George Russell stated what he messaged to Nikita Mazepin aftermath his F1 exit, as the Russian driver explains how he felt.
Ever since racing as teammates in F3, Mercedes’ Russell and Mazepin have remained as friends on and off the track. Naturally, he was one of the F1 drivers’ to text him after the Russian lost his Haas seat following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
It was nothing political as both stressed, with Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez being the others to send him a message. “There are was nothing political there,” said Russell when he was asked about his message to Mazepin. “I think all of our views, of what is going on in the world, are absolutely united.
“But obviously for Nikita, I’ve known him personally for a very long time. I was teammates with him. And obviously, regardless of his background, he is a driver who has dreamt of Formula 1 his whole career and reached it.
“And now that dream has disappeared for the obvious reasons. I just said ‘Keep you chin up’, as simple as that. Nothing political in it. Just personal,” summed up Russell. Even before the Brit said his side of things, Mazepin had already acknowledged the support from few drivers when he spoke to media from Moscow to set things straight.
“It was a simple message of support in a situation that I lost the drive,” noted Mazepin. “They know how important the sport is to them, to their lives and they supported me in feeling for me for losing that opportunity to compete in the sport. It was nothing political, it was just a person level ‘keep your head up’ because we have seen in many cases where athletes have been broken and destroyed their lives after decisions like that.
“And I have met some of the guys on holidays, some of the guys you mentioned, we have went for holidays as 15-years-old, so it is more like we have grown up together in the sport and have lived our lives going to the same countries every weekend to compete in similar championships.
“So, it was just what I believe a good human being should do and I definitely could do it for any driver that would end up in a situation like that,” summed up Mazepin, who was visibility upset with how things panned out with Haas even though he had full trust in Guenther Steiner, from whom he was expecting a call to explain things to him.
He stated that he got no intimation from Haas about his seat being in danger after Barcelona and he came to know about their decision as and when the press release from the American F1 team was shared with the world, which is what hurt him even more. Even though he was ready to race as a ‘neutral’ driver, he was only processing the additional letter from the FIA about the ‘sanctions’ put for him or others to race.
“In regards to the support from the team, I do feel like I should have had more because there has been no legal reason that could enable the team to terminate my contract on legal terms,” said Mazepin. “I have explained that I have been very relieved to see that the FIA has allowed athletes to compete on a neutral status.
“And I was hoping, and to be honest, the hope was feeling close, that I will be able to compete. But obviously, 5 March at 1145, Moscow time, things really changed. And I lost my dream, which I was working towards for 18 years of my life. I value relationships a lot. I believe that F1 is a unique sport because it is very much about team building.
“And this chemistry that you have ongoing between your male and female colleagues to get the car in a position where it can do well, and I was very disappointed because the way it was handled. I have been worried about my future ever since I left Barcelona and I have been told that if the FIA or the governing body allows me to compete on their rules, and I agreed to them, there will be no actions to remove me from the seat, because there is no legal obligation or reason to do so.
“In my previous relationships with Guenther, which I rated a very good one and respected him as a man, very much so, I have been used to believe 101% in his words, He’s a team principal, and if he says something it normally happens, or it always happens. I’d like to think I’m a young man at 23, and I was not ready for it. I didn’t receive any hint or any support to say that this is a decision we’ve taken, it’s going to go live in 15 minutes, just be ready for it.
“I obviously had a lot of messages from people, and I just learned at the same time as you guys did,” summed up Mazepin who when asked if about his future options, noted that he is unlikely to go back to Haas considering the team doesn’t want him there and that the trust factor is no longer there for a dangerous sport like F1.
“I would say that it’s good to keep all options available,” said Mazepin. “But I definitely don’t want to go back to a place which doesn’t want me. And as you know, F1 is a dangerous sport. And you have to rely on and believe in the team that you’re working with. It’s a question of safety. And I think it’s fair to say I do not have that trust in them.
Steiner, meanwhile, stated that it wasn’t an easy process behind the scenes and they had to look at different things at a short amount of time. “I think it was more than that it wasn’t as simple as this,” he said to media including FormulaRapida.net. “I mean, it was looking in or trying to look what will happen with the war situation.
“But at some stage we came to a conclusion that not a lot will change, and we need to change because people put pressure onto you as well. I mean, it was understandable pressure because of the affiliation, so that’s what went on, but it is not like you’re sitting there doing just that one, you’re just monitoring and always trying to make the right decision for the company, for the partners, and also what what we want to do for the team,” summed up Steiner.
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