Ex-Haas driver Nikita Mazepin is plotting a hopeful return to Formula 1 in 2024 by taking a case with Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister to court to remove the sanctions placed against him.
Mazepin was about to embark on his sophomore campaign in F1 last year when he was suddenly dropped by Haas as a consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The FIA subsequently enforced that any Russian or Belarusian driver wanting to compete in an FIA-accredited Championship must do so under a neutral flag and be prepared to condemn the actions of the ongoing war.
With his father, Dmitry, possessing close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, Mazepin said he was unwilling to abandon the Russian flag to secure an F1 return and has since asserted the “cancel culture” restrictions have ruined his racing career.
Having claimed an attempt to overturn the sanctions previously had been ignored, Mazepin’s latest court application again highlights his desire to mark an F1 return as early as next year.
The sanctions imposed rule Mazepin out from competing in any motorsport event held in Canada, meaning he believes his inability to contest the annual F1 round in Montreal would “categorially reduce” the likelihood of a team wanting to sign him.
According to CTV News, his appeal reads: “[Mazepin is a] young sportsman and professional motorsport driver who is in no way involved in the aggression suffered by Ukraine.
“It will be extremely difficult — if not impossible — for him to be recruited again as an F1 driver or as a driver in other motorsport championships.”
Mazepin was handed his F1 debut in 2021 alongside fellow Formula 2 graduate Mick Schumacher as part of an all-rookie driver line-up at Haas.
Despite being equipped with a hugely underdeveloped car that was consistently the slowest in the field, Mazepin was regularly outpaced by his team-mate in his sole F1 season.
Crashing only three corners into his debut race was a sign of things to come as the Russian racer continued to illustrate he was out of his depth in the top tier of single-seater racing.
While Mazepin would turn the wheel of a much-improved VF-22 package in Barcelona ahead of the season, he would not be handed the opportunity to race Haas’ new generation car as his place was taken by Kevin Magnussen, returning to F1 and Haas having only departed at the end of 2020.
The Dane immediately shone on his comeback appearance, crossing the line fifth in Bahrain as Haas surged out of the blocks at the beginning of the sport’s newest technical era.
Magnussen would score the lump sum of Haas’ points early in 2022 and also achieved the surprising feat of landing the American outfit’s first-ever F1 pole position during a dry-to-wet final qualifying session on Friday night at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil.
Schumacher, however, struggled for consistency in his second year and was responsible for three costly crashes, leading to him being dropped in favour of German compatriot Nico Hulkenberg.
Despite making four deputy appearances for the Silverstone side in its various guises, Hulkenberg has finally returned to F1 full-time after a three-year hiatus since his Renault exit in 2019.
The 35-year-old has immediately been on the pace, out-qualifying Magnussen in all three rounds so far and racing to his first points as a Haas driver with an impressive seventh place in Australia.
Along with axing Mazepin, Haas also severed ties with Uralkali, the Russian fertilizer company that title-sponsored the American team throughout 2021, with MoneyGram since taking its place and providing the team with the budget to operate at the cost cap for the first time since its introduction.
Mazepin, meanwhile, has made his first foray into racing action since his F1 axe in the Asian Le Mans Series this year, where he has currently scored two pole positions and two podiums in four starts.