Uralkali threatened to pull Haas sponsorship in 2021

Henry Valantine
Haas driver Nikita Mazepin with father Dmitry. Monaco May 2021.

Dmitry Mazepin threatened to remove his sponsorship of Haas in 2021, after son Nikita accused the team of giving Mick Schumacher a lighter chassis last season.

He publicly voiced complaints about his opinion that his team-mate was getting preferential treatment at Haas in the first part of the season, with the Russian having generally been the field’s backmarker in qualifying and races in a car which was comfortably slowest of the field throughout 2021.

“When you have a lot of laps, long straights and you have a very heavy car compared to the other car in our team, it’s very difficult to stay ahead,” Mazepin told reporters in Austria last year when questioned about the issue.

“I’m not happy, but I’m just waiting for a new one to have a chance because at the moment I’m just a sitting duck.”

Nikita Mazepin is interviewed. Saudi Arabia December 2021.

But in preview footage for the highly-anticipated fourth series of Drive to Survive, team principal Guenther Steiner tried to assuage the concerns of the Mazepin family about one driver getting a ‘better’ car than the other.

“It’s the same car,” Steiner said in the video, as quoted by The Mirror. “As much as you believe it’s not, it’s the same car.”

But Mazepin Senior was unconvinced, eventually issuing an ultimatum to the team that his son should be offered a new chassis, otherwise his financial backing of the team would end.

“If it doesn’t change, I will send an official letter that we stop financing and stop racing,” he told Jesper Carlsen, one of Nikita’s team members.

“It will be a huge problem with the money and they will decide what to do because we will not keep this ‘let’s do, let’s do, let’s try, let’s try.’

“We already tried [for] three races and if we remove the Uralkali, we stop racing. Switch the cars. Everybody knows that someone has an advantage.”

 

Carlsen then went to Steiner and voiced the belief that “there’s a difference between the cars”, but when speaking about the warning the title sponsor issued, the team boss responded: “I don’t want to go there on an interview.”

Mazepin was eventually given a new chassis later in the season after the summer break, but continued to be out-qualified by Schumacher and was generally beaten by his fellow rookie throughout the year.

The new series of Drive to Survive is released on Friday 11 March on Netflix, and cameras were present at the pre-season shakedown in Barcelona, all but confirming a fifth series of the hit show is now in the works to cover the 2022 campaign.

The Mazepin family’s future with Haas is in serious doubt after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with sporting organisations around the world removing Russian athletes’ presence on the international stage – although the FIA confirmed Russian and Belarusian drivers could compete under a neutral flag.

 

Haas could survive without Uralkali

Guenther Steiner believes that Haas will survive if Uralkali is removed.