Haas confirm Kevin Magnussen will replace Mazepin for 2022 season

(Motorsport) Formula 1 team Haas have confirmed that Kevin Magnussen will replace Nikita Mazepin for the 2022 season. The US owned team dismissed Mazepin after being subjected to intense pressure following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Magnussen, who previously raced for Haas for four seasons until 2020 has signed a multi-year contract agreement and will race alongside German driver Mick Schumacher at the season opening race in Bahrain on March 20th.

Meanwhile, the Haas car will be tested by Brazilian reserve Pietro Fittipaldi on Thursday in Mazepin’s absence. Fittipaldi was thought of as the most likely candidate for the vacant F1 seat; he raced instead of Romain Grosjean at the 2020 Sakhir and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The manufacturer will look to improve on their disappointing 2021 campaign in which they finished last and were the only team not to score a single point throughout the season. In their defence, Haas’ focus was on the development of the 2022 car and expectations are high with regards to how they will improve in the upcoming season.

Magnussen told Haas' website: "I was obviously very surprised but equally very excited to receive the call from Haas F1 Team. I was looking in a different direction regarding my commitments for 2022 but the opportunity to return to compete in Formula 1, and with a team I know extremely well, was simply too appealing.

“I really have to say thank you to both Peugeot and Chip Ganassi Racing for releasing me promptly – both are great organisations. Naturally, I also want to thank Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner for the chance to resume my Formula 1 career – I know just how competitive they both are and how keen they are to return to competing week in and week out.

"We've enjoyed a solid relationship and our positive association remained even when I left at the end of 2020. I've been briefed as much as possible on the development of the VF-22 and the potential in the package. There's work to do but I'm excited to be a part of it. I can't wait to get back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car in Bahrain."

Meanwhile, Nikita Mazepin spoke out on the same day Haas announced that Kevin Magnussen will be replacing the Russian in Formula 1. Mazepin said “I was ready to agree with this and consider myself neutral. When they added an additional letter which I had to sign, I did not look at it because my contract had already been terminated. I do not want to be at a team that doesn't want me. Formula One is a dangerous sport and you have to rely on the team you are working with. It is a question of safety, and it is fair to say I don't have that trust in them. 

"It is good to keep all (legal) options open. There was no legal reason that could enable the team to terminate my contract. I was very disappointed with the way it was handled. I was told if the FIA allowed me to compete on their rules, and I agreed to them, there would be no actions to remove me from the seat. I have not heard from the team since it happened and I learnt about the firing of me the same time it was released to the press. 

"I am a young man and I was not ready for it. I did not receive any hint, or any support, or be told that this is the decision we have taken. I learned at the same time as you did. I lost my dream which I have been working towards for 18 years. I didn't imagine the situation of losing my drive would happen so soon. But I absolutely do not see Formula One as a closed chapter. I am going to stay in race condition and I will be ready to take on an opportunity if it comes."

Meanwhile, Mazepin’s father Dmitry Mazepin, who is the part owner of Haas' former title sponsor, Uralkali has demanded that the Formula 1 team reimburse the sponsorship payment after terminating the contract between the two parties. A statement published by Uralkali said “Uralkali has been for many years contributing considerably towards global food security and providing significant assistance to a whole range of sports associations, organisations and events both in Russia and abroad. The company views the team's decision as unreasonable and believes that sports should always be free of politics and pressure from external factors.

"Given the above, Uralkali intends to protect its interests in line with applicable legal procedures and reserves its rights to initiate judicial proceedings, claim damages and seek repayment of the significant amounts Uralkali had paid for the 2022 Formula One season. 

"As most of the sponsorship funding for the 2022 season has already been transferred to Haas and given that the team terminated the sponsorship agreement before the first race of the 2022 season, Haas has thus failed to perform its obligations to Uralkali for this season.

"Uralkali shall 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 will be used to establish the We Compete As One athlete support foundation."

Also read: Formula 1 team Haas terminate Nikita Mazepin’s contract


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