Updated March 22nd, 2024 at 09:56 IST

EU general court says former F1 driver Nikita Mazepin should be removed from sanctions list

The General Court of the European Union says ex-Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin should be removed from the EU lists of persons subjected to restrictive measures

Haas driver Nikita Mazepin of Russia arrives to the Losail International Circuit in Losail, Qatar ahead of the Qatar Formula One Grand Prix. | Image: AP
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The General Court of the European Union on Wednesday said ex-Formula One driver Nikita Mazepin should be removed from the EU list of persons subjected to restrictive measures for their role in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Mazepin was fired by Formula 1 team Haas soon after Russia’s invasion then was added to the list of people sanctioned by the 27-nation bloc because of his father’s connections to the Kremlin.

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Nikita Mazepin claimed the EU made an error of assessment when he was sanctioned. The court ruled in his favor, saying in a statement “the family connection with his father, Russian businessperson Dmitry Mazepin, is not sufficient for him to be regarded as being linked to his father by common interests and, therefore, for him to be maintained on those lists.”

When it dropped Mazepin, Haas also ended its sponsorship with Uralkali, the Russian fertilizer company then owned by his father. Dmitry Mazepin is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his son’s contract to drive was linked to the team sponsorship.

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The court said since Mazepin has not driven for Haas since March 2022 “the maintaining acts are therefore based, de facto, solely on the family connection, which is not sufficient to maintain his name on the lists of persons subject to restrictive measure.”

The EU has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia since Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine. The measures have targeted the energy sector, banks, the world’s biggest diamond mining company, businesses and markets, and made Russian officials subject to asset freezes and travel bans.

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Two years ago, the EU said Dmitry Mazepin was a member Putin’s “closest circle,” and Nikita was a “natural person” to add to the list because of his connections to his father.

Mazepin’s contract with Haas was terminated by the American-owned team following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Mazepin said he was shocked at losing his Formula One ride and that he would create a foundation to help athletes excluded from competition as a result of Russia’s war.

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At the time, Haas F1 also terminated its contract with sponsor Uralkali.

After the war started, motorsport’s governing body FIA banned Russia from all international events but allowed individual drivers as neutrals without their national symbols, flags, colors and anthems.

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Mazepin has competed in the Asian Le Mans Series since leaving F1, most recently at a race in Dubai last month.

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Published March 22nd, 2024 at 09:56 IST