Rich Energy defend Mazepin: Nikita is a ‘talented young driver who has done nothing wrong’

Nikita Mazepin's future in Formula 1 looks under threat following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Following William Storey’s condemnation of Jeremy Clarkson’s personal attack on Nikita Mazepin following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Rich Energy themselves have now moved to defend the Haas driver.

After several months of rising tensions between the countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Kremlin to invade and attack Ukraine in what has been labelled a “barbaric” and “unprovoked” assault.

Fresh waves of sanctions have been issued against Moscow from a multitude of countries in the days since Thursday’s invasion as the conflict enters its sixth day.

Uralkali, who were name partners of the Haas team last season, had all of their branding removed from the cars, trucks and motorhomes during testing in Barcelona as Dmitry Mazepin, Nikita’s father, is an Oligarch who owns a share in the Russia-based business. He is also said to be one of 37 businessmen who met with Putin in Moscow on Thursday.

His money paid for the 22-year-old’s seat, but this is now under threat due to the potential severance of Uralkali’s partnership with the Banbury-based squad.

FIA President Mohammed ben Sulayem also revealed that the motorsport governing body are today holding an emergency meting after Ukraine called for all Russian superlicences to be revoked.

Were this to happen, Mazepin would be left out of a seat and Robert Shwartzman and Daniil Kvyat would be among other Russian racing drivers affected.

Clarkson took to Twitter to launch a tirade against the 22-year-old, using an ableist slur to describe him and telling him to “go and race in Russia on your own. You’d still lose.”

CEO of Rich Energy, William Storey, responded to the 61-year-old, repeating the slur back at him and accusing him of bulling Mazepin for “populism.”

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The official Rich Energy account has now also gotten involved, saying: “Mazepin is a talented young driver who has done nothing wrong. Jeremy Clarkson demeans himself with such comments. Conflating sport & politics is inherently flawed.”

Regarding the partnership with Ukralkali, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner revealed that talks are ongoing between the two parties, and confirmed that the sponsor will not be returning to the car ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

“We informed them about what we did and why we did it. For us that was the best thing to do with the current situation in Ukraine,” he told Sky Italia.

“We have other resources, we go on as we planned at the beginning of the year. We took off some stickers, that’s what we did here for these tests.

“Then this week the talks will go on but at the moment for sure we will not put on the car our main sponsor in Bahrain.”

He concedes that there is a “risk” of the team losing their title sponsor, but could not go into any more detail for legal reasons.

The Italian has previously suggested that Haas’ future remains secure should they lose Uralkali.