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Nikita Mazepin free to return to F1 as EU court overrules ban on sacked driver

Nikita Mazepin is free to return to Formula One as a neutral competititor after his ban was overturned by the European Union on Wednesday. The 25-year-old, who hails from Russia, drove for Haas in 2021 before he was sacked the following year amid the war in Ukraine.

The EU added Mazepin to its sanctions list due to his association with his father, Dmitry, an influential businessman. He was claimed to have been the main sponsor of his son’s activities as a racing driver and had been described by the EU as ‘a member of the closest circle’ of Vladimir Putin.

On Wednesday, the general court ruled that Mazepin should be removed from the sanctions list because he is no longer a driver for Haas. It said that keeping him on the list would require the existence of a link going beyond a simple family relationship, which it decided was not the case following his F1 exit.

Mazepin thanked the EU for its ruling in a statement, which read: “I am hugely encouraged by today’s ruling and grateful to the European Court for a fair trial of my case. This is certainly a crucial milestone.”

Mazepin failed to score a single point during his only year in F1 and did not finish a race higher than 14th position. He most recently competed in the Asian Le Mans series under a neutral flag, racing in the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

It remains to be seen if Mazepin will eventually be given a second chance in F1 after two years away from the paddock. The FIA have previously stated that Russian and Belarusian drivers can still take part in competitions but only in a neutral capacity.

Shortly after his sacking by Haas, Mazepin said that his dismissal left him with no ‘trust’ in the team after learning of the news through a press release. He also refused to rule out taking further action against Haas, insisting they had no legal basis to terminate his contract.

“I do not want to be at a team that doesn’t want me,” said Mazepin. “Formula One is a dangerous sport and you have to rely on the team you are working with. It is a question of safety and it is fair to say I don’t have that trust in them.

“It is good to keep all [legal] options open. There was no legal reason that could enable the team to terminate my contract. I was very disappointed with the way it was handled. I was told if the FIA allowed me to compete on their rules, and I agreed to them, there would be no actions to remove me from the seat.

“I have not heard from the team since it happened and I learnt about the firing of me the same time it was released to the press.”

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