Opinion | Haas bypassed Russia's suspension with Russian livery for Mazepin

04-03-2021 09:10
Opinion | Haas bypassed Russia's suspension with Russian livery for Mazepin

The presentation of the new VF-21 still raises a lot of questions. After the livery of Alpine (the French flag), Haas now also comes with a livery that has the colours of a Russian flag. Remarkable, especially because athletes are not allowed to participate under that flag.

Formula 1 livery

A livery of a Formula 1 team usually reflects the colours of the team and the colours of the sponsor. There are also teams that have been seen with the same colours for years. Think of the red of Ferrari, the silver of Mercedes or the blue/red of Red Bull Racing. This has changed at Alpine and Haas this year.

At Alpine, the change in the livery is understandable. Where it used to be active under the name of Renault with a black/yellow livery, the colour of Alpine has always been blue. Add a little French pride to that, and you suddenly have a French flag in Alpine's car. "I feel proud to be French," said Esteban Ocon, for example.

Russian livery

A livery remains subjective in that regard. One likes it, and the other doesn't like it. A lot of people loved Alpine's livery, but some think it is too much. The same goes for Haas' new "Russian livery". Only this is not about the pride of the team, but about a sponsor.

Ultimately, Haas can of course decide for themselves who gets into the car, but there were already question marks about the arrival of Nikita Mazepin. Billionaire Dmitry Mazepin's son has little to do with rules on and off the track, and after his announcement as a Haas driver, he made negative headlines after posting a video on Instagram.

Mazepin under pressure

Despite all apologies, they are not at all waiting for Mazepin. Of course, this is not the first pay-driver in Formula 1 and he certainly will not be the last, but you do not want such a driver and such a person in the top class of motorsport, do you? However, it now becomes clear why Haas did not push him aside.

The new title sponsor of Haas is Uralkali. A company under Uralchem, where Mazepin is senior majority shareholder and chairman. The company is charging enough because the entire livery is covered in the colours of the Russian flag. 

The fact that a driver can buy into Formula 1 in this way is certainly not new, but it is a problem that F1 needs to look seriously at. The fact that despite the budget cap, money is sought in this way and not the best drivers, says enough about the state of F1. The difference in money between teams is too big and drivers make too little difference as athletes to be of value themselves.

Racing under the Russian flag

So it's not necessarily Mazepin's or Haas's fault. Yes, Haas could make a different choice, but you can't blame them for taking this bag of money. Money, and thus the opportunity to develop your car properly, is much more important than a good driver. And let's face it, the real big names don't join Haas.

Yet there is something else that we can question. Russian athletes are currently not allowed to compete under the Russian flag due to the suspension for Russia as a sports country. Mazepin will therefore not be allowed to race under the Russian flag and will not hear his national anthem when he is on the podium.

Where Alpine is an "innocent" French livery, the Russian livery stands for much more. Mazepin now seems to get away with "racing under the Russian flag". If you ask, a reference will of course be made to the colours of the sponsor, but it remains strange ...

This article was written and originally published by Tim on the Dutch edition of GPblog.com.

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