Uralkali warned Haas it would pull sponsorship in row over Mazepin’s car in 2021

2021 F1 season

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Haas’s title sponsor Uralkali threatened to pull its backing from the team during the 2021 Formula 1 season in an internal row over Nikita Mazepin’s car.

The new series of Netflix’s Drive To Survive, which is due to arrive next week, reveals how Mazepin’s father Dmitry, the owner of Uralkali, warned the team he would pull their backing if they did not switch chassis between his son and team mate Mick Schumacher.

Mazepin and his father began to raise doubts over the parity between his chassis and Schumacher’s grew over the opening races of the season. Mazepin was consistently out-qualified by his team mate and finished behind him.

“It’s the same car,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner told his driver at one point. “As much as you believe it’s not, it’s the same car.”

Review: Drive to Survive season four review – Still as fun, flawed and unmissable as ever
However the Mazepin camp remained unconvinced. In an exchange with team adviser Jesper Carlsen at the Spanish Grand Prix, Dmitry Mazepin warned: “If it doesn’t change, I will send an official letter that we stop financing and stop racing.”

“It will be a huge problem with the money,” Mazepin continued. “And they will decide what to do because we will not keep this ‘let’s do, let’s do, let’s try, let’s try.’ We already tried [for] three races and if we remove the Uralkali, we stop racing. Switch the cars. Everybody knows that someone has an advantage.”

Carlsen advised Steiner of Mazepin’s warning he would “pop a formal letter” about “withdrawing” from Formula 1 because he “thinks there’s a difference between the cars.”

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During last year’s two races in Austria, Nikita Mazepin made public comments about having driven with a heavier chassis than his team mate. Mazepin received a new chassis for the second half of the season, starting from the Belgian Grand Prix, three months after the Spanish race.

Steiner confirmed last year one of its chassis was heavier than the other, but said it had been rotated between the two drivers.

Asked by the programme makers whether he was concerned Mazepin would withdraw the Uralkali backing, Steiner replied: “I don’t want to go there on an interview.”

Haas launched their car for the 2022 season once again bearing Uralkali branding and logos. However, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the team removed the branding for the final day of testing, also stripping it from their motorhome at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Haas is yet to confirm Uralkali’s status with the team for the remainder of the season. Junior series team Hitech GP, which was also previously sponsored by Uralkali, is no longer carrying its logos this year.

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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58 comments on “Uralkali warned Haas it would pull sponsorship in row over Mazepin’s car in 2021”

  1. There’s no part of this article that isn’t funny.

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      3rd March 2022, 8:11

      My favourite subtlety is the fact it’s casually confirmed and thrown away that they actually had one chassis heavier than the other 😂. As if that just ‘happens.’

      1. @rdotquestionmark lots of teams have one chassis that’s heavier than another, especially if one has been repaired following an accident. No two hand-made items are ever exactly the same.

      2. It took a lot of carbon fibre to cover all those scorchemarks and scratches and reatach all the outside bits on Romains car, ok? let the poor mechanic catch a break, will you?

        1. Wasn’t there something like 50g difference between the two and that was due to the repair patches made because Mazepin crashed it?

          1. someone or something
            3rd March 2022, 14:30

            Yeah, something along those lines. ‘Heavier’ doesn’t necessarily mean a significant difference. And while we’re at it, a heavier chassis doesn’t even necessarily mean a heavier car. Most of the time, it simply means you can’t play with ballast as much as you’d like. Which is a bit of a disadvantage, but pretty diluted compared to overweight.

  2. Mazepin: We will withdraw sponsorship and stop racing in your team!

    Steiner: Good luck finding a seat then

    Mazepin: *surprised pikachu face*

  3. Matt Williams
    3rd March 2022, 0:29

    Surely a key point to mention here is that even after the chassis were swopped in Belgium, Schumacher continued to outperform Mazepin

    1. That’s an inconvenient truth.

    2. Yeah… Featuring heavier chassis.

  4. Derek Edwards
    3rd March 2022, 0:33

    Talk about running out of excuses for not being up to the mark.

  5. “It’s the same car,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner told his driver at one point. “As much as you believe it’s not, it’s the same car.”

    Some kind of motorsport equivalent of a sainthood is needed for Guenther. If anyone wishes for a self-driving, driver-free, Formula 1 car, it must be him.

    1. @david-br Could you imagine asking him “how was your day at work?”. As much as I think we should petition the FIA to create a Sainthood (perhaps we could use the super license points system as a framework), I think Gunther would prefer a large glass of wine and sit on the sofa.

      He could see whats on Netflix.

      1. He could see whats on Netflix.

        @bernasaurus :o)
        They could do a spin-off series, Sigh and Survive with Guenther Steiner, with voice over by Werner Herzog.

        1. Haha spin-off

        2. someone or something
          3rd March 2022, 14:31

          I wonder if Günther has a tinnitus from all that beeping …

        3. Herzog could do a full-on documentary- “Little Gunther Needs to Sigh”.

          1. @ferrox-glideh Brilliant, that’s exactly what he would call it!

          2. @david-br In the same vein, it’s a shame that Klaus Kinski is dead, as he would have been stellar in the lead role for a Bernie Ecclestone bio-pic. :)

          3. @ferrox-glideh Put some sunglasses on and that’s the make-up done. He might have had to work on being a bit scarier than in his usual roles…

        4. LMAO. Love the title and love Herzog even more. The most world weary yet compelling voice ever.

  6. The Dolphins
    3rd March 2022, 2:50

    I hope Haas has a fantastic season this year. I don’t think they are going to be winning the championship but I certainly hope for consistent points finishes and a Schumacher podium (as crazy as that may seem given the teams previous results.) That would be a massive morale boost for the team and hopefully would bring with it sponsorship interest from more reputable companies/individuals.

    1. I don’t share your sentiments.

      – They brought onboard a driver whose off-track behaviour would get most of us the sack and whose on-track performance was massively short of F1 standard.

      – They cosied-up to a Russian oligarch who just happened to be the father of one of their drivers, to ensure financial security.

      – They blatantly breached rules by driving around in a motorised Russian flag. Obviously, they denied it was a representation of the flag yet, suddenly removed the colour scheme as soon as Russia invaded Ukraine, proving what we knew all along.

      You get judged by the company that you keep and the decisions that you make. Haas are dead to me.

      1. Exactly, as we say out here in the west, “You ride with the bandits you die with the bandits!” As an American I was embarassed to see theRussian Flag on that car. Bring on Andretti and an American driver (atleast a North American).

        1. Sorry, but i think America should be very quiet about judging others about starting a war…

          1. Too true

    2. I was really pulling for Haas in their first season, but now they just make me sad.

  7. He got his ass kicked by Mick in almost every quali and race.
    I think also Mazepin senior is tired of burning money to show the world his son sucks

    1. And if you know Mick starts new series always slow it could be even more worse for Mazepin if Mick shows his normal progression the next year.

    2. Sometimes I forget about that aspect. It must suck to have all your friends and especially your enemies snickering behind your back.

      1. And I forgot to add, paying hundreds of millions for the privilege of being humiliated.

  8. Take it easy on the Mazepins now guys. These are some stressful times for them.

    1. /s????

  9. Dmitry Mazepin: “Everybody knows that someone has an advantage.”

    Yes, of course Mick has an advantage, it’s called talent.

    I don’t think there was a race weekend where I didn’t think it would be nice to see Nikita have a less than terrible weekend, and actually demonstrate some talent, but it just never happened.

    1. someone or something
      3rd March 2022, 14:37

      That was a bit rich (pun fully intended) coming from the very guy who was bankrolling the team to an extent where he thought he had the power to blackmail the team because his son wasn’t having enough fun.

      And yes, Nikita was rather disappointing even on the weekends that weren’t outright disastrous. His peak performances seemed to reach a lofty height of up to 3/10, and that was about it.

  10. Chris Horton
    3rd March 2022, 6:33

    I wish someone would tell him and his dad they don’t have to get the same haircut.

  11. Mazepin (senior) behaves similarly to Putin. Do as I tell you otherwise I will destroy your team. The only difference being Mazepin would just remove the funding. Putin would have literally destroyed it.

  12. Missed opportunity for leader image being Haas removing the Uralkali stickers from their trucks last week.

  13. Formula 1 welcomes oligarchs…
    Change my son’s car, or else…
    It could have been worst… Gunther could have been poisoned…
    It’s time to expel theses ‘people’ from decent society!

  14. Here is a proposed Win-Win Situation.

    Mazepin Sr should just buy Junior’s HAAS car and have it delivered to Russia. Jr can then race around tracks by himself.

    Win for HAAS – They can make some money by selling a Car off
    Win for F1 – They no longer have to put up with Mazespin.
    Win for Mazepin – If he is the only one on track, he might actually finish a race in front

    1. Yeah but if they did that, he’d continue to finish every race in last as well….

      1. He’d have to finish a race before he could win. Wouldn’t hold your breath.

  15. Always something new to learn, even if sometimes only quite a bit afterwards.

  16. Let’s not forget Mazepin almost make Mick crash into the wall at the Dutch grand Prix last year I hated him before Mazepin drove a single lap hated him even more after that race NEVER try force another driver into the wall

  17. You have to wonder whether you want to do business this way in the first place. Sponsors are welcome, nice and a way to structure your business model, but when it becomes child’s play and you are subject of the mood of your sponsor, I think you don’t take yourself seriously any more. Your means are working against you, meaning your initial set up of your funding is not right.

  18. In a word, Mazepin sucks! However, am curious as to what the actual difference in weight was?

    1. Sush Meerkat
      3rd March 2022, 14:24

      The difference was apparently 4kg

      1. And that was just his ego……………………………………I’ll get me coat.

        Seriously though, there’s a few people of twitter reporting that Haas are preparing to announce Mazepin is being dropped and Pietro Fittapaldi taking the seat. Reliable claims? Until there’s official word one way or other, I’m taking it with a pinch of salt, but it wouldn’t surprise me if true.

        Better Haas has the headache of dumping him now rather than mid season.

        1. No idea if there’s any truth in it but if I was one of those people who make things up on Twitter, it’s exactly what I’d be saying now because there’s a very good chance I’d be proven right. If you weigh up the pros and cons of keeping Mazepin, what would you list at the pros? I’m struggling to think of any!

  19. What the heck spoilers. I don’t think this is the purpose of pre-release screenings.

  20. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  21. Isn’t this just a prelude to exit under smokey reasons.
    Instead of admitting they have to exit because of not being able to hold the sponsor anymore, there own company.

    Have they at all said something about the Invasion of Ukraine by Russia?
    Not looked at f1 much.

    1. I mean, they canceled the Russian GP. What more of a statement could you ask for?

  22. To be fair, there was a difference in the cars. Even Haas admitted it. Mazepin’s chassis was slightly heavier.

    They swapped cars, and you could see there was an effect…. Mazepin went from lightyears off Mick, to miles off of Mick, who was driving the slower car… So the biggest difference all along was the guy behind the wheel.

    Fwiw, i think Mick was pushing to the point of overdriving trying to get everything (and had a fair number of shunts trying to get more than the car was capable of) and after the early rounds, Mazepin really reeled it in a lot… but lets not kid on here, he was awful.

    I’m not going to say talentless, because he’s proven in junior formula that he’s not the worst by any means, but some decent drivers just do not have the extra capacity needed to do it in F1, and that is him. You heard how flustered he was at Monaco when they asked him to make a settings change on the wheel…sure, that was a tough ask, but it showed he didn’t have the mental capacity for this level.

    This leaking out is basically Haas washing their hands of them and making it clear they weren’t easy to deal with.

    1. @mrcento Couldn’t have said it better myself. There’s a saying in aviation: “he’s flying behind the plane.” Basically means, due to a lack of talent and/or mental capacity, the pilot is not able to safely monitor instruments or maintain situational while also aviating, navigating and communicating at the same time. A bad pilot can fly 5,000 flights without issue in ordinary conditions but given an actual challenge, the deficits is most likely to rear itself during a tricky approach/landing and any type of performance issue during the take off sequence.

      1. BTW, I have some sympathy. As someone who races on an amateur level, I nearly once blew an engine because I was racing really hard and didn’t have the capacity to notice my oil pressure was going down and down and down. At the end of the race, I had a few angry competitors accuse me of intentionally/knowingly dropping oil on the track behind me to keep them behind me, which is ridiculous since I would never risk a $15,000 engine for a plastic trophy or enjoy a dishonest victory.

  23. Mazepin is not long for F1. Just too many problems that money alone won’t cover.

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