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‘Whether you want to give up your country for sport…I won’t do it’: Axed Haas driver Nikita Mazepin insists he has NO intention of dropping the Russian flag and racing as neutral for hopes of return in F1 to enlarge
- Russian driver Nikita Mazepin was fired by Haas after the invasion of Ukraine
- Mazepin’s oligarch father Dmitry is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin
- Speaking of rivals taking neutral stances, Mazepin is unwilling to relinquish the flag he rides under in an attempt to find a way back into Formula 1
- He also said it is a ‘pity’ that the Russian Grand Prix has been removed from the calendar
Sacked Russian Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin has ruled out the possibility of racing under a neutral flag to boost hopes of a return to F1.
Haas fired Mazepin in March and also dropped sponsors of Uralkali, a Russian fertilizer company partially owned by Mazepin’s oligarch father Dmitry, 53, an associate of Vladimir Putin.
The FIA announced that Russian drivers could only enter competition if they distanced themselves from their country and race under a neutral flag.
Mazepin has seen his colleagues, such as junior Ferrari driver Robert Shwartzman and Dakar Rally driver Konstantin Zhiltsov, adopt a different flag to further their racing career, something he does not want to do.
‘People cannot be judged. We are athletes and everyone has their own choices, which must be respected,” he said rsport.ria.ru.
‘Zhiltsov is not alone, [Russian turned Israeli driver] Robert Shwartzman did the same. There is a matter of personal considerations.
“Whether you want to give up your country for sport and it’s more important to you or not – everyone chooses for themselves, but I don’t.”
Russian driver Nikita Mazepin has no plan to adopt neutral flag to boost hopes of return to F1
Mazepin (right) ‘respects’ other drivers who adopt a different flag, but he won’t follow
In April, Mazepin described “cancel culture” as the season behind his firing.
Speaking with the BBCMazepin said it is wrong to target Russian athletes with sanctions.
“I don’t agree that I’m in sanctions,” he said. “I’ve said before that I agree to fight it.
“Maybe now isn’t the right time. If you look at the whole situation against athletes in general, it’s the cancellation culture against my country.’
Mazepin was eliminated by Haas nine days after Russia invaded Ukraine and was replaced by Kevin Magnussen.
Mazepin’s father Dmitry (right) is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin (left)
The Russian Grand Prix, which will be held in Sochi, has also been removed from the race calendar due to the war against Ukraine and it is a decision that leaves Mazepin with ‘great sadness’.
“I have reacted to this with great sadness,” he added. “I remember those wonderful feelings when I was on that podium in Russia.
“This is one of the best grands prix. It’s a shame that drivers and spectators won’t be able to experience it in the near future.
“But the situation can change very quickly, both negatively and positively. I hope for the best.’
Mazepin is now working on a lawsuit against Haas over his firing, with hearings set to take place in Switzerland in the coming months.
Danish driver Kevin Magnussen replaced Mazepin and impresses for the Haas team
Haas is also battling the future of Mick Schumacher, son of legendary F1 driver Michael, after Sportsmail revealed the US team is ready to fire the German.
Sports post understands that Hass boss Gunther Steiner has already decided that Schumacher, the 23-year-old son of legendary seven-time world champion Michael, is redundant.
The German’s contract expires in December and talks about an extension have come to nothing.