APRIL 14, 2022

F1 on pause as Mazepin eyes off-road rallies

Nikita Mazepin says he may keep his motor racing career alive in off-road rallying.

Nikita Mazepin, Bahrain GP 2021
© Haas F1 Team / LAT

Nikita Mazepin says he may keep his motor racing career alive in off-road rallying.

The Russian suddenly lost his Formula 1 seat amid the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war, when Haas responded to the international sanctions frenzy and also cut ties with title sponsor Uralkali.

"Everything would be the same still if the invasion wouldn't have happened," team boss Gunther Steiner says.

"We really tried to make this thing work. But when you saw the media pictures of people just being bombed and shot at, this wasn't going to work."

Mazepin, 23, and his billionaire oligarch father Dmitry have also had a EUR 100 million Sardinian property seized by Italian authorities.

"My career is on pause," the Russian driver told Ria Novosti news agency on Wednesday.

"But I have been involved in motorsport for 18 years and I am not going to just leave it. I am keeping myself in shape and hope I will return to Formula 1.

"If it doesn't work out, I will consider other options for racing on four wheels. I'm interested in racing in the desert. Dakar is possible. And the Silk Way rally."

Until then, he says he is "positive" and working "five days a week" on a new foundation supporting other Russian athletes struggling under the Western sanctions.

"My life has changed dramatically in just one month," Mazepin said. "And there are still many months before the end of the year. Can you imagine how much more can happen and change?

"But I do intend to continue my career. So far I'm aiming at competitions within Russia to a greater extent.

"I truly believe that all bad things in life have a beginning and an end. And the end of this bad phase will come.

"I have more than one helmet so I hope to return to Formula 1," he concluded.