Although Toto Wolff is sympathetic with Nikita Mazepin’s plight, he understands why Haas made the call to drop the driver.
After a week of speculation, Haas announced on Saturday that it had cut ties with Mazepin and his sponsor Uralkali, both Russian.
Although the FIA announced last week that it would allow Russian drivers to continue in international racing series, they would have to compete under the FIA flag.
Mazepin has made it clear that he was okay with that, and any other conditions coming from the FIA for Russian and Belarussia athletes, but Haas still dropped him.
They also ended their sponsorship agreement with his father Dmitry’s Uralkali company.
While Wolff feels for the driver, he understands the hard line that Haas have taken.
“I’m in two minds because for Nikita himself he is a guy that merits to be in Formula 1, he can drive,” the Mercedes motorsport boss said in an interview BloombergTV.
“You can see that some of the sports’ leagues have decided to allow Russian athletes to compete and others have been stronger in denying them access.
“I think as an athlete it is a difficult but to support the robust sanctions you can understand why.”
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) March 5, 2022
Formula 1 has also cancelled its contract with the promoters of the Russian Grand Prix in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While the sport was quick to drop this year’s grand prix, F1 bosses later announced that they had “terminate” the contract “meaning Russia will not have a race in the future”.
Wolff supports that decision.
“I am Austrian, and Austria Vienna is only 400 km from Ukraine, and who would have thought that we would see another war in Europe?” he said.
“Formula 1 and the sport seem so miniscule in that context, so we decided not to race in Sochi and I think that Formula 1 has given a robust statement like many other industries in the world.”
He added: “I think this is the overwhelming topic today and it allows us to reflect on all the little annoyances we have in the sport that there is so much more important than this.”
“We have Ukrainians and Russians on the team, it is certainly not easy for all the individuals who have families there.
“It is tough times and, from a personal perspective, having grown up in Vienna with parents of Slavic background, I feel what is happening even closer to my heart.”
Wolff conflicted about Mazepin situation
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff finds himself 'in two minds' about Nikita Mazepin's unfortunate situation.