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Nikita Mazepin

Mazepin reveals how he learned Haas had dropped him

Nikita Mazepin has claimed that he found out Haas would be parting ways with him at the same time as fans and journalists.

Nikita Mazpein
Article
To news overview © Haas F1

Nikita Mazepin says he learned that Haas were dropping him at the same time as the media, explaining that he "didn't receive any hint or any support" from the team.

Haas announced last week that they had parted ways with Russian driver Mazepin and Russian sponsor Uralkali, following the country's major military attack on Ukraine.

Speaking to media, including RacingNews365.com, for the first time since the team's announcement, Mazepin gave his version of events.

"I have not heard any information from the team ever since this happened," he said via video call on Wednesday.

"I learned about the firing of me at the same time as it had been released to the press. I'd like to think I'm a young man at 23, and I was not ready for it. I didn't receive any hint or any support to say, 'This is the decision we've taken, it's going to go live in 15 minutes, just be ready for it'.

"I obviously had a lot of messages from people and I just learned at the same time as you guys [the media] did."

Mazepin was worried ever since leaving Barcelona

Mazepin admitted that he started to "worry" about his seat following the opening pre-season test in Barcelona, despite claiming to have received assurances from Haas that he could continue if the FIA allowed him to compete.

F1's governing body recently opted against a complete ban on Russian and Belarusian drivers in motorsport, permitting them to race as neutrals instead.

"I was very disappointed with the way it was handled," Mazepin remarked.

"I had been told that if the FIA allows me to compete on their rules, and I agree to them, there will be no actions to remove me from the seat, because there is no legal obligation or reason to do so."

Mazepin added that up to this point, his relationship with team boss Guenther Steiner had been "a very good one" and "I respected him as a man, very much so".

He said: "I have been used to believing 101 per cent in his words; he's the Team Principal and if he says something it normally happens, or it always happens."

Mazepin frustrated after "great" start to pre-season

Despite his concerns, Mazepin says he never thought he would end up losing his seat with Haas and had been feeling encouraged after the first week of pre-season testing.

"I think the job of a racing driver is a very unique one, because you're definitely in a very big public space, and there's a lot of spotlight," he commented.

"But I didn't even imagine that my situation of losing my drive could happen so soon this year. On Friday [in Barcelona], when I came back to the track, I was looking forward to getting out on track and getting ready for the season.

"I believe that we were developing the car and the car felt great on the first two days. We had some technical issues and I was hoping to do some laps, which would help me compete at a high level in Bahrain, but it didn't happen."

Earlier on Wednesday, Uralkali - the Russian potash fertiliser company that also back Mazepin - demanded an "immediate reimbursement" of the money they claim to have already paid to sponsor Haas for 2022.

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