Nikita Mazepin’s F1 future is in doubt as his Haas team considers its options after dropping its title sponsor for testing, but what link does his dad have to Russian president Vladimir Putin?
Through no fault of his own, Nikita Mazepin’s Formula 1 career is in doubt.
The Russian racer made his F1 debut in 2021 after two years in the feeder F2 series and took a best finish of 14th in an uncompetitive car.
Mazepin has been in Barcelona this week for the first F1 pre-season test of 2022, but his long-term future at Haas is uncertain.
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Nikita Mazepin Putin links explained
On Thursday, President Putin launched an invasion on neighbouring Ukraine – hours before hosting a meeting of various oligarchs at the Kremlin in Moscow.
One such oligarch at the meeting called by Putin was Dmitry Mazepin – the father of Nikita Mazepin.
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Dmitry can be seen at the meeting on the right of the image wearing a maroon tie, with his arms in his lap and in front of the cameraman in a grey blazer while there is a confirmed list of attendees here.
The two have also held one-on-one meetings in the past month. In the past, Dmitry has been awarded medals by the Russian government.
Mazepin Sr (below, second left with Nikita, left and Putin, right) is the owner of Uralchem, a company that specialises in fertiliser in Russia.
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One of the brands under the Uralchem umbrella is Uralkali – the title sponsor of the Haas team.
And, it was this sponsorship arrangement that was reportedly a driving force behind why Nikita Mazepin was able to secure his seat in F1.
However, on Thursday evening, the Haas team released a statement saying it would drop the Uralkali colours – including the Russian flag – and run in a plain livery.
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What the team has said?
Team boss Guenther Steiner has said a decision on whether to keep the Uralkali branding on the car will be made over the next week or so.
Haas is the only F1 team with a base outside Europe – in the United States.
For his part, Mazepin has continued with his testing programme alongside teammate Mick Schumacher.
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The driver of car #9 tweeted that he is “not in control over a lot of what is being said and done,” but is “choosing to focus on what I can control by working hard.”
The second F1 pre-season test takes place in Bahrain on March 11th to 13th, ahead of the first grand prix of the new season at the same venue one week later.
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