Haas driver Nikita Mazepin has said he is just trying to do the best he can under the circumstances as doubt continues to loom over his future in Formula 1.
Mazepin’s native Russia took the “unprovoked” decision on Thursday to invade neighbouring Ukraine following weeks of escalating tensions.
As a result of the war in Eastern Europe, Haas took the decision on Thursday evening to remove Uralkali branding from their car, while F1 released a statement confirming that it is currently “impossible” to hold a grand prix in Sochi later this year.
Mazepin’s father, Dmitry, owns shares in Uralkali, and is understood to be one of 37 businessmen to have met with Russian President Vladimir Putin recently.
It is as yet unknown whether the two parties have completely severed their partnership but if they have, the 22-year-old may be left without the seat his father paid for.
Amid speculation that he could be dropped, the Russian took to Twitter to explain that his future is out of his hands.
“To my fans and followers – it’s a difficult time and I am not in control over a lot of what is being said and done,” he wrote.
“I’m choosing to focus on what I CAN control by working hard and doing my best for my @HaasF1Team. My deepest thanks for your understanding and support.”
Team principal Guenther Steiner said on Friday that Haas’ relationship with Uralkali will have to be resolved “next week” and concedes that there are “external” factors that are out of his control.
“There are legal issues we have to go through and then we see what comes out,” he told Sky Sports.
“At the moment, we want to continue but there are external things which could happen that I cannot control.
“[Asking] me exactly what will happen in the next weeks or months, I do not know. He was here for testing this morning.”
Running an all-white livery having removed the blue and red – symbolic of the Russian flag – Mazepin managed just nine laps of running on day three of testing.
Explaining Mazepin’s lack of running on Friday, Steiner said:
“Unfortunately, we had an oil leak and we could not do a lot of laps. He plans to be in Bahrain, so there is no change on that one.”
Pietro Fittipaldi, who filled in at Haas for the injured Romain Grosjean in late 2020, would be first in line to replace the Russian should he be dropped, as he is the reserve driver for the Banbury outfit.