Ex-F1 star refutes Russian flag claims
Former Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin has clarified that he would be willing to compete in the sport again under neutral status, rejecting reports that he would only contemplate a comeback if he could use the Russian flag.
Mazepin was sacked by American F1 team Haas on the eve of the new season back in March, following the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine.
Haas made the decision despite motor sport governing body the FIA allowing Russian and Belarusian drivers to continue to compete as neutrals, without any of their respective national symbols.
Reports in recent days have claimed that Mazepin would only consider returning to F1 if the FIA changed its stance.
But the 23-year-old took to social media on Wednesday to clarify his position.
“I just wanted to correct the record as several news outlets have reported me as saying I refuse to compete under a neutral flag,” wrote Mazepin.
“This is not the case. What I said was that I am not considering changing my citizenship in order to compete.
“I was and remain willing to compete under neutral status and, in fact, did so during last year’s F1 season without any issues.”
Mazepin was critical of the way Haas handled the termination of his contract, which followed one season of racing with the team in F1.
The driver has also accused the West of trying to “cancel” Russia – something which he says is behind the wave of sporting sanctions imposed on Russian athletes.
As well as dismissing Mazepin, Haas also terminated its title sponsorship deal with Russian fertilizer giant Uralkali, where the driver’s father, Dmitry, was formerly a controlling stakeholder.
Both Uralkali and Nikita Mazepin have since revealed that they are pursuing legal action against Haas to recoup money they are allegedly owed by the racing team.
Since leaving F1, Mazepin has featured in the Silk Way Rally which was held in Russia back in July.