Haas team boss Guenther Steiner has confirmed who will be first preference for Haas if the team need to find a stand-in driver for Nikita Mazepin in the near future.
With economic sanctions being placed on Russia in light of the country beginning military action in Ukraine, Haas have opted to pull their Uralkali branding from their cars, team trucks and social media. Uralkali are a Russian potash fertiliser company and exporter, and are the personal backers of Mazepin.
Should Haas be forced to give up their Uralkali sponsorship, or visa restrictions prevent Mazepin from entering certain countries, the team may need to find a replacement driver – whether temporary or permanent.
Fittipaldi would get the call up for Haas
With Haas having an official reserve driver on their books, Steiner explained that it would be Pietro Fittipaldi who gets the call if required.
"If Nikita couldn't drive for whatever reason, the first call would go to Pietro," Steiner confirmed during a broadcast with Speed City's Bob Varsha.
"He's [been] with us for a few years and then we would see what to do next."
Fittipaldi has been a long-term reserve for Haas and drove for the team in the final two races of the 2020 season as a replacement for the injured Romain Grosjean.
"Pietro's always around with us for that reason," Steiner added.
"In the last two years, with COVID around, we needed a reserve driver. So he's always around – he knows the team, he knows the car. To jump in from one day to the other, there is nobody better than Pietro around at the moment."
Steiner: Everybody supports our decisions
With Haas running a plain white livery for Friday's running in Barcelona, having elected to pull their Uralkali branding, Steiner explained how he and team owner Gene Haas had come to the decision to change their livery.
"Yesterday morning, Gene and I were at breakfast and we discussed the situation, what happened during the night," he said.
"We just discussed it and talked it through and then you digest it. Then, when we got into the track, some of the partners told us they were unhappy with the situation, but they were behind us.
"We sat down with Gene and we just decided to take it off. It was very, very simple, because I think that is what we should have done and have done."
As for what the reaction in the paddock has been to Haas having to take such drastic action, Steiner said the other teams are very supportive.
He added: "I think everybody supports us. Everybody supports the action – we didn't have any negatives from it."
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