As Uralkali and Nikita Mazepin get the chop, Kevin Magnussen is offered empty Haas seat
Haas replaces Russian driver Nikita Mazepin with Kevin Magnussen. and his father’s company Uralkali is dropped.
Haas, an American Formula One team, has recently cut ties with Nikita Mazepin and Russian company Uralkali. Uralkali had signed a deal with Haas in 2021 to become a title sponsor for the team. Many speculate that the head of the company, Dmitry Mazepin, signed the deal to secure a seat for his son Nikita Mazepin. Hass is following suit with various organizations in cutting ties with Russia.
According to ESPN sports, Uralkali has demanded full reimbursement of their sponsorship from Haas after being dropped as the team's title sponsor ahead of the coming Formula One season. It is well known that Dmitry Mazepin is a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and met with him after he began his attack on Ukraine. Although the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile released a statement claiming that Russian and Belarusian drivers can compete under a neutral flag, the Haas team still decided to drop its Russian driver.
A statement released by Uralkali claimed that “the Company views the Team's decision as unreasonable and believes that sports should always be free of politics and pressure from external factors." The company continues by saying that "the refund from Haas and the remaining part of Uralkali's sponsor financing for 2022 will be used to establish the 'We Compete As One' athlete support foundation.”
The 'We Compete As One' athlete support foundation is the new creation of Nikita Mazepin to fight the political “injustice” forced upon Russian athletes in this time of war. According to him, it is unfair to persecute athletes because of the passport they carry. Haas continues looking for a replacement.
On March 9, 2022, the Haas team picked Kevin Magnussen to fill the vacant seat. The Danish driver is not a foreigner to the Haas team, having previously competed on the team during the 2017 to 2020 Formula One seasons. The 29-year-old left Formula One to spend the 2021 season in sportscar racing and made an IndyCar cameo. Magnussen was originally replaced by Mazepin because the team was desperate for funding, but now he gets to reap the benefits of the money provided by Uralkali. The irony has not been lost on the Formula One fandom, and the memes have been electric.
According to the Formula One website, Magnussen had said, “I mean, the fact that we’ve got this new car that is totally different, everyone starting from a blank sheet of paper, was also very crucial for my decision to come back, and I think it’s exciting – it had an element of the unknown, that [there] could be surprises, and I want to be there in case we can do something fun!” He had expressed his excitement multiple times and claimed he did not realize how much he would miss Formula One. Now, Magnussen will take his place along Mick Schumacher to race for the Haas team for the upcoming 2022 season.