‘Patently ridiculous’: Source slams Haas for refusing to return sponsorship payment

Haas ended their partnership with Uralkali following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Haas have denied Uralkali’s request to reimburse them the money they gave to the team at the beginning of 2022 before their partnership was severed.

Uralkali became name partner of the Haas team last year when Dmitry Mazepin, a Russian oligarch with close links to Vladimir Putin, brought his son Nikita into the sport and paid for his drive.

The livery was changed to a red, white and blue scheme – symbolic of the Russian flag – but Russia’s war on Ukraine, in Haas’ minds, contravene their clause in the contract that Uralkali are not to “injure, bring into dispute, ridicule, or lessen the public reputation, goodwill of favourable image of Haas.”

Consequently, they cut their ties with the potash producer and sacked Mazepin, who has since been sanctioned by the European Union along with his father due to their proximity to Putin.

Mazepin’s firm then stated their intention to claim back the money they had already deposited into the American team’s account.

“Uralkali intends to protect its interests in line with applicable legal procedures and reserves its rights to initiate judicial proceedings, claim damages and seek repayment of the significant amounts Uralkali had paid for the 2022 Formula 1 season,” they stated.

Haas, however, insist that they are not legally obligated to return the money Uralkali have paid them this year.

“According to unanimous legal scholars and case law, the party which terminates the agreement for breach of the other party is under no obligation to return to such party what it has already received under the agreement,” they said.

“The claim of Uralkali to obtain the re-payment of the down paid amount of EUR 12,000,000 is therefore ungrounded and rejected.”

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The Russian firm also has a clause in the contract dictating that they are to be given one of Mazepin’s cars from last year, but the Banbury-based squad affirm that they have no intention of handing it over until Uralkali pay them the eight million euros they were contractually obliged to before the contract came to an end.

“Unless and until the aforesaid amount will have been paid to Haas no obligation exists on Haas’ side to deliver and no delivery of the F1 car will occur,” they added.

A source close to the dispute has criticised Haas, who have insinuated that they would like the rest of the money paid to them this year as the partnership would have yielded profits for the team had Putin not decided to invade Ukraine.

They are also perplexed that Gene Haas’ team feel no compunction as to their refusal to reimburse Uralkali’s money.

“Everyone understands the world is in a difficult situation, but it is patently ridiculous to argue that Haas is entitled to keep money paid from a contract it exited unilaterally, without rendering any of the agreed upon services,” they said.

“They seem to be fine with spending Russian money – and even are asking for more – but don’t want to have any Russians around.

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“It’s a truly shocking treatment toward a title sponsor who stepped up last season when the team badly needed resources and who had offered to go above and beyond the contracted amounts to provide additional bonuses to team staff to achieve better results for all involved.”

Mazepin was replaced by the returning Kevin Magnussen, who has scored points in two of the opening three rounds of the 2022 season in the much-improved Haas car under the new technical regulations.