Nikita Mazepin’s time in Formula 1 is over – for now – after the Haas F1 Team terminated his contract ahead of the second pre-season test as a response to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.
The FIA had already applied sanctions to Russian drivers and teams in recent days, and a lot of pressure was being applied to Haas as they decided on whether or not they would keep Mazepin and title sponsors Uralkali.
After a few days of deliberation, the team opted to sever ties with both, leaving a vacancy on the grid ahead of the start of the season, which is less than two weeks away in Bahrain.
In a statement on Saturday morning, Haas said they had opted to terminate the contract with both Mazepin and Uralkali as they were saddened and shocked by the events taking place between Russia and Ukraine.
“Haas F1 Team has elected to terminate, with immediate effect, the title partnership of Uralkali, and the driver contract of Nikita Mazepin,” read the statement.
“As with the rest of the Formula 1 community, the team is shocked and saddened by the invasion of Ukraine and wishes for a swift and peaceful end to the conflict.”
Pietro Fittipaldi is favourite to replace Mazepin in the team for the 2022 season, although the likes of Antonio Giovinazzi, Nico Hülkenberg and Oscar Piastri have all been linked with the seat.
With only three days of testing to go in Bahrain next week, Haas will need to act fast if they want to give their new driver the chance to test the VF-22 ahead of the opening race of the season.