Russian company Uralkali has asked Formula 1 team Haas for a refund after its contract with driver Nikita Mazepin was terminated ahead of the 2022 season.
Uralkali, posing as Haas’ main sponsor despite the team’s announcement last weekend that the deal had been called off amid fallout from Russia’s war on Ukraine, described him as a “unilateral termination”.
In a statement, Uralkali said it “intends to protect its interests in accordance with applicable legal procedures and reserves the right to take legal action, claim damages and seek reimbursement of substantial sums. “which he claims to have paid for the 2022 season.
The company is a subsidiary of Uralchem, owned by Mazepin’s father, Dmitry.
Uralkali’s statement said Haas’ decision to terminate the agreement was “unreasonable” and that the company “believes that sport should always be free from politics and pressure from external factors”.
According to Uralkali, “most” of his sponsorship had already gone to Haas.
He alleges that Haas has “thus breached his obligations to Uralkali for this year’s season”.
Consequently, Uralkali must request the “immediate reimbursement of the sums collected by Haas”.
He adds: “The reimbursement from Haas and the remaining part of Uralkali’s sponsor funding for 2022 will be used to establish the We Compete As One athlete support foundation.”
According to Nikita Mazepin, who spoke to Russian media on Wednesday morning, it will be to help athletes who cannot compete for “political reasons”.
Mazepin says they have “been collectively punished just for the passports they hold” and the Russian Paralympic team will be the first case to benefit.
He added that they will receive help finding a job, legal aid and psychological help “to deal with the feeling of loss and emptiness”.
Uralkali’s sponsorship was responsible for Mazepin’s place in the team, but that presence became untenable for Haas amid the international fallout from Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which the owner says team, Gene Haas, unleashed “a lot of intense criticism” that was becoming “overwhelming” for the team. and its other sponsors.
However, as The Race reported last week, the size of Uralkali’s contribution to Haas’ operating budget would have been overstated and Uralkali’s exit does not pose a risk to the team’s future.
Haas himself is immensely wealthy but has been reluctant to spend more money on his team in recent years until F1 made changes to distribute the wealth more evenly across the grid and close the gap between the most great teams.
He is able to bridge any funding shortfall of Uralkali and also able to repay Uralkali if needed.
As the decision to part ways with Uralkali would have been made knowing that Uralkali might sue or be liable for reimbursement, it is likely that Haas would have anticipated such a response.
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