Mazepin claims Schumacher snub as ousted Russian driver laments 'injustice'

By Sports Desk March 09, 2022

Dumped driver Nikita Mazepin claims to have received messages of support from at least four fellow drivers, but the Russian said former Haas team-mate Mick Schumacher was not among them.

Mazepin spoke to the media on Wednesday, four days after his sacking was announced by American-owned team Haas, and he described that ousting as "an injustice".

Russia's invasion of Ukraine, rather than his results on the track, is what has cost the 23-year-old his seat for 2022.

Mazepin's father, Dmitry, has close ties to Vladimir Putin, holding face-to-face business talks with the Russian president as recently as January. Dmitry Mazepin is deputy chairman of Uralkali, the potash fertiliser producer that has been a major financial backer of Haas.

As well as ousting Mazepin, Haas cut the sponsorship link with Uralkali with immediate effect, leading to a demand on Wednesday from the Russian firm for reimbursement of funds it had invested ahead of the new season.

Mazepin is smarting over his treatment by Haas and, according to L'Equipe, he said: "I had no message from Gunther Steiner, the team boss, and nothing from Mick Schumacher either. It is in these moments that we measure what people really are.

"I have always trusted Gunther 100 per cent and, after what has just happened, understand that at 23 I was not ready to experience such a disappointment.

"I don't want to speak in front of you about Haas and the men of the team, when they are not there. I will tell them what I think directly if I have the opportunity to meet them again."

Asked who had sent him messages, Mazepin said: "Sergio Perez, Valtteri Bottas, George Russell and Charles Leclerc. I appreciated it.

"Simple messages telling me to keep my head up, that they shared my pain, because they know the sacrifices you have to make to get to F1."

On social media, Mazepin declared he would be setting up a foundation "to help athletes who have been blocked from competing for political reasons". That statement faced swift ridicule from Twitter users.

Mazepin's F1 career may be over after only one season, with no guarantee he will find another drive in future.

After governing body the FIA gave Russian drivers permission to compete under a neutral flag, Mazepin was hopeful he could be able to race in 2022, before Haas decided to cut ties.

"I will abstain from any political commentary but, personally, I see my eviction as an injustice," he said. "Especially after the FIA ​​indicated that Russian drivers could race under a neutral banner. Exactly like tennis players under the ATP umbrella."

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