Spurned Russian racer suing F1 team
Russian racing driver Nikita Mazepin has revealed he is taking legal action against former team Haas, claiming the American Formula 1 outfit owes him unpaid wages.
Mazepin, 23, had his contract at Haas terminated in March ahead of what was set to be his second season with the team.
Haas took the step in light of the conflict in Ukraine, also ending its deal with Russian title sponsors Uralkali – where Mazepin’s businessman father, Dmitry, was formerly a controlling stakeholder.
Uralkali has already demanded the return of sponsorship funding from Haas – said to be $13 million – but Nikita Mazepin told Russian media this week that he was pursuing a separate legal case over salary claims.
“When the contract was terminated, Haas had a salary arrears to me for 2022,” the Russian racer told RBC.
“They still haven’t paid it. I’m talking about the fact that contractual obligations were not fulfilled.
“You also need to understand that we had two independent contracts. And breaking the agreement with the title sponsor did not have a direct impact on my future in the team.
“So they made two separate decisions. I didn’t see my money, so we’re going to court.”
Both Nikita Mazepin and his father have been sanctioned by the EU, although that came after he had already been discarded by Haas.
The Russian racing star has frequently bemoaned his treatment from the team, saying there was “no process” and that he only learned his fate through a press release.
He also appeared to criticize former Haas teammate Mick Schumacher – son of German racing legend Michael Schumacher – and others at Haas for their lack of support.
Mazepin was axed by Haas, whose team principle is the colorful Guenther Steiner, despite Russian racers being cleared to compete under neutral status by racing authorities the FIA.
The driver, who struggled during his debut season in F1 as Haas languished at the foot of the driver and constructor standings, has blamed “cancel culture” for fueling many of the Western sanctions applied to his country and its citizens.
Speaking to RBC, Mazepin said racing officials in his homeland had been compensated after F1 canceled its contract for the Russian Grand Prix, arguing that was a precedent for his personal situation.
“According to my information, Formula 1 paid money to Rosgonka for the canceled Russian Grand Prix and, thereby, set an example of etiquette – there are business relations and you can’t lawlessly, this is wrong. Unfortunately, not everyone is guided by this,” Mazepin said.
Not only has Haas rejected the sponsorship refund demands from Uralkali, the team reportedly requested a further $8.6 million from the Russian fertilizer giant for “loss of profits,” according to Motorsport.com.
Meanwhile, Mazepin recently announced that he would be returning to racing at the Silk Way Rally, which travels from Astrakhan to Moscow and is held on July 6-16.
Back in March, Mazepin announced the creation of a foundation titled ‘We Compete as One’, which would be funded by Uralkali and would help athletes unable to compete due to war or politics.