‘No guarantees’ for Mazepin’s Haas seat – boss

Tue, 1 March 2022, 08:00

Mar.1 (GMM) Nikita Mazepin’s Formula 1 career is hanging in the balance ahead of an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday of the World Motor Sport Council.

The meeting has been convened by new FIA president Mohammed Bin Sulayem as a direct result of the “ongoing crisis in Ukraine”.

Preparations for September’s Russian GP at Sochi have already been suspended, so it is expected the meeting is specifically to discuss whether Haas driver Mazepin should be expelled from the 2022 world championship.

The move would be in concert with much of the rest of the sporting world, as western nations impose hefty sanctions to deter Russia’s incursion in Ukraine.

The International Olympic Committee is recommending that international sports federations ban Russian athletes, while FIFA and EUFA have banned Russian teams from playing.

And the president of Ukraine’s motorsport federation, Leonid Kostyuchenko, has reportedly called on the FIA to ban those with Russian licenses from racing this year.

FIA chief Ben Sulayem reportedly wrote to Kostyuchenko to offer “full support”.

The saga is a big blow to the American team Haas, whose main sponsor Uralkali – headed by Mazepin’s father Dmitry, with former ties to Vladimir Putin – was removed from the 2022 during Barcelona testing.

According to RTL, Mick Schumacher’s sponsor 1+1 is even threatening to quit Haas if the team does not dump Uralkali.

“We now have to decide how all this will continue – with the sponsor and also with Mazepin,” team boss Gunther Steiner said.

“Of course Nikita is worried. There are no guarantees for anything in Formula 1, including him.”

Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher told Sky Deutschland: “This could be the end for Nikita, which is a shame of course because the young man can’t help it.

“There is a bit of a time constraint with this as there is only one test left and whoever may replace Mazepin needs the opportunity to get to know the car,” he added.

Schumacher thinks a ban for Mazepin is likely, adding: “There is also the travel issue. It is currently impossible for Russian citizens to move around Europe and the world.”

Steiner has already named Pietro Fittipaldi as a contender for Mazepin’s seat, while Schumacher has heard two other names doing the rounds.

“There is Antonio Giovinazzi and also Oscar Piastri, who won both Formula 3 and Formula 2 in his first year and therefore deserves the chance,” said the German.

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