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Nikita Mazepin: Haas terminate Russian driver’s contract with immediate effect

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Haas’ decision to terminate Nikita Mazepin’s contract comes after the FIA stated that Russian and Belarusian athletes could compete in their events under a neutral flag; Haas have also terminated their partnership with title sponsor Uralkali, the Russian company owned by Mazepin’s father

Last Updated: 05/03/22 10:01am

Haas have confirmed they are replacing Nikita Mazepin

Russian driver Nikita Mazepin will not race in Formula 1 this season after Haas confirmed they had terminated his contract.

US-owned team Haas had been under immense pressure to act on Mazepin’s future following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with sport around the world cutting ties with the country.

While the FIA, F1’s governing body, had stated that Russian and Belarusian athletes could compete in their events under a neutral flag, Haas have confirmed they are replacing Mazepin – the only driver from Russia or Belarus on the F1 grid.

Haas have also terminated their partnership with title sponsor Uralkali, the Russian company owned by Mazepin’s father.

“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,” Haas said in a statement.

Haas have previously indicated that test driver Pietro Fittipaldi would be first option to replace Mazepin.

Fittipaldi, 25 and the grandson of Brazilian F1 world champion Emerson, has filled in for Haas before, driving in place of Romain Grosjean for two races at the end of 2020.

Who could replace Mazepin at Haas?

Pietro Fittipaldi
Fittipaldi is the most likely solution for Haas. He’s driven for them before, replacing Romain Grosjean for two races after his crash at the end of 2020, and is their official reserve driver – a role which exists in case a team needs someone to fill in for one of their main stars.

He wouldn’t exactly be the most exciting long-term candidate, though. While Pietro – grandson of former world champion Emerson – shone as a junior, his single-seater results haven’t been great since breaking both legs in a WEC crash in 2018, and he is now 25 years old.

Oscar Piastri
If Haas are looking for the most talented youngster not on the F1 grid, they can surely look no further than Piastri.

The Australian, 20, has enjoyed astounding success already – winning three titles in the last three years – and his domination of last year’s F2 championship really should have landed him an F1 seat this season. Unfortunately for Piastri, there weren’t too many seats available – and the one that was at Alfa Romeo went to fellow F2 driver Guanyu Zhou.

Money was likely a big factor in that decision but – while Haas may still need a driver with financial backing – Mazepin’s exit could open the door for Piastri, who Alpine would surely release from his reserve driver duties.

Antonio Giovinazzi
Giovinazzi is arguably the most logical fit for Haas right now.

The Italian was rather unlucky to lose his F1 seat this year after three years of steady improvement at Alfa Romeo, where he was more than a match for former world champion Kimi Raikkonen. Giovinazzi is also Ferrari-backed, would be a great measuring stick for Mick Schumacher, and at 28 is entering his prime years.

Giovinazzi does have a Formula E drive this season, but he was desperate to remain in F1 and so would surely jump at the opportunity to return.

Callum Ilott
On paper, Ilott ticks a lot of boxes. He’s a decent mix of youth and experience – 23 years old but with F2 success and F1 reserve and practice duties under his belt – is part of the Ferrari driver academy, and has proved before that he can go toe to toe with Mick Schumacher.

The main issue counting against Ilott is the fact he is signed up to IndyCar for 2022 with Juncos Hollinger Racing.

Kevin Magnussen
Magnussen certainly has the talent to get back on the F1 grid and is a proven quantity in the sport, a successful and popular driver for Haas for four years before his departure in 2020. The problem with K-Mag has always been funding, while his motivation to return to the sport to battle at the back again may not be sky-high.

Nico Hulkenberg
The list wouldn’t be complete without Hulkenberg’s name being thrown into the mix. Ever since leaving F1 in 2019, Hulkenberg has been linked with countless drives, his reputation aided by his stellar points-scoring efforts in 2020 when filling in for Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll at Racing Point.

Hulkenberg has plenty of experience, 179 Grands Prix to be exact, and pace – although Haas may well look for a younger option at this stage, while Aston Martin may not want to relinquish him from reserve duties.

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