Haas team boss Guenther Steiner says no rules were circumvented with the creation of its VF-21 livery and stressed that Nikita Mazepin must deliver “like any other driver.”
Haas presented a striking new white, blue and red scheme on Thursday morning, drawing parallels with the colours used on the Russian flag.
The rebrand coincides with the appointment of Russia-based potash fertiliser firm Uralkali, controlled by Dmitry Mazepin, as its new title partner.
Russia is currently serving a two-year ban from competition events after the Court of Arbitration’s ruling in December relating to the systematic doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics, following a report from the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The FIA is a signatory to WADA though the ban does not extend to the use of the Russian colours.
“We didn’t circumvent anything,” said Steiner. “We came up with this livery already last year, before the ruling from WADA about the Russian flag.
“Obviously, we cannot display the Russian flag as the Russian flag but you can use the colors on the car. In the end, it’s the athlete which cannot display the Russian flag, not the team. The team is an American team.”
On the Mazepin family’s enhanced involvement with Haas, Steiner clarified: “Nikita is the driver and Uralkali is the title [partner] of the team, it is called the Uralkali Haas F1 Team and therefore with that comes some benefits but it is the company which sponsors us.
“That is the role they [Uralkali] play at the moment; Mr. Mazepin as you know owns the company or is the biggest/only shareholder of the company and his son drives for us.
“But in the end it is Uralkali which sponsors us and Nikita needs to deliver like any other driver.”
Russian sportsmen, such as Mazepin, are still able to compete in events but must do so without bearing the flag, or any other national symbol, with many entering as neutral athletes.
Mazepin explained that he is still evaluating the situation.
“My plan [has been] to compete in F1 for the whole of my life, well ever since I knew F1 existed,” he said.
“It’s very unfortunate that the year that I have achieved my goal that this has happened. It’s not for me to judge or decide in any way. “Currently, I am still in a discussion on how I will be classified. There’s no decision yet.”