Russian Motorsport’s Mazepin, who was fired by Haas, announces a fund to help other marginalized athletes

Qatar Grand Prix
Formula One F1 – Qatar Grand Prix – Losail International Circuit, Lusail, Qatar – November 18, 2021 Nikita Mazepin von Haas during a press conference Pool via REUTERS/Andrej Isakovic

March 9, 2022

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) – Russian driver Nikita Mazepin hit back at the US Haas Formula One team on Wednesday for sacking him after his country’s invasion of Ukraine, and announced a foundation to support athletes who cannot compete due to war or politics.

The 23-year-old told reporters in a video call from Moscow that the We Compete as One foundation is being funded by funds transferred to Haas by Uralkali, his billionaire father Dmitry’s Russian potash company.

Uralkali separately said it has already paid most of the now-terminated 2022 title sponsorship to Haas and will seek an immediate repayment, while reserving the right to seek damages.

No financial details were available and team title sponsorship deals are confidential.

Mazepin said there has been no contact with his former bosses or former teammates Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time world champion Michael.

“In situations like this you can see the true colors of everyone around you,” said the Russian, who had some moments of tension with his team-mate last year after being outclassed by the German.

Others, including Mercedes’ George Russell and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, had sent “very simple” personal messages of support, he added.

“They know how important sport is to them, to their lives. They helped me feel with me that I missed this opportunity to compete,” Mazepin said. “Nothing political. Personal only, cheer up.

“It was exactly what I think a good person should do.”

He didn’t talk about war or politics.

Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, has said Russian and Belarusian drivers can continue to compete in a neutral capacity.

Mazepin said he intended to do so, citing the example of tennis player Daniil Medvedev, who was allowed to continue playing but not under the Russian flag.

He said he has not given up on his dreams of competing in Formula 1, would stay in racing shape, ready for any opportunity and has no plans to apply for a license in any other country.

The foundation, whose name reflects F1’s We Race as One initiative to promote diversity and equality, would initially help Russian Paralympic athletes sent home from the Beijing Games, he added.

“The foundation will allocate resources … to those athletes who have spent their lives preparing for the Olympics or Paralympics or other top events, only to find they have been banned from participating and penalized collectively just for passing.” owned,” he said.

Mazepin, who would have been Russia’s only F1 driver that year and whose career was funded by his father, said the foundation plans to help athletes from all conflict zones.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted sanctions on sports around the world, and Belarus, a key theater of the full-scale invasion, has also been penalized.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Editing by Nick Macfie) Russian Motorsport’s Mazepin, who was fired by Haas, announces a fund to help other marginalized athletes


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