Despite his absence on the grid in 2022, Nikita Mazepin continues to be talked about. As Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine between the two Formula 1 winter testing sessions, Haas decided to part ways with its driver to recall Kevin Magnussen. But the Russian’s breach of contract was not the only consequence of this war: the team also canceled its ties with Uralkali, title sponsor since 2021.
Immediately after this announcement, Uralkali asked the American team to return the sum paid in advance for the 2022 season. But Haas was clear: the 13 million dollars will not be returned to the Russian company. The team even asked for an additional compensation of 8.6 million dollars for « loss of profit ».
The current situation makes a return to F1 for Mazepin highly unlikely but the driver hasn’t put the possibility of being on the grid back in his mind. However, before discussing his possible options for the future, the Russian wonders about the « values » discipline and how the teams behave. On CNN’s Quest Means Business, Mazepin rejects the idea that his neutrality in the face of the war could be a reason to prevent him from returning to the paddock.
“Everyone has the right to speak or not to speak”explains the Russian. “The FIA, which is the biggest governing body, allowed me to race as long as I remained neutral. But I would say the main problem would be to come back to a sport where teams are allowed to keep a sponsor without fulfilling their part of the contract. And they even ask for more, when they say they don’t want Russian money. I’m not sure of anything but I think the values of sport have to be evaluated after that. «
Author of a disastrous season with Haas in 2021, the Russian believes that he still has things to prove in F1 and that his only year in the elite unfortunately coincided with the poor form of the American team. Asked about his future in the discipline, Mazepin admits that it is unclear.
« It’s hard to say at the moment, because I’m afraid my problem is that I lost my job »laments the Russian. « I spent 17 years trying to get to F1 and finally made it. But it’s a really minor issue when you see what’s going on in the world right now. Of course I would love to be back. in this sport. I feel like I still have things to do in this environment. But I have to wait for things to calm down. And I don’t even know who I could turn to, because Haas has done what we know, they weren’t very fair to me. But it’s different for me. »
Although he refrains from commenting on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Mazepin admits that the situation is « painful » to have. « From my point of view, whatever is happening now, and I can only observe a small part of things from my home in Moscow, it is very painful. And I really feel it. I am 23 years old, and I lived in a very calm world. But in terms of my official position, I have said many times that it is very important for me to be neutral, because I am an athlete. And I think that « It’s important to be able to be neutral. Even for that, I’ve created a foundation that will help athletes stay neutral in principle. »