Nikita Mazepin has hit out at what he has branded "cancel culture" involving athletes hailing from Russia.
The 23-year-old was dropped from the Haas Formula 1 team ahead of the 2022 season, with the American-led outfit taking the decision to cut ties with him and their Russian title sponsor Uralkali in the wake of Russia beginning military action in neighbouring Ukraine.
Both Mazepin and his oligarch father Dmitry, chairman of Uralkali, have been placed on EU and UK sanction lists, with the EU statement describing Mazepin Snr. as "a member of the closest circle of Vladimir Putin".
Mazepin lashes out against "cancel culture"
Mazepin gave an interview to BBC's Hardtalk programme, in which he told host Stephen Sackur that he didn't agree with the sanctions placed upon Russian athletes.
Shortly after his dismissal from Haas, the Russian announced he and his father would establish a foundation called 'We Compete As One', which aims to help support, financially and psychologically, athletes who have been shut out of their respective fields.
"I don't agree with being in the sanctions," Mazepin said, speaking from Moscow, the Russian capital.
"I've said previously that I intend to fight it.
"Now is not the right time because, if you look at the whole situation that's happening against athletes in the general case, it's cancel culture against my country."
F1's governing body, the FIA, did not ban drivers from Russia or Belarus, allowing them to race under a neutral flag provided they signed an agreement that distanced themselves from their country and the actions of Putin.
Mazepin was one of several prominent Russian drivers who did not sign the document, although Haas' decision to drop him was made independently of that choice.
Viewed by others:
Mazepin: There's tremendous risk in speaking about this case
Asked by Sackur about his thoughts on the images of war coming from Ukraine, Mazepin said that his "feelings have changed".
"I live in the same world as you, although perhaps three [to] four hours away from each other by plane, but it is very painful to watch that, on many levels," he said.
"My feelings... they've obviously changed as a human being, and as a person that wants to live in a very peaceful world.
"But, I will be honest with you, I see tremendous risks in saying anything at all about this case, because I will never satisfy everyone and, therefore, I will keep myself publicly quiet."
F1 Podcast: Can anyone stop the Verstappen/Leclerc show?
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken,
Mike Seymour, and Thomas Maher look back over the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in Jeddah, which was won in dramatic fashion by Red Bull's Max Verstappen.