Haas F1 Team denies sponsorship refund claim for Russian company linked to Vladimir Putin

Both Uralkali and Russian driver Nikita Mazepin were dropped by Haas ahead of the start of the 2022 Formula One season. (Photo by Hasan Bratic/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Formula 1 team Haas has rejected a refund claim from former sponsor Uralkali after abruptly terminating its contract with the Russian company ahead of the start of the 2022 season.

The state-owned fertilizer company became title sponsor of the American racing team at the start of the 2021 season, with a sizeable cash injection from billionaire oligarch Dmitry Mazepin meaning son Nikita was also given a racing seat on the team alongside Mick Schumacher.

The team ran a Russian flag livery and was ready to repeat this campaign up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine turned the tide. When President Vladimir Putin bombed a number of Ukrainian cities in a sweeping attack by land, air and sea, various organizations acted to turn Russia into a sporting and cultural outcast.

On the day the invasion began, Dmitry Mazepin was among a small group of oligarchs invited for a one-on-one meeting with Putin himself. During pre-season testing in Barcelona, ​​Haas made the decision to remove all Uralkali branding from its car and team apparel, eventually unilaterally terminating its sponsorship deal with the company.

The following week, the team fired the younger Mazepin from his racing seat and replaced him with the returning Kevin Magnussen. Both Mazepins have since been added to the European Union’s list of sanctioned Russians and up to £88million worth of property was seized by the Italian government last week.

Uralkali has filed a legal suit to recover money it lost after the partnership dissolved, but Haas insists the claim is unfounded.

“According to consistent case law and jurisprudence, the party who terminates the contract for breach of the other party is not obliged to return to that party what it has already received under the contract,” says a letter from the Motorsport team . com reads.

‘Uralkali’s claim for repayment of the down payment of 12,000,000 euros is therefore unfounded and will be rejected.’

The younger Mazepin endured an awkward rookie season in F1 in 2021, spending most of the season well off the pace of the rest of the field, spinning frequently and causing dangerous situations for rivals by failing to get out of the way quickly go enough under blue flags.

Mazepin was only promoted to F1 because of the money his father’s company was bringing into the Haas team, and team boss Gunther Steiner acted quickly to remove him from the seat when that money stopped flowing.

The fourth round of the 2022 F1 season takes place at the Imola circuit in Italy over the weekend of April 22-24.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/04/15/haas-f1-team-rejects-sponsorship-refund-claim-for-vladimir-putin-linked-russian-firm-16473276/ Haas F1 Team denies sponsorship refund claim for Russian company linked to Vladimir Putin

Nate Jones

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