‘Cancel culture’ fueling anti-Russian sanctions, says sacked F1 racer Mazepin (VIDEO)
Ex-Formula One driver Nikita Mazepin has blamed 'cancel culture' for the sanctions placed on Russian athletes and vowed not to publicly comment on his country's conflict with Ukraine.
As a response to Russia's military operation in Ukraine, numerous sporting federations followed an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation and banned Russian athletes from competing in international sporting events.
Motorsport authority the FIA didn't follow suit and would have allowed Mazepin to participate in F1 in the 2022 season under neutral status, yet his former team Haas axed him and his father's company Uralkali as a sponsor while the 23-year-old later announced the 'We Compete As One' support fund for athletes "who have lost the opportunity to compete".
To the BBC this week, Mazepin stated that he doesn't agree "with being in the sanctions".
"I've said previously that I intend to fight it.," Mazepin added.
"Perhaps now is not the right time because if you look at the whole situation that is happening against athletes and the general case, it's cancel culture against my country."
“The whole situation that’s happening against athletes… it’s cancel culture against my country”Sacked Russian F1 driver Nikita Mazepin says he’s been sanctioned unfairly and there are “tremendous risks” in speaking about the Ukraine conflicthttps://t.co/6gkOE1mnDjpic.twitter.com/oeggrXwA9u— BBC HARDtalk (@BBCHARDtalk) April 7, 2022
Mazepin admitted that it is "painful" to see what is happening in Ukraine but refused to criticize Russia.
"I live in the same world as you," Mazepin told his host. "But it's very painful to watch that on many levels," Mazepin stressed.
"My feelings, they obviously changed as a human being and as a person that wants to live in a very peaceful world.
"But I will be honest with you, I just see tremendous risks in saying anything at all about this case because I will never satisfy everyone. And therefore I will keep myself publicly quiet," he vowed.
Mazepin drove for Haas for just a single campaign in 2021 and failed to pick up any points alongside the son of the legendary Michael Schumacher, Mick.
Finishing in last place in the world championship rankings, Mazepin has received support from the season's winner in Max Verstappen amid his troubles.
"You always have to feel sympathy with Nikita himself. Everyone, regardless of their background, they work very hard from a very young age to be a Formula 1 driver,” Verstappen said previously, also to the BBC.
"Of course you can have a lot of backing, but you still need talent to drive these cars, even in Formula 3 and Formula 2, you need to be competitive. [Mazepin] definitely was that," Verstappen went on.
"At the moment it’s very complicated for him, but yeah, let’s see. Hopefully in general the world can be at peace again, that’s the most important," the Belgian concluded.
Verstappen's defense of the title continues at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday.
So far, Mazepin's replacement Kevin Magnussen has picked up 12 points from two races while sitting in a respectable eighth place overall in the standings.