Legal proceedings are ongoing between Haas and former title sponsor Uralkali following a request from Dmitry Mazepin’s company for a refund of $13 million of its canceled sponsorship.
Haas terminated the partnership in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Mazepin Sr. one of the oligarchs who met with Vladimir Putin as the war was launched. Since then, both Dmitry and former Haas driver Nikita Mazepin — who also lost his drive with the team — have been hit with sanctions, but Uralkali has requested the repayment of sponsorship monies delivered in advance of the 2022 season.
Team principal Guenther Steiner would not be drawn on the latest developments regarding the dispute when questioned at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, but confirmed legal proceedings are continuing.
“I don’t want to comment on that — it’s a legal situation and confidentiality I respect because that’s what it should be,” Steiner said. “So I don’t want to come out here publicly, ‘We said that, they said that.’ If it is true or not, you guys can read up and see what was said and make your own opinion. I don’t want to be in a position to comment publicly on our legal issues with our former sponsor.
“I have no idea (if it’s going to court) … Obviously as we all know it is not an easy situation now with these sanctions and stuff, but I don’t have the details. I leave that one in the good lawyers’ hands to deal with, because it is a full-time job to find out these things. I just have to wait for the next steps in the legal process.”
Regardless of the Uralkali situation, Steiner says Haas is in a position of strength when it comes to sponsors but doesn’t want to rush any decisions on new deals.
“We are obviously always looking for sponsors; there is a lot of movement, but we don’t want to jump immediately onto the next one. We want to take our time, do our due diligence, make a good decision. We are in a safe place at the moment so there is no point to rush into anything which we maybe regret in six months’ time.
“We are waiting for the best package — it’s a combination of things. The best offer, the best sponsor…maybe you take a deal today that you find out in six months you shouldn’t have done. Sometimes it’s attractive: ‘Oh, we need to do it in two weeks to get ready’ and all that stuff.
“It’s sometimes better to sit back and talk to these people correctly, because if somebody is really interested they can wait three or six months. It’s not a rush, and if we feel the deal is not good enough going forward, we don’t have to do a deal this year — it’s not a must.
“We announced a smaller sponsor (yesterday, with B2B service provider TransferMate Global Payments) — there is stuff coming in but it needs to be right. That deal with TransferMate took two months to get done, but these are all deals which help the team.”