The Haas Formula One team has terminated its contract with Russian driver Nikita Mazepin and title sponsor Uralkali.
The decision was taken in the wake of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and means no Russians are signed up to drive in F1 ahead of the new season.
“Haas F1 Team has elected to terminate, with immediate effect, the title partnership of Uralkali, and the driver contract of Nikita Mazepin,” the team said in a statement. “As with the rest of the Formula One community, the team is shocked and saddened by the invasion of Ukraine and wishes for a swift and peaceful end to the conflict.”
The sport’s governing body, the FIA, had kept open the possibility of Mazepin racing in F1 this year when it announced earlier this week that Russian and Belarusian drivers would be allowed to continue to compete in international motorsport as long as they raced under a neutral flag and agreed not to express any support of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
However, Haas announced Saturday that the deal with Mazepin and Uralkali had been terminated, with the team saying news on a replacement driver would follow next week.
An hour after the news broke, Mazepin released a statement via his social media accounts.
“I am vert disappointed to hear that my F1 contract has been terminated,” Mazepin said. “While I understand the difficulties, the ruling from 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.
“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 joined Haas at the start of 2021 as part of a sponsorship deal with Russian fertilizer company Uralkali, which is part-owned by his father Dmitry via his company Uralchem.
Dmitry Mazepin was one of the business leaders who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow last week to discuss sanctions placed on the country following the invasion of Ukraine.
The Uralkali deal helped Haas secure its finances ahead of the 2021 season and resulted in a title sponsorship agreement that saw the car painted in the colours of the Russian flag.
At the final day of the this year’s first preseason test in Barcelona last week, the Uralkali livery and branding was removed from the car, although Mazepin continued to drive the VF22 as planned.
Speaking on the final day of last week’s test, once the livery had been changed, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said the team would be able to survive without the Mazepins’ money.
“Financially we are OK,” Steiner said last week. “It has no implementation on the team, how we are running it, how we are doing, how we plan the season.
“There are more ways to get the funding. So there’s no issue with that.”
F1 announced Thursday that it had terminated its deal to hold a race in Russia, meaning the country will not host a grand prix for the foreseeable future.