Two more drivers appear in race for Mazepin’s Haas seat

Nikita Mazepin lost his seat with Haas due to Russia's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

Two more drivers have emerged as potential replacements for Haas’ Nikita Mazepin after the Russian was ejected from his seat following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to cross the border and begin a full-scale invasion of the neighbouring country, he came under global condemnation, and Haas took the decision to remove Uralkali branding from their car.

The Russia-based company is partly owned by Mazepin’s father Dmitry, and it is the oligarch’s money that paid for the 23-year-old’s seat in his rookie season in 2021.

Until Russia’s war on Ukraine began, the young Russian had looked set to partner Mick Schumacher once again this year, but heavy financial restrictions on the country made it almost impossible for Uralkali to continue to support Haas.

As a result, the Banbury squad ended their partnership with firm and terminated Mazepin’s contract.

The Russian then claimed that his compliance with new FIA regulations around Russian and Belarusian drivers was “completely ignored” by his team and that “no process was followed in this unilateral step.”

Team principal Guenther Steiner has previously stated that Pietro Fittipaldi, who stepped in for the injured Romain Grosjean in late 2020, would be the first driver in line to take up the vacant seat.

“If Nikita couldn’t drive, for one or another reason, the first call will go to Pietro,” he told Bob Varsha.

“Obviously, [Fittipaldi has been] with us for a few years, and then we would see what we do next.

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“But I mean Pietro is always around with us for a reason. The last years, we needed a reserve driver, having COVID around, so he is always around.

“He knows the team, he knows the car to jump in for one day to the other. There is nobody better than Pietro around at the moment.”

However, BBC journalist Andrew Benson wonders if Gene Haas’ squad might go down another route, and has suggested that Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri and current F2 driver Jason Daruvala, who is backed by Red Bull, are also under consideration.

Piastri took six wins on his way to championship victory in the feeder series last year, while Daruvala claimed two of his own.

The Australian is part of the Alpine academy, and was unable to get a seat for 2022 after Guanyu Zhou, another Alpine academy driver who ended the F2 championship third in 2021, was signed by Alfa Romeo. got in contact with Sergio Rodriguez, who broke reports that Mazepin was set to be replaced, and he told us that the Brazilian will be in the car at the first race of the season in Bahrain.

“Pietro will start the season but can ensure that he will stay more than a couple of races,” he said.