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Nikita Mazepin: Former Haas Formula 1 driver brands sporting sanctions as 'cancel culture' against Russia

Nikita Mazepin had his contract to drive for Haas in 2022 terminated following Russia's invasion of the Ukraine; the 23-year-old and his father have both been placed on the list of individuals sanctioned by both the UK and the EU

Image: Nikita Mazepin has hit out against sanctions imposed on Russian sportspeople

Former Haas Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin has branded sanctions on Russian sportsmen and women competing in events as "cancel culture against my country".

World motorsport's governing body, the FIA, was among the sporting organisations around the world to take action on limiting the participation of Russian competitors following the country's invasion of Ukraine in February.

Mazepin's contract drive for US-owned Haas was terminated ahead of the 2022 Formula 1 season along with the title sponsorship deal the team had with Uralkali, the company owned by his father Dmitry.

The 23-year-old and his father have been placed on the list of individuals sanctioned by both the UK and EU too, and Mazepin spoke out in an interview with BBC Hardtalk.

"I don't agree with being in the sanctions," Mazepin said. "I've said previously that I intend to fight it.

"Perhaps now is not the right time because if you look at the whole situation that's happening against athletes in the general case, it's cancel culture against my country."

The EU sanctions list describes Dmitry Mazepin as "a member of the closest circle of [Russian president] Vladimir Putin", while Nikita is described as a "person associated with a leading businessperson involved in economic sectors providing a substantial source of revenue to the government of the Russian Federation".

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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says the team can survive without the sponsorship of Russian fertiliser company Uralkali and says the criticism of driver Nikita Mazepin has been unfair.

Under FIA emergency measures issues in the wake of the invasion, any drivers from Russia must agree to a 10-point commitment which includes racing under a neutral flag and not voicing any direct or indirect support for the military action taking place in Ukraine.

Mazepin once again kept his counsel on his views over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, although he admitted the images coming out of the country make for uncomfortable viewing.

"It's very painful to watch that on many levels," Mazepin said.

"My feeling obviously changed as a human being and as a person who wants to live in a very peaceful world.

"But I see tremendous risks in saying anything at all about this case because I will never satisfy everyone and therefore I will keep myself publicly quiet."

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