Kevin Magnussen. Who would have thought that the Danish driver would be back in F1 after he was dropped last season? However, Formula One Team Haas recently confirmed that Magnussen has taken Nikita Mazepin’s seat ahead of the new 2022 season.
Russian driver Nikita Mazepin was dismissed as a driver for US-owned F1 team Haas, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine; Mazepin and his father have both also been sanctioned by the EU following the invasion. It was revealed that the former F1 driver’s father had met with President Vladmir Putin’s one day after his invasion, emphaising how integrated the Mazepin’s are in the Putin’s government.
As a result, the Russian driver was fired from Haas and the F1 Team also removed its sponsor, Uralkali from their car on the second day of pre-season testing ahead of the 2022 Championship. Uralkali is a Russian potash fertilizer producer and exporter and had sponsored the team for the past year. The Russian firm has since demanded a full reimbursement from Haas after they were dropped at the team’s sponsor.
Uralkali released a statement indicating that Haas has “failed to perform its obligations to Uralkali for this year’s season”, so they “request the immediate reimbursement of the amounts received by Haas.” The refund from Haas and the remaining part of Uralkali’s sponsor financing for 2022 would be used to establish the We Compete as One athlete support foundation, an initiative set up by Nikita Mazepin to support athletes who have been “punished just for the passports they hold.”
Motor racing’s governing body, the FIA, has not banned Russian or Belarussian drivers from competing, unlike in some other professional sports, but instead, it was the decision of Haas to fire Mazepin and to cut ties with Uralkali. Undoubtedly there was significant pressure on the team to show solidarity with Ukraine by acting and distancing themselves from their Russian sponsor and driver.
Nikita Mazepin, 23, joined Hass F1 Team for the 2021 season on a multi-year deal alongside 22-year-old German driver Mick Schumacher. Nikita was contracted to compete in this season’s F1 World Championship; however, his contract was terminated on 5 March.
With Mazepin out of a seat, there was much speculation as to who would take the last spot on the grid.
Kevin Magnussen, 29, was announced on Wednesday evening, making a shock return to F1 after he was dropped in 2020 in favour of the young Schumacher and Mazepin duo. F1 fans thought they had seen the end of Magnussen’s F1 career, however, on the eve of the second preseason testing he signed a multi-year deal which surprised many fans.
Magnussen will be joining Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher on the grid. It was difficult to measure the success of Schumacher’s rookie season in F1 and the arrival of Magnussen will mean that he will be racing alongside an experienced driver, giving the F1 world a better indication of his performance level.
With the 2022 F1 World Championship season starting on 20 March, the first race in Bahrain is fast approaching. Haas finished last in the 2021 Championship and there was a clear focus on developing their car for this year’s major rule changes.
It will be very exciting to see how the two Haas drivers perform, especially considering the new addition of Magnussen and how this will impact their team.