The future of Russian driver Nikita Mazepin at the Haas Formula One team is in doubt after the team confirmed it would make a decision on its Uralkali sponsorship deal, which funds Mazepin’s position at the team, next week.

Haas took part in preseason testing with a plain white car on Friday after dropping Russian company Uralkali’s branding and logo from its car following Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

On Friday, F1 cancelled September’s Russian Grand Prix.

Russian troops continued their advance into Ukraine on Friday, which has caused widespread condemnation and sanctions from world leaders.

Uralkali founder Dmitry Mazepin, the father of Nikita, was one of the business leaders who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on Thursday to discuss the sanctions placed on the country.

When asked on Nikita Mazepin’s status during a Friday media call, Haas team boss Guenther Steiner said, “It needs to be resolved.

“Not everything depends from us here what is happening. There’s governments involved, I have no power over them, and we also need to see how the situation develops in Ukraine.”

Shortly after Steiner spoke to the media on Friday, Nikita Mazepin tweeted: “To my fans and followers — it’s a difficult time and I am not in control over a lot of what is being said and done.

“I’m choosing to focus on what I CAN control by working hard and doing my best for @HaasF1Team.

“My deepest thanks for your understanding and support.”

Steiner said the team had not been in touch with Michael Andretti at any point on Thursday. Andretti is looking to join F1 with his own team in 2024, but many have suggested he might be a viable replacement for Uralkali if Haas needed to find a new title partner for this season.

He also said the team has not been contacted by the U.S. government about the sponsorship.

Discussions around the Mazepin and Uralkali situation will continue into next week. The next time Haas will be on track after Friday is March 8, when the second preseason test begins in Bahrain.

“We have to sort out all the legal stuff,” Steiner said. “We will work through it next week.

“I’m not going to go through it today, we made the decision yesterday with our team partners that this is what we’re going to do. I need to work on the rest next week.”

The Uralkali contract played a key role in Haas staying on the grid in 2020, but Steiner said he has assured everyone working at the team that its future is safe regardless of what happens with the Uralkali deal.

Asked about how much of a hit it would be financially, he said: “It is a headache, but it’s not something which disturbs the team on the competition side.

“Financially we are OK. 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.”

Haas spent much of Thursday deciding a course of action and confirmed in the evening the branding would come off the car for Friday’s session, a decision delayed by the time difference to Haas Automation’s headquarters in California.

Steiner said the team wanted to ensure it responded in the correct fashion.

“We haven’t been planning for this because until it happens… obviously we monitored the situation, we are not sitting there ignorantly waiting for something to happen,” he said.

“When it happens you need to see how it develops. I’ve never experienced something like this, so I didn’t know how it would go down.

“We’ll manage it in the same way going forward.”


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