July 6, 2022

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Axed F1 racer Nikita Mazepin says sanctions on Russia are ‘cancel culture’

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Russian F1 driver Nikita Mazepin, the son of oligarch Dmitry Mazepin, was axed by Haas amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Kevin Magnussen returning to the team in his place

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Mazepin hits out at Haas over contract termination

Nikita Mazepin said the sanctions imposed on Russia due to their invasion of Ukraine are part of ‘cancel culture’. The 22-year-old saw his F1 journey halted as Haas axed him before the beginning of the season, and also cut ties with Russian fertiliser company Uralkali, owned by Mazepin’s oligarch father, Dmitry.

The father-son duo were then included on a list of individuals sanctioned by the European Union due to their connection to Vladimir Putin, who ordered February’s war on Ukraine. “I don’t agree with being in the sanctions,” he told BBC. “I’ve said before I agree to fight it.

“Perhaps now is not the right time. If you look at the whole situation that is happening against athletes in the general case, it’s cancel culture against my country.” The Russian has been replaced by Kevin Magnussen at Haas, who has enjoyed an impressive start on his return to F1.

The Dane crossed the line fifth in Bahrain and finished ninth in Saudi Arabia, which is very impressive considering the team failed to register a point throughout the entire 2021 campaign. As of Wednesday, 167 children have been killed so far as result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while more than 466 have been injured.

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Of the conflict, Mazepin said: “I live in the same world as you but it’s very painful to watch that [the war] on many levels. My feelings, they obviously changed as a human being and as a person that wants to live in a peaceful world.

Former F1 star Nikita Mazepin claims the sanctions imposed on Russia are part of ‘cancel culture’
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“But I will be honest with you, I just see tremendous risks in saying anything at all about this case because I will never satisfy everyone. And therefore I will keep myself publicly quiet.” Mazepin also announced that he was launching a foundation called WeCompeteAsOne , which he says will be aimed at athletes that have “been blocked from competing for political reasons”.

Haas chief Guenther Steiner shed more light on the decision to sack driver Nikita Mazepin just two weeks before the start of the new season. As well as fan demands, team owner Gene Haas revealed that there had also been pressure from other sponsors to act following the invasion and Mazepin’s father’s ties to Putin.

“We couldn’t make any other decision when we got to it, there was no possibility to keep him driving,” he said in Bahrain. “The criticism, the sanction, altogether, it didn’t work out any more.”

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