Nikita Mazepin says he doesn’t trust Haas to provide him with a safe car and so would not drive for the team again in future, despite considering legal action over his contract termination.
Haas opted to end its deals with title sponsor Uralkali and Mazepin at the weekend in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that has led to severe global sanctions being placed on Vladimir Putin’s regime. While Mazepin says he will redeploy the Uralkali backing he receives to a new foundation called ‘We Compete As One’ for athletes hampered by political developments, he says he still has his eyes set on a Formula 1 return — but would not do so with Haas.
“I absolutely do not see F1 as a closed chapter for me,” Mazepin said. “I’m going to stay in race condition and I will be ready to take on an opportunity if it comes, and at the moment I’m only sighting F1 and no other categories.
“It’s good to keep all (legal) options available, but I definitely don’t want to go back to a place which doesn’t want me. And, as you know, F1 is a dangerous sport and you have to rely on and believe in the team you’re working with, it’s a question of safety, and I think it is fair to say I do not have that trust in them.”
Although Mazepin insists he had “unconditionally” agreed to race as a neutral in order to keep his seat, he admitted he hadn’t decided if he could sign the required FIA commitment to do so.
“The night before my contract had been terminated there was an additional letter that had been made and by the time we were processing that letter and looking at options — because there were a lot of clauses in it — the next morning I received a termination in my contract. So there was no time to even say yes to it.
“There has been two stages in the decision of allowing Russian athletes to compete. Firstly when there was an online voting held by the FIA where everybody has had a say, where they have ruled that drivers can compete from those countries if they are neutral. This I am ready to agree with, and I was ready to consider myself neutral, and compete.
“Then if we go to the second time when they have added an additional letter which I had to have it signed, I did not even start looking at it because my contract has been terminated.”