Gene Haas has opened up about dropping Uralkali as its F1 title sponsor, while almost confirming Pietro Fitttipaldi for Bahrain test.

Since dropping Uralkali and Nikita Mazepin from his team, G Haas has shared his first thoughts during the NASCAR event in Las Vegas while talking to The Associated Press, where he stated why they were compelled to drop the sponsor.

Ever since signing Uralkali, there has been numerous discussions regarding the Russian sponsor and even Mazepin. With the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, it was the final catalyst needed for them to drop them as they were close to Vladimir Putin.

“There was a lot of intense criticism about the Ukrainian invasion and it was just getting overwhelming,” said Gene. “We can’t deal with all that, our other sponsors can’t deal with all that. Haas has always been the major, primary sponsor, I don’t know why people said it became a Russian team. Haas Automation was always on the car.

“We’re good. We’re fine. We’d like more money, of course, but we’re fine. This just gives us a bigger negative number,” summed up Gene, who stated that ‘Haas Automation’ logos will be present on the car in next week’s Bahrain F1 test as they move away from the colours of Uralkali and the Russian flag as was said all-season long in 2021.

Gene also clarified that Haas has always been the team’s primary sponsor whereas Uralkali were only the title sponsor which F1 outfits usually have. While the finances seems to be settled for now, the decision on Mazepin’s replacement will be the biggest talking point in the coming week and the lead-up to the 2022 F1 season.

Gene seemingly confirmed Fittipaldi to be in the car alongside Mick Schumacher in Bahrain, but hasn’t firmed him as a full-time driver. He noted that they are in talks with several candidates and that he would prefer an experienced campaigner, with the names like Antonio Giovinazzi and Nico Hulkenberg already in the speculation list.

“We’re in the process of looking at several candidates, we’ll see who is available and what we have to deal with, but we’ll have somebody by Wednesday,” said Gene. “Pietro will definitely be in it, that’s what he’s for, he’s the test driver. I think we’re looking. I think we’d obviously like to get someone with a bit more actual experience. We just have to see what’s available.”

Here’s Nikita Mazepin reacting to his axe

Here’s Roman Rusinov refusing to sign FIA declaration

Here’s FIA detailing more on how Russian and Belarus drivers can compete

Here’s Daniil Kvyat urging IOC and FIA

Here’s Guenther Steiner on Haas situation with Uralkali