Dropped Haas F1 driver Nikita Mazepin has set out plans to launch a foundation, backed by former Haas title sponsor Uralkali, that aims to offer support to athletes "forbidden" from competing in sport.
It comes after a number of sports governing bodies took to decision to ban Russian and Belarusian teams, and, in some cases, athletes, from competing in their events following Russia's military invasion of nearby Ukraine.
Russian and Belarusian drivers are still free to compete in international motorsport, the FIA have made clear, but must race under the neutral flag of the organisation and agree to sign a 'driver commitment' form, stating amongst other clauses that they will not sport the national symbols, colours or flags of their homeland publicly.
But despite this arrangement, Haas took the decision to terminate their sponsorship agreement with Uralkali, the Mazepin-owned company funding Nikita's racing career, and remove him as their driver.
Urakali have since demanded a refund of the sponsorship money they claim to have already paid and say they will instead use the cash to fund Mazepin's new foundation that he plans to call: 'We Compete as One'.
Mazepin: We will help excluded athletes cope
"Today, I'm announcing the creation of a foundation that will be devoted to helping athletes who, for political reasons out of their control, lost their ability to compete at the highest level," said Mazepin, speaking to select member of the media that included RacingNews365.com.
"It will be funded by Uralkali, using the money that had been intended for Formula 1 sponsorship this season.
"The foundation will allocate resources, both financial and non-financial, to those athletes who have spent their lives preparing for Olympics, or Paralympics, or other top events, only to find that they were forbidden from competing and collectively punished just because of the passports they held.
"We will work to find jobs to provide worthy incomes, as many of these athletes have been counting on sponsorships following their championship performances, which did not happen. We will also provide legal aid in cases where athletes wish to argue their status in sport.
"We will help them psychologically to cope with the sense of loss and emptiness that comes with being excluded from the sport that they love."
Viewed by others:
Mazepin says Russian ban is "devastating"
He continued: "We all know that the career of an athlete is short-term and that it requires years of intense sacrifice to perform at the highest level. When that final reward is taken away, it is devastating and no one is thinking what happens next to these athletes. I will be addressing this.
"Athletes who have been unable to train due to upheaval will also be included in the work of the foundation. This would include athletes from all conflict zones, and our door is open to everybody.
"We will begin with the Paralympic team from Russia, which was banned from the Games in Beijing, having first been told that they could travel to realise that life's dream."
Mazepin foundation adopt recognisable name
The name of Mazepin's new foundation is similar to the title of Formula 1's equality initiative, which was launched in June 2020.
The '#WeRaceAsOne' initiative looks to tackle "the biggest issues facing the sport and global communities", say F1.
Speaking ahead of its launch at the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, F1's Chairman and CEO Chase Carey said: "We will show our full support in fighting inequality throughout the weekend and accelerate our own efforts to make Formula 1 more diverse and inclusive.
"As a global sport, we must represent the diversity and social concerns of our fans, but we also need to listen more and understand what needs to be done and get on with delivering."
F1 Podcast: All you need to know after the first pre-season test
At the end of the first pre-season test of 2022 in Barcelona, Dieter Rencken and Thomas Maher discuss the on- and off-track developments so far.