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5 Mar, 2022 11:10

Russian F1 star responds to axing by claiming there was ‘no process’

Nikita Mazepin insisted he had been willing to accept sanctions on Russian athletes including a ban from racing in the UK
Russian F1 star responds to axing by claiming there was ‘no process’

American Formula One team Haas "completely ignored" axed driver Nikita Mazepin's acceptance of sanctions placed on Russian drivers before ending his contract without following any termination process, the shocked star has claimed.

Within 24 hours of calling reports of the Moscow-born racer's exit inaccurate, Haas announced it had fired Mazepin and ended its deal with lead sponsor Uralkali, a Russian potash fertilizer producer.

Newcomer Mazepin had appealed to supporters to understand that he was "not in control" of events as pressure on Russian sportspeople grew following the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

The 23-year-old has now become the latest athlete from his country to have their careers curtailed as a consequence of the invasion, which Haas said they were "shocked and saddened" by in their statement revealing his departure.

Formula One governing body the FIA had allowed Mazepin to race in the new season, although he had been ordered to appear under a neutral flag as part of sanctions against Russia.

Motorsport UK had also barred Russian and Belarusian-licensed teams from competing at the British Grand Prix in July.

"While I understand the difficulties, the ruling from the FIA, plus my ongoing willingness to accept the conditions proposed in order to continue, were completely ignored and no process was followed in this unilateral step," said Mazepin, calling himself "very disappointed" shortly after Haas made their decision public.

"To those who have tried to understand, my eternal thanks. I have treasured my time in F1 and genuinely hope we can all be together again in better times. I will have more to say in the coming days."

Mazepin had shared his anticipation for the new season on social media and pledged to raise his performances after a difficult first season for Haas.

In common with teammate and fellow rookie Mick Schumacher – the son of seven-time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher – Mazepin had failed to score a point across the campaign.

Dmitry Mazepin, the driver's billionaire Belarusian-Russian father, is a shareholder and director of Uralkali.

There was a mixed response to Mazepin's comments on his exit on social media, where some expressed sympathy for his predicament and others could not resist making references to his eventful time on and off the track.

The prospect suffered several premature ends to races over the course of a season that began with Haas unveiling Russian flag-colored livery on its cars.

He was also the subject of a critical hashtag after being accused of groping a woman, leading to Haas issuing a statement rebuking Mazepin and the driver acknowledging that his actions were misjudged.

Schumacher will continue with the team ahead of the first race of the season in Bahrain on March 20. 

Reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi has been named by many as Mazepin's potential replacement when testing for the race begins ten days earlier.