“I’m always sorry when you have to do something like that”: Haas F1 boss Guenther Steiner apologizes to Nikita Mazepin following the latter’s axing

Somin Bhattacharjee
|Published 15/03/2022

Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner admits that making the decision to remove Nikita Mazepin from the team wasn’t easy.

The 2022 season got off to a tricky start for Haas, even before the racing action began. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Haas joined the rest of the F1 and sports community in imposing sanctions on and speaking out against this offensive.

This included terminating Uralkali and Nikita Mazepin’s contract. The former is a Russian fertilizer company owned by Mazepin’s father Dimitri, who has close ties to Vladimir Putin. With Mazepin’s money stopped, the American outfit saw no reason to keep the 23-year old in the team.

Owner Gene Haas and Steiner both admitted that the steps had to be taken for the good of the team. There was a lot of pressure from their sponsors regarding doing business with the Russians during this time.

Mazepin didn’t hide his disappointment or anger after being axed. The young Russian felt that the team didn’t even make an effort in keeping him, and that no one including Steiner contacted him personally before the decision was made public.

The Moscow born driver does not want to give up on his F1 dreams. He remains adamant that he will return to sport in the near future but rules out a return to Haas, citing it as a ‘team that does not want him’.

Also read: Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo react to Netflix’s Drive to Survive Season 4

External circumstances surrounding Nikita Mazepin can’t be changed, says Steiner

Haas have announced Kevin Magnussen as Mazepin’s replacement for the season. The Dane was a part of the Kannapolis based team from 2017-2020, before leaving F1 in 2021.

Magnussen previously stated that he would only return to F1 if it was with a winning team. While Haas aren’t expected to be at the front, the 29-year old found the offer of returning to Haas ‘too tempting’.

Steiner admitted that making this decision wasn’t easy. They took Mazepin in last year alongside fellow rookie, Mick Schumacher. With the team expected to make some strides this year, Mazepin’s F1 credibility would have been at check.

“Of course I’m always sorry when you have to do something like that,” he said. “The external circumstances that neither I nor he can change are just the way they are. You have to live with that and keep going.”

Steiner then admitted that he did not speak to Mazepin personally, something which the latter sees as disrespectful.

“I did it in writing,” the 56-year old said. “I haven’t spoken to him. It’s a very complex subject, even for legal experts.”

“We will lose money for sure but the team is financially stable. You don’t have to worry about the team. That’s the most important thing for me.”

Also read: George Russell does not think that Red Bull and Ferrari have an exceptional pace

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About the author
Somin Bhattacharjee

Somin Bhattacharjee

Somin Bhattacharjee is an F1 writer at The SportsRush. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and aims to work in the sports industry for the rest of his life. Somin has been a fan of Scuderia Ferrari since 2010 and his favorite driver is none another than the great Fernando Alonso. Other than longing for a Ferrari Championship win once again, Somin spends his free time playing football and basketball.

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