Ditched Haas F1 Team sponsors Uralkali is seeking a refund of the 2022 Formula 1 season budget they have already paid for Nikita Mazepin to drive, but with that not happening the company – owned by Nikita’s billionaire father Dmitry Mazepin – want their money back.
The Russian-Ukraine war put an end to Mazepin’s season before it started. Sanctions have sent Russian oligarchs into a spin as their assets face seizure, while sports have largely banned Russian athletes and teams from competing. Those that are allowed are expected to denounce the Russian flag and carry a neutral one instead.
Mazepin senior, with close ties to Putin, has spent a small fortune getting his son into F1, which included last year’s rookie season with the American team, a second season was due until the Ukraine invasion became a reality.
Today, Uralkali said in a statement: “Uralkali, one of the world’s largest potash producers, and also the title sponsor of Uralkali Haas F1 Team, hereby announces that it was advised by the Team of their unilateral termination of the sponsorship agreement with Uralkali due to the current geopolitical situation.”
Uralkali intends to protect its interests in line with applicable legal procedures
“Uralkali has been for many years contributing considerably towards global food security and providing significant assistance to a whole range of sports associations, organizations and events both in Russia and abroad. The Company views the Team’s decision as unreasonable and believes that sports should always be free of politics and pressure from external factors.
“Uralkali intends to protect its interests in line with applicable legal procedures and reserves its rights to initiate judicial proceedings, claim damages and seek repayment of the significant amounts Uralkali had paid for the 2022 Formula One season.
“As most of the sponsorship funding for the 2022 season has already been transferred to Haas and given that the Team terminated the sponsorship agreement before the first race of the 2022 season, Haas has thus failed to perform its obligations to Uralkali for this year’s season.
“Uralkali shall request the immediate reimbursement of the amounts received by Haas. The refund from Haas and the remaining part of Uralkali’s sponsor financing for 2022 will be used to establish the We Compete As One athlete support foundation.”
Mazepin: I appreciated the small number of drivers who expressed their support for me
Meanwhile, Mazepin junior spoke to PA Media about his plight, revealing he received a message of support from drivers including George Russell following his dismissal by Haas.
He added: “I appreciated the small number of drivers who expressed their support for me. Sergio (Perez), Valtteri (Bottas), Charles (Leclerc) and George (Russell) all contacted me. They know how important the situation is, and they showed their support after I lost the opportunity to compete.
“The messages were nothing political but just on a personal level – to keep my head up because athletes have been broken and lives have been destroyed after a decision like that.”
At the same time, Mazepin announced the creation of the “We Compete As One” foundation to support athletes “forbidden from competing, and collectively punished just because of the passports they hold”.
Mazepin was asked of his father’s connections to Putin, to which he replied: “There have been two stages in the decision of allowing Russian drivers to continue.
“Firstly an online vote held by the FIA where everyone had a say and they ruled drivers from Russia and Belarus could compete if they are neutral. I was ready to agree with this and consider myself neutral,” affirmed the 23-year-old Moscowvite.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Dmitry Mazepin is a shareholder of Hitech Grand Prix, which provided the ladder for his son to reach F1 and remains a prominent team in Formula 4, Formula 3 and Formula 2.
According to a report in Sportmail, Mazepin part-owned Hitech through a Cypriot-based firm and those company’s shares were transferred nine days before the invasion of Ukraine to Hitech director Oliver Oakes, who now controls the company