Steiner looks back: 'I didn't want to destroy his career'

Steiner looks back: 'I didn't want to destroy his career'

13-03-2023 17:02 Last update: 17:47

In early 2022, Guenter Steiner faced a difficult dilemma. Russia invaded Ukraine, which ultimately meant that his Russian driver Nikita Mazepin was no longer allowed to race for Haas. In an interview with British Inews, the team boss looks back on the tricky situation.

At the time, Haas' title sponsor was Mazepin's father's Russian Uralkali. Due to its ties with President Putin, it was difficult for Haas to retain the title sponsor and driver. After the 2022 winter testing in Barcelona, it was announced that Mazepin would be replaced by Kevin Magnussen.

Steiner on difficult decision

The team boss hoped he would never be in this situation, but tensions between Ukraine and Russia continued to rise. “There was a long run-up to the invasion. As a person, I was hoping they weren’t going to do it. Then one morning, we woke up, and they had invaded Ukraine. I was like, what now?"

Mazepin also drove for Haas in 2021, but did not make a great impression that year. He spun a lot and did not have the speed of his teammate Mick Schumacher. Nevertheless, Mazepin was initially retained for the 2022 season, until the start of the war in Ukraine. It was a tough decision for the team boss. "“I spoke with all the board. I don’t have to tell you what was said. It was obvious. I spoke with the chairman of Uralkali and with Gene, and at night we finished the relationship. We did not know what to do with Nikita at the time because you don’t want to destroy a young man’s career", the Italian told Inews.