Guenther Steiner breaks silence on Vladimir Putin’s ‘f***ing war’

Nikita Mazepin and team sponsor Uralkali were dropped by Haas in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has recounted the moment he decided to severe ties with Nikita Mazepin and his father’s company, team sponsor Uralkali.

In his new book, ‘Surviving to Driver: A Year Inside Formula 1’, Steiner reveals how the news of Russia’s invasion led him to turn off his phone to avoid having to respond to questions over the team’s connection to the Mazepin family.

“I woke up to the news that Russia has now invaded Ukraine,” Steiner wrote. 

“Oh great! I obviously feel very sorry for the people who are directly affected by this but I can only look after my own ship, you know? When it comes to motorsport, all eyes are on us at the moment. 

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

“I didn’t even turn my phone on until after I got to the track this morning as I knew it would be ringing off the hook. When I eventually turned it on there were over a hundred texts and about seventy voice messages.

“I had to have a very difficult conversation with Nikita Mazepin, our driver. 

“I know that his father, Dmitry, who is the majority shareholder of our main sponsor, Uralkali, is close to Vladimir Putin and, at the end of the day, I don’t want our team to be associated with someone who starts a f***ing war, you know?

“Nikita said that he wasn’t interested in politics and just wanted to drive. 

Article continues below

“I understand and appreciate what he’s saying but it’s a bit bigger than that. It’s so difficult for everyone.

“I went to my office for a board meeting. They wanted to know what I thought, as team principal, so I told them. 

“’Drop the Uralkali branding’, I said. ‘Change the livery to white and tell the whole f***ing world that is what we have done’. Every single board member agreed with me and so the meeting was over in a couple of minutes.”

Haas would swiftly replace Mazepin with Kevin Magnussen, bringing the driver back to the team despite Steiner firing him at the end of the 2020 season.

READ: Ex-team boss reveals hilarious Kimi Raikkonen story

Magnussen’s return sparked a turnaround for Haas, which has gone from strength to strength since the start of the 2022 season.

In his first race back at the team, Magnussen finished fifth, one of only five times Haas has finished in the top five.

Magnussen would repeat his point-scoring feat at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, finishing in P9, the first time Haas has secured consecutive points since 2019.