesterday. He described how he immediately raised the matter with team owner Gene Haas.

“Obviously in the morning when I got up and looked at the news there were a few words there which I better not say here,” Steiner said in response to a question from RaceFans. “Then I went straight to talk to Gene about it and then we got in contact with our other partners and made a decision.

“As you saw we reacted very quick to it so you can imagine it was very straight talks. Obviously you need to keep the people involved, the headquarters of Haas Automation is in California, they are nine hours behind so I had to wait until I could get in touch with the board of Haas Automation as well because they are the biggest partner on our car and speak with the CEO there as well to talk it through.

“But then we were ready in the afternoon and we just wanted to get the test day over and then we were ready to do what we do because we reacted quickly – we are a small team, which is sometimes good, we have direct lines of communication and we just executed them.”

The team will now consider next week whether to continue its association with Uralkali. “We have to sort out all the legal stuff, which I cannot speak, about next week,” said Steiner. “We will work through it next week.”

Steiner stressed the team is prepared to withstand the loss of Uralkali, which is its title sponsor and a hugely significant contributor to the team’s budget. “Financially we are okay,” he said. “It has no [implication] on the team, how we are running it or how we’re doing, how we planned this season. There is more ways to get the funding so that there’s no issue with that one.”

He confirmed the future of Mazepin, who is the son of Uralkali chief Dmitry Mazepin, is among the matters that “needs to be resolved.”

“Not everything depends on us here what is happening,” he explained. “There is governments involved and I have no power over them and I think we need to see also the situation, how it develops in Ukraine.”

Steiner confirmed the team has not had any contact with the United States government, which is among those bringing sanctions against Russia over the invasion. “Up to now the official sanctions from any of the governments have no influence on our business,” he said.

Mazepin is “putting a tough face on it”, said Steiner. “I mean, for sure it bothers him because it’s his home country. There is no guarantees anywhere.

“As I said before, we just need to see how this all develops, where it goes. There is more than F1 team involved here there are governments involved in this one so I have no idea what is coming from that side.”

In a statement on social media, Mazepin said: “It’s a difficult time and I am not in control over a lot of what is being said and done. I’m choosing to focus on what I can control by working hard and doing my best for my Haas F1 team. My deepest thanks for your understanding and support.”

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93 comments on “Mazepin may lose Haas drive as team will consider future of Uralkali deal next week”

  1. That’s a difficult position for HAAS, an ugly and tragic situation, it must be said though that one less pay driver can only be good for the sport.

    1. @twentyseven whoever comes in will also be a pay driver. Probably still better than Mazepin, mind.

      1. @hahostolze Or just Pietro Fittipaldi who’s already in the team.

      2. @hahostolze True, it’s something I really don’t like about F1, could they not introduce a rule that the drivers must not be associated with sponsorship? I guess that’s another days discussion.

        Also, it’s worth clarifying that Mazepin, while a pay driver and entirely out classed by his team mate last year , did nothing wrong here

        1. @twentyseven If that rule had been in place in the past Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher, to name just two, would not have had F1 seats.

          1. Alonso & Perez are/were on that list too and i’d bet a large portion of the grid had some personal sponsorship at least when they first started out. I think the term for those guys is “Funded Driver” because they actually have talent while a “Pay Driver” is just there to bring a check and hopefully won’t screw things up too bad for everyone else.

      3. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
        25th February 2022, 12:23

        Wouldn’t suprise me if they’d put Fittipaldi in the car for the short term, then go search for either another pay driver or someone who could score a point or two, depending on how badly the team does

        1. I say bring back Kevin. Maybe Nico. Herta perhaps, Antonio even. Or piastri maybe

    2. Alpine need to push Piastri to take his seat / loan him out to Haas. This is an opportunity for them to put him in actual machinery and give him experience. Haas are also gonna be desperate for cash. AlpineF1, this is your time to shine!

      1. I’d love to see it happen, but I get the feeling Alpine will likely just keep Piastri as their reserve driver simply since they would have to find a reserve and simulator driver on short notice (don’t think Kvyat will be around much given the recent events). Given they don’t have Lundgaard or Zhou anymore either, I’m not sure who else Alpine could get who could replace Piastri, unless they could convince someone like Giovinazzi to be a reserve and simulator driver in addition to his other commitments.

        1. Kvyat is not exactly a Russian oligarch. Much different situation. They keep him around because he is beneficial.

          1. @jureo I don’t doubt that at all, but teams might prefer not to be associated with any Russian drivers at present. This might also be why someone like Shwartzman (the natural choice as a Mazepin replacement) may be overlooked.

          2. @jureo, I’m unsure if Kvyat is even in the team anymore since his WEC move.

          3. @mashiat Same. Coincidently, I’ve thought about Shwartzman, but if Mazepin has zero chance of staying at Haas solely for being Russian, neither does Shwartzman stand any chance of replacing him.

          4. @jerejj I don’t think the problem is he being Russian per se, more that he doesn’t bring much to the table aside from a fat sponsor.

          5. @eljueta Shwartzman? I haven’t really seen or heard him being mentioned as a driver with sponsor backing.

          6. @jerejj no, I meant Mazepin. I was trying to say that Shwartzman shouldn’t be an issue as he isnt government-backed afaik. But who knows.

          7. They might want to drop Mazepin ASAP, if the sanctions mean they won’t be getting money from Uralkali. First of all, he is pretty useless to them as a driver. But also, having him there is a signal to potential sponsors (ties with Russian Oligarch they might want to avoid, especially now). If they replace him with Fittipaldi, that is also a sign to a potential sponsor that they have a seat that sponsor could fill with a driver of their choice.

            But the simple fact might be that soon it could well be hard to travel around for Mazepin especially (he might be hit with sanctions as soon as his Father is), but If I am not mistaken Shwartzman and Kvyat might be hit by issues too, since more and more EU countries are now moving to restricting handing out visas for Russian citizens and reviewing already handed out visas as well.

    3. Pay drivers have existed since the start of F1. Niki Lauda was a pay driver. Lewis Hamilton was a pay driver, paid for by McLaren. It’s not that pay drivers are the problem, it’s that sub quality drivers are able to pay over the odds for a place to get onto the grid and drag the pay driver reputation down. To refer to pay drivers as a negative of F1 is stating it’s origins are flawed, without which we would not have F1 as it is today

      1. I’m not sure you could call Lewis a pay driver. McLaren paid themselves to put him in their own car?

    4. Can he lose the bad haircut first?

  2. I am not sure too many tears will be shed if Uralkali and the Mazepins exit F1. But, despite Steiner’s assurances, I do worry about the financial security of Haas if they lose this backing.

    After the Rich Energy fiasco, and now this, let’s hope the next high-profile Haas deal isn’t with a retired Nigerian general.

    1. Retired General? No, but there is a lot of Nigerian Princes about that could fill the spot😁👍

    2. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      25th February 2022, 12:24

      Maybe T-minus could be enticed to make a come-back

    3. @red-andy I think they will be fine in the short term, Gene Haas has bucket loads of cash and he won’t see his people lose their jobs I’m sure. I understand that the flirtations with Rich Energy and the Mazepins is because Gene wants to scale back his investment a bit, not because he wants out completely. If push comes to shove I’m sure he will give the team a decent budget until another source of cash comes up.

      1. I’d also guess that they have most likely gotten a solid part of the money from Mazepin up front to help them actually get through the winter @geemac, @red-andy, so they should be OK short term. And long term, they now have a nice and white canvas to get any sponsors in.

  3. Wow, that is very good to hear. They clearly did the morally correct thing here and to be honest I am not sure they will miss Mazepin apart from his money…

  4. I’ve heard and seen many crazy stories about how drivers got and lost F1 seats over the decades. But I’ve got to say losing your seat because your home country decided to cancel itself is absolutely on top of the list of most unique ways to do it.

    1. they haven’t cancelled themselves. there has been many stories just like this actually, team removes sponsorship and pay driver.

      1. Mid season? Nope the only way that happens is either when a company goes bust or Russia decide to invade a peaceful neighbour and kill civilians, while making up a fantasy about the history of Ukraine… Oh and then suggesting the UK would suddenly invade Ireland if they stopped speaking English…

    2. @sjaakfoo Yeah, this is very high. F1 has danced around Apartheid, CS Gas taxi drivers, Bernie’s political donations, Bernie being held to ransom or not by a banker over a sale to CVC, who milked the sport, FISA / FOCA, driver deaths, drivers locking themselves in hotels and Andrea de Cesaris pranging into things, Nikita, Nazi sex dungeons et al.

      Getting kicked out of your drive, because your dad paid for your drive and your home country had it’s banned colours painted on the front wing and then invaded another country.

      Makes Coronation Street seem somewhat dull.

      1. Just in……. Gail to be new CEO of Liberty.

      2. It would be hard to dance around Dmitry Mazepin’s BFF using nukes in Eastern Europe.

  5. Fittipaldi? Piastri? Kubica? Anyone else with a bunch of money?

    1. where’s K-Mag?

      1. That would be the greatest plot twist of all time!

      2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        25th February 2022, 12:41

        K Mag will be driving the Peugeot hypercar in WEC

    2. @qeki The former two aren’t pay-drivers (or at least the latter isn’t), while Kubica & Orlen are tied with Alfa Romeo.
      @twentyseven IMSA & he’s uninterested in an F1 return merely for making up numbers.

  6. If the choice is to bring back Fake Energy, please keep the Russians.

    1. There are hundreds of Ukrainians dead after just two days of this invasion.

  7. Haas out – Andretti in ??

    1. @Stephen H I doubt at this short notice.

  8. Well he’s not going to keep his seat unless he’s paying for it and he won’t be paying for it if his sponsor has gone…Seems like the end of the road for Mazepin.

    I assume Andretti will already be on the phone. He could offer money to get them through the season in exchange for shares in the team and then could complete a buyout at the end of the season.

    1. Like his father who has 3 billions can’t afford to give haas some money like stroll does.

      1. @esploratore1 – Sure but how much of that 3 billion does he have access to at the moment? Will he be able to pay that money to Haas? Would he want to pay money to a team who have removed his company’s branding from their car which effectively links the company to Putin and the Ukraine war? Would Haas be willing to accept money from him given the current situation?

  9. I hope Piastri and his management (Webber / Alpine) are moving fast and trying to secure some minimal funding.

    A 2nd year Schumacher and debutant Piastri will ve a promising and fan-favorite driver pairing too!!

  10. Telephone call happening right now:

    “G’day Guenther, it’s Mark. Can we have a chat about me mate Oscar?”

  11. Haas really can’t catch a break with their sponsors can they. I’m doubtful as to Guenther’s statement that the team can financially withstand the loss of Uralkali, but can’t think of any potential solutions either. Sponsors may be averse to a team that was so visibly poor last year. I didn’t think Pietro Fittipaldi’s sponsors had the deepest pockets either.

    1. If the Sponsor can’t pay (and they can’t anymore) and they didn’t pay infront Haas certainly can break the deal.

    2. To be fair, a sponsorship deal which meant turning your car into a Russian flag (and then denying that was the case) was a poor deal to begin with.

      Haas need to sort out their processes when it comes to sponsorship.

    3. I hope Banco do Brasil pours some money for Pifitti as title sponsor, it would be cool to paint the car yellow and blue (like Sauber a few years ago).

  12. Honest question: why does Uralkali (Mazepin) has to be cancelled/banned? How are they involved in the actions of the Russian government and in what way does this company/family need to be boycotted?

    1. The optics are very bad

      1. i didnt think the optics were bad until the AMERICAN owned team decided to remove RUSSIAN sponsorship. now the optics are bad. I suspect HAAS maybe just didn’t want to damage his reputation in USA, where “patriotic” social media keyboard warriors were already starting to kick up a storm, calling Mazepin an Oligarch etc..

        1. There is also the small matter of sanctions being in place now, and further ones in the future that will, or would, limit the ability either legally or physically, for Uralkali to make payments to Haas, either in the UK, Europe, or the USA. For example, by shutting off the ability of Russian companies from trading or moving money on international markets, or through banking systems, will have an immediate impact on the ability of the sponsor to pay the team.

          Similarly (an this is speculation, admittedly), I have heard it said in the past that so called “Pay Drivers” still receiving a salary from the team, as it looks better than the sponsor just paying the salary. If this were the case here, Mazepin would then not be able to be paid by Haas

          G

        2. They’re calling Mazepin Sr. an oligarch because that’s what he is. He was apparently summoned to the Kremlin yesterday to meet with Putin along with several owners of several other large Russian companies to discuss the sanctions being put on Russia. This isn’t just a guy who just happens to be Russian – this is a close ally of Putin.

        3. Legitimately, what on Earth is wrong with you?

          You commented some other utter nonsense elsewhere too. Whatever US crimes, whatever your politics, here are two facts for you:

          *Dmitri Mazepin is your textbook, Grade A, nasty oligarch
          *Putin’s Russian regime is presently committing evil.

          I don’t know if you’re Russian or not but you’re doing nothing to help the reputation of a country in grave shape right now, and it’s a damn shame because of course millions of Russians are peace-loving decent people who Putin is not acting on behalf of.

    2. US applied sanctions on Russia that forbid financial transactions between companies of the two country. Hass cannot receive money from Uralkali.

    3. Uralkali was already under investigation for potentially breaking sanctions due to its activities in Belarus, and Dmitry Mazepin is under threat of facing sanctions as a close associate of Putin and under suspicion of helping manage foreign assets that Putin owns.

    4. Mazepin’s father was in a meeting with Putin as Russia was invading Ukraine! What more proof do you need?

  13. Any F2 driver with a bunch of cash available?

    1. @turch17 Not to my knowledge. Roy Nissany doesn’t count as he’s ineligible for a super license.

  14. The Andretti’s would be the logical solution to this problem.

    1. This is what I thought right away.. Save himself atleast 200 million of inflationary dollars.

    2. & they have a driver they can put in the seat day 1 – Roman

      1. @blueruck, I’m unsure if he’d be interested in an F1 return merely for making up numbers towards the back.

      2. @blueruck @jerejj Yeah I would be very very surprised if RG would need more than a second to answer no to being asked to come to Haas and run around at the back again. He sounds very very happy where he is and has even spoken about the excitement of actually racing with chances for podiums and wins vs his F1 career where so much depends on having the car, of which he never had and of which he certainly wouldn’t with Haas.

        As well, wrt Andretti buying the team or entering on his own, it really sounds like Colton Herta would be their number one choice, and Herta would need less than a second to say yes.

        1. Just to add…RG is a blast to watch in Indycar. He’s doing really well and he exudes joy in being in the series both on and off the track, and by all accounts is loving being in the US as well.

  15. Obviously Mazepin isn’t the best thing since sliced bread, but part of me would feel bad for him losing his seat over because of the madman in charge of his country. I realise the Mazepins aren’t really representative of ordinary Russians, but we shouldn’t tar everyone with the same brush – a huge number if Russians don’t like Putin, and even many of those who do don’t support the invasion.

    However, if they do drop him – interested to see who would take his place. Probably the ideal candidate would be Piastri, but perhaps he’d prefer to wait till next year when a better seat is almost certainly on offer, with a full pre-season of race preparation as well. Otherwise… Hulkenberg? Giovinazzi?

    1. *of, not if

      1. they have a reserve driver …

        1. @macleod I know they do. But I don’t think they’d seriously consider putting him in for a full season.

    2. This isn’t a matter of tarring all Russians with the same brush, it’s a matter of not allowing an Oligarch who was in meetings with Putin during the invasion to have anything to do with F1.

    3. It would be a strange way to lose his seat, but would i feel bad for him?

      Not really, no.

      It’s not like he’s Danil Kvyatt, A driver with some real talent in there that maybe can’t stitch it together consistently or has been unfairly tarred with a certain brush.

      He’s only there because of his fathers money, and his fathers money is linked to that regime.

      He has had an opportunity far, far better drivers couldn’t get near, simply because they didn’t have an Oligarch father. He has shown that not only is he not up to the required level, but as an individual, is questionable off the track as well. It would be somewhat ironic if he lost his seat due to external factors rather than anything he did, but at the end of the day, it’s not a seat he should have anyway and it’s not like he’s going to fall into a life of poverty… He’ll be alright and wind up somewhere again in future no doubt, when somebody in some series gets desperate for cash.

  16. No Americans with the desired points? That would suit F1, FIA and Liberty.

    1. None that I can think of, I could be wrong. Also the best Americans in Indycar all have good seats for the season and I can’t see them dropping that to move to a different series, almost unprepared, to drive for a backmarker team with an uncertain future.

    2. Newgarden is eligible but as said by @tflb above I doubt he would leave Penske for Haas.

    3. Logan Sargent is missing 9 pts I think. It didn’t prevent Mazepin from making it though.

  17. What a shame.

  18. Would love to see Hulk in the seat. I think Haas can get the financing as F1 has stated that new teams need to pay a few hundred million to get into the sport, so an existing team has to be worth at least that much.

  19. Oh no! :o Anyway… :)

  20. Has Gene Haas phoned Michael Andretti yet? seriously…

    Also could Oscar Piastri get that ride if Mazepin loses his drive?

    I suppose we will get a clearer picture of what happens next with the War and when the teams go pre-season testing in Bahrain….

    1. @paulsf1fix I doubt Piastri’s chance.

  21. If Mazepin lose the seat who will be next Haas driver?
    Pietro Fittipaldi – the internal solution
    Hulkenberg – the most experienced available
    Giovinazzi – another Ferrari driver
    Piastri – F2 champion and Alpine driver
    Someone else?

    1. Robert Schwartzman. His family/sponsoring situation is completely different than Mazepin’s, AFAIK.
      I think Marcus Armstrong is still with the FDA (he was last year, at worse). Dan Ticktum has enough SL points.

      There are other with the required SL points, but either wouldn’t make much sense (think Gianluca Petecof) or are signed with another academy (Theo Pourchaire is the really obvious one here, along with Piastri)

  22. Imagine if the options would be Mazepin or Lord Mahaveer..

  23. The world is just too political. This is wrong from many perspectives but do people listen or care.
    Not that I will miss though.

  24. And nothing of value was lost.

  25. Mazepin never should have been given a seat in the first place.

  26. Japan is no issuing visas to Russian nationals so at the very least, Haas will need to replace Mazepin in Japan unless there is an exception that allows him into the country.

  27. I actually feel rather sorry for Nikita, I’ll be clear that I consider him a rubbish driver who only has a seat due to his fathers backing but his background is not his fault. His career, despite being made due to his background is also likely to be undone for the very same reason.

  28. Really feeling sorry for Mazepin. Sure, his dad has connections with Putin, but that doesn’t mean that every decision the dictator makes has the agreement of Dmitry. Besides, Nikita can hardly be blamed for Putin’s actions. If he loses his seat, it would be for no fault of his.

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