Haas has launched its 2021 livery that features the Russian flag following the announcement of a title sponsorship deal with Uralkali — a company controlled by Nikita Mazepin’s father.
The American team has changed its business model in the past 18 months, limiting car development and opting for heavily-backed drivers to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Mazepin will be partnered by Ferrari young driver Mick Schumacher this season and the pair will be in a very different-looking car to the past as Uralkali title sponsorship has led to what the team describes as “a new predominantly white livery with significant Uralkali branding.”
The title sponsorship deal with international potash fertilizer producer Uralkali is named as a multi-year agreement, although Haas branding remains prominent on the sidepod and there are additional decals for web hosting and internet service provider 1&1.
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) March 4, 2021
The VF-21’s livery was shown off on Thursday morning but the car itself will not be seen until pre-season testing, with a rollout taking place in Bahrain ahead of running. The car will also not be fired up until next week, with travel restrictions preventing Ferrari from doing so in the United Kingdom.
Haas will officially be known as Uralkali Haas F1 Team as part of the deal, with team owner Gene Haas saying his main focus is on 2022 as the new car is not set to be developed during the year.
“I’m very pleased to welcome Uralkali to Formula 1 as title partner to Haas F1 Team,” Haas said. “We look forward to representing their brand throughout the season.
“It’s an exciting time for the team with Uralkali coming onboard and having Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher driving for us. It’s definitely a case of all change but I’m hoping that we get back to being in the mix for scoring some points at these races. It’s been a tough couple of seasons, but we’ve also got our eye on the bigger picture, in particular 2022 and the implementation of the new regulations.”
While the Russian flag features heavily in the livery design, Mazepin himself will not be allowed to race under the Russian flag this year. A ban on the country using its name, flag, and anthem when competing in world championship events — relating to allegations of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups at the 2014 Winter Olympics — was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in December and extends to the FIA’s series.
As a result, Mazepin will have to race as a “neutral athlete from Russia” or similar, and is not allowed to display the Russian flag or name as athletes are prohibited from doing so by CAS “on their clothes, equipment or other personal items or in a publicly visible manner at any official venues.”