Formula One cancels Russian Grand Prix following invasion of Ukraine
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Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has insisted that Nikita Mazepin should not be sacked by Haas on the basis of his nationality in the wake of Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine. Mazepin currently appears to be facing the possibility of losing his seat ahead of the upcoming season, which is set to get underway in Bahrain later this month.
There have been questions over the 22-year-old’s continued participation in F1 after a host of Russian athletes and teams were banned from international competition earlier this week.
FIFA announced on Sunday that Russia’s national team had been suspended from all international tournaments, meaning they will not be able to fulfil their World Cup play-off matches later this month.
Their verdict followed UEFA’s decision to withdraw Spartak Moscow from the Europa League before terminating their long-term partnership with Russian state-owned energy firm Gazprom.
It has already been confirmed by the FIA that a blanket ban on Russian drivers will not be introduced, meaning that Mazepin will not be forced out of Haas by F1’s governing body.
However, there is a chance that he could still be relieved of his duties over the coming weeks if Haas decide to end their lucrative sponsorship agreement with Russian potash firm Uralkali.
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The company is part-owned by Mazepin’s father, Dmitry, who funds his son’s F1 seat and was reportedly called into a Kremlin meeting with Vladimir Putin to discuss financial sanctions against Russia last week.
Marko has since claimed that Mazepin should be allowed to continue at Haas if he manages to find another source of financial backing to replace Uralkali before the start of the new season.
“We have to wait and see what happens in that area,” the Red Bull chief told RTL Deutschland.
“But if Mazepin can stay in the team without Uralkali’s financial support, I don’t think you should exclude him on the basis of his nationality.
“[Daniil] Medvedev is also not yet excluded from the international tennis circuit. It is primarily about financing Russia.
“Uralkali is the main sponsor, but due to all the restrictions in banking traffic, I don’t even think financing an F1 team is possible anymore. In that respect the problem solves itself.”
Marko went on to express his opposition to the conflict in Ukraine by hailing the firm response of Europe’s biggest powers and calling for an end to Russia’s violent invasion of the country.
“I thought we were already quite shaken by the corona pandemic, but now we have a war in Ukraine, a country that is only 450 kilometres from the Austrian border,” he added.
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“It is unimaginable that something like this can still happen. If you consider the brutality, see what is being fought and also hear the threats, then it is just shocking.
“The last conflict on our doorstep, which was also on the Austrian border, was the Yugoslavia war about thirty years ago. I now know that Europe is acting unitedly and showing it can’t go on like this.”
It remains to be seen whether Mazepin will eventually be dropped by Haas if the American-owned team opt to cancel their deal with Uralkali, who joined them as title sponsor at the beginning of last year.
It has already been suggested that Pietro Fittipaldi, who currently serves as Haas’ test and reserve driver, will be drafted in to replace Mazepin if the latter is shown the door ahead of this month’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
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