Haas F1: Fittipaldi first option if Mazepin cannot drive

Haas Formula 1 boss Gunther Steiner says the team would call on Pietro Fittipaldi to step in for Nikita Mazepin if he cannot race amid doubts over the Russian’s future.

Haas F1: Fittipaldi first option if Mazepin cannot drive
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Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, Haas announced it would be removing the branding of title sponsor Uralkali from its car ahead of the final day of testing in Barcelona. The team’s livery typically resembled the colours of the Russian flag, but was replaced with an all-white design on Friday.

Uralkali is co-owned by Mazepin’s father, Dmitry, and has backed his racing career through to F1. The Russian company has served as Haas’s title sponsor since Mazepin joined the team in 2021.

Mazepin took part in the morning session as planned on Friday, but team boss Steiner confirmed in a press call that his future “needs to be resolved”. The team is set to review its relationship with Uralkali next week amid the ongoing crisis.

Speaking to US journalist Bob Varsha for Speed City Broadcasting, Steiner said that if Mazepin was unable to drive, the team would turn to reserve driver Fittipaldi to step in.

“If Nikita couldn’t drive for one or another reason, the first call would go to Pietro,” said Steiner.

“Obviously, he [has been] with us for a few years, and then we would see what we do next.

“But I mean Pietro is always around with us for a reason. The last years, we needed a reserve driver, having COVID around, so he is always around.

“He knows the team, he knows the car to jump in for one day to the other. There is nobody better than Pietro around at the moment.”

Nikita Mazepin, Haas VF-22

Nikita Mazepin, Haas VF-22

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Fittipaldi has made two F1 starts with Haas, both of which came at the end of the 2020 season when he deputised for Romain Grosjean in Sakhir and Abu Dhabi following the Frenchman’s fiery accident in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Brazilian driver most recently drove a Haas F1 car during the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, getting behind the wheel of its VF-21 model for a day of running at Yas Marina.

In a post to his social media accounts on Friday, Mazepin wrote that it was “a difficult time” and he was “not in control over a lot of what is being said and done”.

“I'm choosing to focus on what I CAN control by working hard and doing my best for my Haas F1 Team,” Mazepin wrote. “My deepest thanks for your understanding and support.”

Steiner noted during his press call that “not everything depends on us here” with regards to Mazepin’s future, saying there were “governments involved and I have no power over them”.

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