Steiner ‘sorry’ about ousting Mazepin

Gunther Steiner admits he is “sorry” he had to oust Russian driver Nikita Mazepin from the Haas team.

The Uralkali-backed 23-year-old, who is not ruling out legal action, has been replaced for 2022 by the immediately-impressive former team driver Kevin Magnussen.

Team boss Steiner admits the last couple of weeks have been “exhausting and tedious”.

Indeed, the American team found itself right in the centre of the unprecedented private and public sanctions directed against the Russian government and people.

“The worst should be over now. It can only go up for us now,” Steiner insisted.

“We’re always good for a surprise when there’s drama,” he smiled to RTL.

Steiner confirmed Mazepin’s claim that he didn’t actually speak with Mazepin directly as he informed him that he would not be racing in 2022.

“I did it in writing,” he admitted. “I haven’t spoken to him.”

Mazepin and Uralkali are not ruling out legal action, but both the driver and his father Dmitry were actually personally named in the latest round of EU sanctions against Russia.

“It’s a very complex subject, even for legal experts,” Steiner insists.

“We will lose money for sure but the team is financially stable. You don’t have to worry about the team. That’s the most important thing for me.”

As for whether he sees Mazepin as an innocent victim of the affair, Steiner admits that is “difficult to say”.

“Of course I’m always sorry when you have to do something like that. The external circumstances that neither I nor he can change are just the way they are. You have to live with that and keep going.

“I see it as part of life,” Steiner said.

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