Axed Haas sponsor Uralkali demands refund


Haas's former title sponsor has demanded a refund from the team, saying it intends to invest the money in a new foundation set up by Nikita Mazepin

Nikita Mazepin in Haas overalls

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Uralkali, the Russian fertiliser company which Haas has recently axed as title sponsor, has demanded a refund of its investment from the US team, saying it has already paid most of its sponsorship.

The potash firm, which was owned by Dimitri Mazepin, father of Haas’s now-sacked driver Nikita, has also threatened legal action, saying it reserves its right to “seek repayment of the significant amounts Uralkali had paid for the 2022 Formula 1 season.”

Mazepin said that he would use the money to support athletes who are banned from competing due to international sanctions.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Haas made the decision to terminate the contract of both driver and sponsor, saying that it felt the association with a Russian company was untenable. The situation was compounded by the fact Dmitri is a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, the two holding a “working meeting” as recently as January.

“The company views the team’s decision as unreasonable and believes that sports should always be free of politics and pressure from external factors,” a Uralkali statement said.

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“Uralkali intends to protect its interests in line with applicable legal procedures and reserves its rights to initiate judicial proceedings, claim damages and seek repayment of the significant amounts Uralkali had paid for the 2022 Formula 1 season.

“As most of the sponsorship funding for the 2022 season has already been transferred to Haas and given that the Team terminated the sponsorship agreement before the first race of the 2022 season, Haas has thus failed to perform its obligations to Uralkali for this year’s season. Uralkali shall request the immediate reimbursement of the amounts received by Haas. The refund from Haas and the remaining part of Uralkali’s sponsor financing for 2022 will be used to establish the We Compete As One athlete support foundation.”

In a press conference earlier today, Nikita Mazepin announced “We Compete As One” as a foundation to support athletes who are prohibited from participating in international sport events based on their nationality.

Pietro Fittipaldi will take over the testing duties for Haas tomorrow in Bahrain, with the team’s running put back to the afternoon due to a freight delay.

Rumoured to be front-running for Haas’s second race seat are Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi and Nico Hülkenberg.