Former Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin has not ruled himself out of a return to the pinnacle of motorsport after he was sacked by Haas at the start of the season.
Mazepin was set to enter his second year in the sport with the American side, but Russian president Vladimir Putin started a war with Ukraine, incurring multiple sanctions from Europe and America.
The FIA also took action, banning Russian and Belarusian flags, symbols appearing in global motorsport and stipulating that competitors from those countries are to race in a neutral capacity.
The banning of any Russian sponsors meant that it was virtually impossible for Uralkali – Dmitry’s company that funded his son Nikita’s drive – to continue sponsoring Haas.
The team ended the relationship, and Mazepin was ousted as a result, before both he and his father were sanctioned by the European Union for their connections with Putin.
However, the 23-year-old has been keeping fit, and hopes that he will be able to compete in F1 again.
“I have confidence that in the future it will be possible to return,” he told Express-Sport in Russia.
“Therefore, I am at the same weight and have kept myself in good physical shape, so if such a challenge arises, I will be able to take advantage of it.”
The governing body drafted up a document for Russian and Belarusian drivers to sign that confirmed their opposition to the war Putin has started, and their compliance with the emergency regulations.
Mazepin duly signed it so was cleared to race on that front, but it was Haas’ decision to cut him off and replace him with the returning Kevin Magnussen.
“I want to note that the FIA allows me under certain conditions,” added Mazepin.
“Sport should unite and athletes from different countries should be able to compete with the best.
“I have always been guided by the principle that when you put on a helmet, you have no skin colour or belong to any particular state.
“Formula 1 is a private business, with the decisions made by the teams themselves.
“At Haas, one and a half people take them – Guenther [Steiner, team principal] and Gene [Haas, team owner] when he is interested.
“Therefore, I would not associate my situation with Formula 1. They did not exclude me from anything.”
As a result, it is entirely possible that the young Russian may one day find a way back in.
“Top teams are worth several billion dollars and I think that someday I will come to be a part of this industry as a businessman, but I’m not going to rush into it.”
It is difficult to predict if or when Russian aggression will cease and the war will come to an end, but the culmination of the violence will likely determine whether the world’s top series start letting Russian and Belarusian racers back in.
There is always plenty more availability in IndyCar than there is in F1, but Mazepin does not care for that.
“I’m not interested in Indycar,” he stated.
“Of course, I cannot say what will happen tomorrow but all my life I wanted to get into Formula 1.
“I got there, but as they say, appetite comes with eating and I have no doubt about what I could do in a competitive car.”
Magnussen has scored points on three occasions since his return this year, and his 15 points leave Haas ninth in the Constructors’ Championship.
Mick Schumacher still awaits his first F1 points having arrived alongside Mazepin last season.