Nikita Mazepin looks set to lose his seat at Haas while Uralkali’s title partnership will be addressed next week, according to team principal Guenther Steiner, who insists the team’s own future is secure.
Haas dropped the Uralkali branding and livery influence on its car for the final day of pre-season testing in Barcelona (pictured above), also removing mentions of the Russian company — run by Dmitry Mazepin who has links to Vladimir Putin — from its trucks and motorhome. Speaking about the team’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Steiner says it will be working out Mazepin and Uralkali’s futures next week.
“We removed (the branding) yesterday — we have to sort out all the legal stuff, which I cannot speak about, next week,” Steiner said. “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.
“Yes, (Mazepin’s future) 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.
“He (Mazepin) puts a tough face on it. For sure it bothers him, because it’s his own country, Russia. About guarantees, there are no guarantees anywhere — as I said before we need to see how this whole thing develops.”
Mazepin’s seat is closely tied to the Uralkali sponsorship but it is not a certainty he would be dropped immediately. Should he lose his drive before the next test in Bahrain, Pietro Fittipaldi is likely to test for the team alongside Mick Schumacher.
With team owner Gene Haas fully behind the decision, Steiner says there is no major financial concern resulting from the situation, and he doesn’t believe it will impact the team’s on-track preparations for the new season.
“Nobody planned this so we had to take a decision because we have got more partners now, as well, and I think this was the right decision. There is no setback for the competition side of the team because of this, none at all — we just need to go through the commercial issues. We will go through that in the next weeks. But as for the to-do list, nothing more.
“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.”
Steiner also clarified he has had no fresh discussions with either Michael or Mario Andretti about its attempts to enter F1 amid the ongoing uncertainty over team sponsorship.