The Haas F1 team replaced its Russian driver Nikita Mazepin with Kevin Magnusson, who hasn’t competed at the highest levels of Formula 1 since 2020.
Also, on Wednesday, the EU placed Mazepin on a blacklist because of his father’s ties to Russia president Vladimir Putin. Haas already terminated Mazepin’s contract. But after being placed on the blacklist, there was no way he could race this season because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The EU determined that the elder Mazepin belonged to Putin’s “closest circle.” His father funded the Russian’s driver’s racing career. And his company also was Haas’ title sponsor in 2021.
What to Know: Russian Driver Nikita Mazepin
- Mazepin’s father sponsored Haas Formula One team until Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- EU placed younger Mazepin on blacklist because of ties to Vladimir Putin
- Haas hired Kevin Magnusson after terminating Mazepin’s contract.
Earlier this month, Haas parted ways with sponsor Uralkali, the company owned by Mazepin’s Russian oligarch father. Plus, the team removed a Russian flag emblem that had been featured on the car’s exterior. Mazepin’s father, who was born in Belarus, is a billionaire who made his money in chemicals. Uralkali is a Russian fertilizer company.
“I’m delighted to welcome Kevin Magnussen back to Haas F1 Team,” Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner said in a statement to the media.
Russian Driver Enjoyed His Best F1 Season in 2018
Mazepin, the 29-year-old Russian driver, drove for Haas F1 from 2017 to 2020. His best placement was in 2018, when he was ninth in the driver standings. He’d signed a multi-contract before it was terminated.
In Magnusson, Haas signed an F1 veteran.
“When looking for a driver who could bring value to the team, not to mention a wealth of Formula 1 experience, Kevin was a straightforward decision for us,” Steiner said. “Kevin’s immediate availability means we can tap into him as a resource for pre-season testing alongside both Mick Schumacher and Pietro Fittipaldi.”
Magnussen competed last year for Chip Ganassi Racing’s IMSA team. He’s on site for testing at the Bahrain International Circuit. That’s the site of the first Formula Race of the season, March 20.
Schumacher is the son of Germany’s Michael Schumacher, who is considered one of the greatest drivers in F1 history. Fittipaldi also is from F1 royalty. His grandfather is Emerson Fittipaldi, who won two F1 world championships.
Meanwhile, Mazepin, the Russian driver, told reporters he is forming the “We Compete as One” foundation. It’s for athletes who are prevented from competing because of politics. He said the money Uralkali would have used to sponsor Haas would go to this new group.
The Russian driver said he has heard from several drivers. “They know how important the sport is to them, to their lives,” Mazepin said. “They supported me in feeling for me for losing that opportunity to compete. Nothing political. Just personal, keep your head up. It was just what I believe a good human being should do.”
Formula One also canceled the Russian Grand Prix.