Nikita Mazepin's Formula 1 career could be over after just one season.
Haas F1 announced early Saturday morning that it was cutting ties with Mazepin and team sponsor Uralkali because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions that have come as a result. The Russian fertilizer producer is partially owned by Dmitry Mazepin, Mazepin's father and a Russian oligarch.
"Haas F1 team has elected to terminate, with immediate effect, the title partnership of Uralkali, and the driver contract of Nikita Mazepin. As with the rest of the Formula 1 community, the team is shocked and saddened by the invasion of Ukraine and wishes for a swift and peaceful end to the conflict."
The invasion of Ukraine came during preseason testing in Barcelona and led Haas to run the final day of testing without the Uralkali colors on its cars and hauler. Haas made it clear right after the invasion happened that Mazepin's spot with the team was up in the air.
Haas moved on from Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean after the 2020 season in favor of rookies Mick Schumacher and Mazepin. The move to hire Mazepin was due, at least partially, to the sponsorship dollars that he would bring from Uralkali.
“Dear fans and followers, I am very disappointed to hear that my F1 contract has been terminated,” Mazepin wrote. “While I understand the difficulties, the ruling from FIA plus my ongoing willingness to accept the conditions proposed in order to continue were completely ignored and no process was followed in this unilateral step. To those who have tried to understand, my eternal thanks. I have treasured my time in F1 and genuinely hope we can all be together again in better times. I will have more to say in the coming days.”
Ukraine's racing federation had asked the FIA to ban Russian drivers from competing. That request was denied, though Britain moved to not allow Russian drivers in its races, meaning that Mazepin could have missed the British Grand Prix if he had kept his seat at Haas. Mazepin's claim that no process was followed and that Haas' termination was a "unilateral step" is rich with irony given Russia's unilateral step of an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine led to Mazepin losing his seat. It also led to Russia losing its grand prix. F1 previously announced that there would be no Russian Grand Prix in 2022 because of the invasion.
Mazepin didn't score a point in 2021
Mazepin struggled in his only F1 season. His best finish of the season was 14th twice in the 20-car field and he finished last four times. Mazepin also qualified on the back row of the grid for 11 of his 21 starts. He missed the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix because of COVID-19.
Mazepin kept his seat at Haas for the 2021 season after he posted a video to his Instagram story in December 2020 in which he appeared to grope a woman in a car. Haas condemned his actions in the video in a statement and Mazepin issued an apology.
Haas had the worst car on the grid in 2021 as it looked to allocate its resources for the development of the 2022 car. Schumacher will remain with the team and drive his No. 47 car in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20. A replacement for Mazepin hasn't been announced and the likely candidate is the team's reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi.