Mazepin sets up ‘We Compete As One’ organisation after being sacked by Haas

Nikita Mazepin has been replaced by Kevin Magnussen at Haas amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Following the termination of his contract with Haas, Russian driver Nikita Mazepin has set up an organisation that seeks to helps Russian and Belarusian drivers who have been affected by the war Russia has started on Ukraine.

Following months of tension after Vladimir Putin ordered thousands of troops to the Ukrainian border, he ordered a full-scale invasion on the 24 February, and the conflict has now descended into a war.

Motorsport’s response was a swift one. They FIA announced the cancellation of the Russian Grand Prix, and ruled that all branding from Russian and Belarusian countries was not to appear in FIA sanctioned events globally.

Further, any competitors and drivers from either of the two counties may only compete as long as they do so under a neutral flag.

Daniil Kvyat and his European Le Mans G-Drive team refused to sign a document confirming their compliance with these rules and, since their appearance in motorsport is contingent, they will not be able to contest any races this season.

Mazepin did sign, but Haas removed Uralkali as their sponsor, meaning that the 22-year-old’s contract was terminated because he father Dmitry part owns the Russia-based firm and paid for his son’s seat last season.

Having co-operated with the FIA, the 23-year-old is disappointed in his now former team for letting him go.

“The decision from Haas was not based either on any directive from the sport’s governing body authority, or dictated by any sanctions that were placed against either me or my father, or his company,” he said

“And, of course, I don’t feel this is fair.”

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He then theorised that sport should not mix with politics, and that sportspeople should not be punished for the actions of their country’s leaders.

“But there is something more important here. I ask the question, is there no place at all for neutrality in sports?” he pondered.

“Does an athlete have a right not to just an opinion, but to keep the opinion out of the public space? Should an athlete be punished for that? And do we want the sports to become just another public square for protests and political debate?

“We all know cases where one country refuses to compete with another in the Olympics because of their political disagreements.”

He cited a boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow by the United States due to the Soviet Union’s operations in Afghanistan, before the Soviet Union themselves responded by skipping the games four years later in Los Angeles.

“We saw in the 1980s that a generation of athletes lost their dreams and the chance to compete at the highest level when countries started boycotting one another,” he continued.

“Is this where we want the sports to be? Or are sports a way to bring people together, even at the toughest times, and especially at the toughest times. My experience in the last few days has greatly informed my thinking on these questions.”

As a result, he has set up an organisation named “We Compete As One,” emphasising that the longevity of an athlete’s career is short, and it is therefore distressing to see athletes punished for political reasons.

“We all know that the career of an athlete is a short one, and that it requires years of intense sacrifice to perform at the highest level,” he stated.

“When that final reward is taken away, it is devastating and no one is thinking what happens next to these athletes. I will be addressing this.

“The foundation will allocate resources to those athletes who have spent their lives preparing for Olympics or Paralympics or other top events only to find they were forbidden from competing and collectively punished just because of the passports they held.”

Motorsport UK has placed a complete ban on Russian and Belarusian competitors partaking in events in the country, which the Russian automobile federation (RAF) labelled as “discrimination.”

The Moscow-born racer has been replaced by Kevin Magnussen, with the Dane returning to Haas following a year out.