‘I didn’t talk to him’: Haas boss opens up on Mazepin’s sacking

Nikita Mazepin was ejected from Formula 1 as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner is unsure whether he feels any sympathy for Nikita Mazepin following his sacking from the team.

Mazepin claimed two race wins in the 2020 Formula 2 season, and made his way into Formula 1 by virtue of his father Dmitry’s money, a Russian oligarch who part owns the Russia-based Uralkali firm that became name partner of Haas in 2021.

However, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many national sporting governing bodies are starting to prohibit Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing, and the FIA placed a ban on all Russian and Belarusian branding appearing in international motorsport.

This, coupled with heavy financial sanctions being placed upon many Russians – including the Mazepins – made the relationship between the parties impossible to sustain, meaning Haas dropped Uralklai and the 23-year-old lost his seat.

He later revealed that he had set up an organisation called “we compete as one” to help athletes from Russia and Belarus who are suffering as a result of Vadimir Putin’s actions, before recalling that he had learned about his departure from the pinnacle of motorsport through the same channels as the rest of us did.

Steiner regrets that the career of the young Russian ended the way it did, but maintains that the circumstances are out of his control.

“[You are] always sorry when you have to do something like that,” he told RTL, before conceding that it is “difficult to say” whether he sympathises with the Russian’s situation.

“The external circumstances, which neither I nor he can change, are just the way they are. You have to live with it and move on. I see it as part of life.”

He disclosed that he let Mazepin know of his dismissal “in writing,” but no verbal contact was made between the pair.

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“I only did it in writing. I didn’t talk to him,” he explained after the Moscow-born racer stated that there is no longer any “trust” between him and the Banbury-based squad.

Ultimately, with pressure being applied to team owner Gene Haas by sponsors and Motorsport UK ruling that Mazepin would have been blocked from contesting the British Grand Prix, Steiner affirms that a decision had to be made.

“You have to draw the conclusions,” he stated.

“The last two or three weeks have been quite exhausting and tedious. [But] the worst should be over. It can only go up. We are always good for a surprise when there is drama!”

Haas have re-signed Kevin Magnussen to replace the Russian after the 29-year-old left at the end of 2020 to race in IMSA.

He seemed relatively disenfranchised by the pinnacle of motorsport when he left, but he was delighted when they asked him to return.

“I was very surprised but equally delighted to receive the call from Haas. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of an F1 car,” he said, before thanking Gene Haas and Steiner for the opportunity.