Fired Russian pilot establishes foundation to help “politically oppressed athletes”

Russian pilot Nikita Mazepin founded a foundation to help “politically oppressed athletes.” He announced this just a few days after the Haas Formula 1 team terminated his contract with him due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“We will help athletes who, for political reasons beyond their control, will not be able to compete at the highest level,” Mazepina was quoted as saying by AFP after today’s online news conference.

After the Russian attack on Ukraine, Haas ended his cooperation with the main sponsor of the team, Uralkali, which is owned by Mazepin’s father. “The money that the Formula 1 team was originally supposed to receive will now be available to the foundation,” said the 23-year-old pilot.

“We will financially and otherwise help athletes who were preparing for the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games or other major events, but then forbade them to start only because of their passport,” Mazepin added.

According to Mazepin, the foundation named “We Compete as One” will help all athletes, regardless of nationality. He will start with the Russian national team, which could not start at the Paralympic Games in Beijing due to the invasion.

Mazepin also admitted that he did not expect an end in Haas. In addition, he was not even notified by team boss Günther Steiner, but by a lawyer. “They didn’t even warn me to say: That’s how we decided, we’ll announce it in fifteen minutes, get ready,” he said.

He wants to return to Formula 1 in the future, but not in Haas. “Formula is a dangerous sport and you have to trust the team you work with. And I don’t think I would believe them anymore,” the Russian pilot added.

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Mazepin did not want to comment on the war in Ukraine, as well as on his father’s alleged close ties to President Vladimir Putin. “Those who were not born there or do not live there see only one part of the conflict,” he said in a prepared statement at the beginning of the conference.

“We who live in Russia or Ukraine know that it is more complicated. I have friends and family who, by coincidence, have found themselves on both sides of the conflict. I have commented on it before and I will not return to it,” he said. Mazepin.

Haas has not yet announced who will replace Mazepina in the upcoming Formula 1 season, which begins next week in Bahrain. However, for the final tests in Sáchir, Haas called in a reserve rider, Pietro Fittipaldi.

Twenty-five-year-old grandson of two-time world champion Emerson Fittipaldi caught up in an injured Romain Grosjean in two races in Haas two years ago.

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