Antonio Giovinazzi’s name has been thrown in the ring as a possible replacement should Nikita Mazepin lose his seat at Haas amid the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, and over half a million people have been displaced by the conflict thus far.
Mazepin entered Formula 1 as a rookie last year as part of a deal between Haas and Uralkali – the Russian firm in which Mazepin’s father Dmitry owns shares.
The money from the oligarch paid for the 22-year-old’s drive, but Ukralkali had all of their branding removed from the Haas car during pre-season testing in Barcelona in response to the horrifying events in Eastern Europe.
The contractual uncertainty between the two parties leaves doubt over the future of the young Russian, who may also be the subject of a Russian superlicense revocation which was discussed by the FIA yesterday.
Team principal Guenther Steiner revealed that the decision to remove Uralkali branding has little impact on the team, but Mazepin’s future is an urgent matter that needs sorting.
“Nobody planned this so we had to take a decision as we have more partners now, and this was the right decision,” he said, as quoted by Motorsport Week.
“There is no setback for the competition side, 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 [Mazepin’s future] needs to be resolved, I said it before, 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.”
Steiner admits he does not know what will happen to his driver, but reveals that the situation between his homeland and Ukraine affects him more than he is letting on.
“He puts a tough face on it. For sure it bothers him, his own country, Russia. About guarantees, no guarantees anywhere, as I said before we need to see how this develops.
“There’s more than F1 teams here, there’s governments, so I have no guarantees from that side.”
Were the two-time Formula 2 race winner to lose his seat, Steiner has previously affirmed that Pietro Fittipaldi would be the first in line to step up having deputised for the injured Romain Grosjean late in 2020.
“He knows the team, he knows the car. To jump in for one day to the other, there is nobody better than Pietro around at the moment,” he stated.
Now though, reports have suggested that former Sauber and Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi could be in line.
This eventuality is “much more likely” according to the Italia edition of Motorsport.com.
Giovinazzi is a Ferrari test and reserve driver this season alongside Mick Schumacher, so he could be drafted in with the “support of Ferrari,” given that Haas are a Ferrari customer.
Having departed Alfa Romeo at the end of 2021, the 28-year-old joined the Dragon Penske Formula E team, but he and team-mate Sergio Sette Camara have had a troublesome car and have yet to score points in the opening three rounds of the season.
The report from Motorsport.com would suggest that there is a clause in the Italian’s contract that allows him to return to the pinnacle of motorsport should the opportunity present itself.
“Giovinazzi has recently started his Formula E program with the Dragon team, there is always an exit clause that would allow him to close contracts and seize the opportunity quickly,” said the report.
Steiner has already confirmed that Ukralkali will not be appearing on the Haas car at the first race in Bahrain, but Mazepin’s future remains in the balance.