Fired Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin claims he no longer trusts his former team Haas.
The Russian driver claimed he found out about his sacking through a press release and the 23-year-old insists he has not ruled out taking legal action against the Formula One team.
Mazepin’s father, oligarch Dmitry Mazepin, is a co-owner of Haas’ former title sponsor Uralkali — a deal that was also torn up — as well as an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Uralkali released a statement Wednesday demanding the “immediate refund” of funds already transferred to Haas for the upcoming season.
Following the invasion of Ukraine, the FIA confirmed that Russian drivers would be allowed to continue driving under a neutral flag.
However, the sport’s governing body also said all drivers must agree to its principles of peace and neutrality and “recognize the FIA’s strong commitment to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine and all those suffering from the ongoing conflict”.
Mazepin said he did not consider signing the document because he was fired by Haas the following day.
“I appreciate the small number of drivers who have expressed their support for me,” said Mazepin from Moscow.
“Sergio (Perez), Valtteri (Bottas), Charles (Leclerc) and George (Russell) have all contacted me.”
He continued: “They know how important the situation is and they have shown their support after I missed an opportunity to compete.”
Mazepin also announced the creation of a foundation called “We Compete As One” to support athletes “who are banned from competing and are being penalized collectively simply for holding passports.”
Mazepin was asked three times if he thought it was realistic to continue in Formula One given his father’s ties to Putin.
He replied: “There were two phases in the decision to allow Russian drivers to continue. Firstly, an online vote held by the FIA where everyone had a say and they decided that drivers from Russia and Belarus can take part if they are neutral.
“I was willing to agree and consider myself neutral. When they added an additional letter for me to sign, I didn’t look at it because my contract was already canceled.
“It’s been four days since I was released and I can say there is nobody to protect athletes who end up in this position and I want to be the first to help.”
Mazepin was removed from Haas last Saturday, a fortnight before the opening round in Bahrain.
“I don’t want to be with a team that doesn’t want me,” he said. “Formula 1 is a dangerous sport and you have to rely on the team you work with. It’s a safety issue and it’s fair to say I don’t place that trust in them.
“It’s good to keep all (legal) options open. There was no legal reason that could allow the team to terminate my contract.
“I was very disappointed with the way it was handled. I was told that if the FIA allowed me to race under their rules and I agreed with them, there would be no action to remove me from the seat.
“I haven’t heard from the team since it happened and I found out about my dismissal when it was announced to the press. I’m a young man and I wasn’t ready for this. I have not received any notice or support or been told this is the decision we made. I studied at the same time as you.
“I lost my dream that I’ve been working toward for 18 years. I didn’t think the situation of losing my drive would happen so quickly. But I absolutely do not see Formula 1 as a closed chapter. I will remain in race condition and ready to take advantage of an opportunity if it arises.’
MORE : Nikita Mazepin, son of Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin, allowed to compete in Formula 1 this season
For more stories like this, visit our sports page.
Follow Metro Sport for the latest news
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
https://metro.co.uk/2022/03/09/sacked-f1-star-nikita-mazepin-hits-out-at-former-team-16244716/ Fired F1 star Nikita Mazepin 'doesn't trust' former Team Haas