Haas have reportedly opened up their search for a Nikita Mazepin replacement and reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi, Alpine reserve and reigning Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri and Red Bull-backed F2 driver, Jehan Daruvala, are all said to be under consideration.
A report from the BBC’s Andrew Benson claims the three are on team principal Guenther Steiner’s shortlist to partner Mick Schumacher this season, after the announcement on Saturday that Mazepin’s contract with Haas had been terminated, alongside their title sponsorship with Uralkali.
Since Mazepin’s future was thought to be under threat, as part of wider sport’s move to support sanctions against Russia by banning Russian and Belarusian athletes, a raft of driver names have been bandied about for the seat.
Mazepin himself was furious that his contract was cancelled however, as Russian drivers are not banned from competing in Formula 1, if they agree to emergency measures from the FIA which include agreeing to its condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as racing under a neutral flag.
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Mazepin said he agreed to continue under these terms, but claimed Haas “completely ignored” him and chose to go down another path.
Another driver thought to be in the frame for a swift return to Formula 1 is Antonio Giovinazzi, with the former Alfa Romeo man holding the same links to Ferrari that Schumacher has in the other seat – coupled with several years’ experience as an F1 driver.
One sticking point for Steiner, however, is that he has already said publicly that team reserve driver Fittipaldi, who raced twice for the team after Romain Grosjean’s career ended prematurely with his horror crash in Bahrain, has “first call” over whether or not the seat is his.
“Obviously, [Fittipaldi has been] with us for a few years, and then we would see what we do next,” Steiner explained to Speed City Broadcasting.
“But I mean Pietro is always around with us for a reason. The last years, we needed a reserve driver, having COVID around, so he is always around.
“He knows the team, he knows the car to jump in for one day to the other. There is nobody better than Pietro around at the moment.”
Naturally though, other drivers will have thrown their hats into the ring to get themselves on the grid, but Haas are likely to announce Mazepin’s replacement in time for official pre-season testing in Bahrain later in the week.
Giovinazzi joins Fittipaldi on Haas short list
Could Antonio Giovinazzi or Pietro Fittipaldi replace Nikita Mazepin at Haas?