Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Russia’s Mazepin and father sanctioned – BBC Sport

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  • By Andrew Benson
  • Chief F1 writer

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Mazepin and team-mate Mick Schumacher failed to register a point in the entire 2021 season

Ex-Haas driver Nikita Mazepin and his father Dmitry have been added to a list of Russians sanctioned over the invasion of Ukraine.

On Wednesday the European Union declared chemicals billionaire Dmitry Mazepin “a member of the closest circle of [President] Vladimir Putin”.

An EU document accused Mazepin Sr of “supporting or implementing actions which undermine or threaten” Ukraine.

His business was providing “substantial revenue” to the Russian government.

But the EU said he was “a natural person associated with a leading businessperson [his father] involved in economic sectors providing a substantial source of revenue to the government of the Russian Federation, which is responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilisation of Ukraine”.

Mazepin owed his seat to sponsorship funding from the Russian chemicals business Uralkali, which is part-owned by his father through his company Uralchem.

The EU is attempting to close loopholes in its sanctions against allies of Putin.

Those named on the list will be subject to an assets freeze and visa-ban blacklist.

Mazepin Sr’s presence at a meeting with Putin at the Kremlin on 24 February was cited as a specific example of his links to the war.

The EU statement said Mazepin, along with 36 other businesspeople, “met with President Vladimir Putin and other members of the Russian government to discuss the impact of the course of action in the wake of Western sanctions”.

It added: “The fact that he was invited to attend this meeting shows that he is a member of the closest circle of Vladimir Putin and that he is supporting or implementing actions or policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as well as stability and security in Ukraine.”

The move means Nikita Mazepin would not have been able to take part in a significant number of races for Haas this year, even if the team had not terminated his contract.

Nikita Mazepin claimed at a news conference on Wednesday that there was “no legal reason that could enable the team to terminate my contract”.

He said he had committed to race as a neutral, as permitted by F1’s governing body the FIA, but refused to say whether he approved or disapproved of Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

He also did not answer questions about whether he would have signed a document the FIA requires of all Russian and Belarussian drivers that commits them to comply with decisions made by the FIA on 1 March, when the organisation announced it “condemned” the invasion.

Mazepin said the question was irrelevant because he did not have a contract to race.

Asked whether it was possible for him to be perceived as a neutral athlete in the context of his father’s links to the Kremlin, Mazepin reiterated that the FIA had “ruled that drivers can compete if they are neutral. This I am ready to agree with. And I was ready to consider myself neutral to compete”.

He added: “Formula 1 is not a closed chapter for me. I will be ready to race in case there is an opportunity to return. I wish all the best to the drivers who will replace me. They have nothing to do with the existing situation.”

Video caption, ‘I lost my dream’ – Mazepin on Haas sacking

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