Haas F1 to drop Uralkali branding for test finale
Written By Hugh Waring, edited by Harshi Vashee
The Haas F1 team has decided to drop its branding of main title sponsor Uralkali for the third and final day of the pre-season shakedown in Barcelona, following the announcement of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Following the announcement on Thursday, President Putin has launched a ‘military operation’ in Ukraine, which has resulted in bombings and casualties across the major cities.
Western allies and NATO partners have condemned these actions, and have responded with harsh sanctions towards Russia, as well as supporting Ukraine with arms.
Putin's actions have recently been rumoured to impact major sporting events in the upcoming months. UEFA announced on Thursday evening that the Champions League final in St Petersburg will not take place and relocated elsewhere. Arguably, the actions may also affect September's Russian Grand Prix - the final race to be held in Sochi before moving to the St Petersburg track.
The 4-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, also on Thursday, pledged to boycott the Russian Grand Prix if F1 would not cancel it. As well as the 2021 World Champion, Max Verstappen quoted that it was “not correct” to race in Russia whilst there is a war going on.
F1 CEO Stefano Domencali, has yet to commit to any actions following the events in Ukraine, but said that all teams will be meeting on Thursday evening in Barcelona. It has been rumoured as well as suggested by the F1 website that a race in Turkey will replace Russia, as tickets have been made unavailable for the event, and the Turkish GP has appeared on F1.com.
Along with these events happening in Ukraine, the Haas F1 team and its main primary title sponsor, Uralkali, is partly owned by Nikita Mazepin’s father, a Russian potash fertiliser producer and exporter. It was confirmed that 37 businessmen had been meeting Putin on Thursday in Moscow, one of which was Dmitry Mazepin.
As a result of the arising events, it was confirmed that Mazepin and Haas F1 principal Steiner were advised to cancel their press commitments.
The sole American team announced on Thursday that they would remove its title sponsored branding for the final day of the Barcelona shakedown. This branding removal is clearly in response to the military actions seen in Ukraine.
The team released a statement stating, "Haas F1 team will present its VF-22 in a plain white livery, minus Uralkali branding, for the third and final day of track running on Friday 25 February,"
"Nikita Mazepin will drive as planned in the morning session with Mick Schumacher taking over in the afternoon. No further comment will be made at this time regarding team partner agreements."
The Russian company along with being Haas F1 team's main title sponsor, for the second year, launched a red white and blue colour scheme - connoting a Russian flag.
As a result of sanctions imposed on Russia, many banks have had their assets frozen, and any payments will not be accepted between the UK and Russia. Swift payments will potentially be withdrawn as well.
This led to many speculations around the Barcelona paddock, that the sanctions would potentially affect Haas F1 receiving its funding from its title sponsor, Uralkali. This could potentially affect the team's cash flow, as well as its driver line-up. It is plausible that Mazepin’s seat may be under threat if Uralkali were to withdraw its sponsorship.
More news to follow.
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