- Hass F1 Team’s new title sponsor, Uralkali, is a fertilizer firm part-owned by Russian Dmitry Mazepin, who is the father of Haas rookie driver Nikita Mazepin.
- The Haas VF-21 livery for 2021 closely resembles the Russian flag. The flag is not allowed to be displayed next to athletes’ names, according to a World Anti-Doping Agency punishment.
- The punishment was handed down for Russia’s manipulation of data during investigations into doping allegations against its athletes.
The Haas F1 Team launched its 2021 plans last week with the news that the fertilizer firm Uralkali is to be its title sponsor. This is no great surprise as the firm is controlled by Russian Dmitry Mazepin, the father of Haas rookie driver Nikita Mazepin.
However, the primary sponsor of the team, if one looks at the space on the car, is still Gene Haas’ Haas Automation, as it has been since the start of the team in 2016.
The livery of the car was, however, very different to last year’s car, and features a significant amount of red, white and blue. And, no, the American-owned team is not waving the American flag in its choice of livery.
Critics were quick to argue that the livery has been designed to display the flag of Russia and to suggest that this has been done to circumvent a ruling by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that Russia, and Russian athletes cannot compete officially in any World Championship sporting events until the end of 2022 and that Russian competitors have to take part as “neutral athletes” and cannot have the Russian flag displayed next to their names.
However, WADA added that the neutral athletes can feature the national colors on their clothing. This was all in punishment for Russia’s manipulation of data during investigations into doping allegations against its athletes.
“We came up with this livery already last year, before the ruling from WADA about the Russian flag,” Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner said. “Obviously, we cannot display the Russian flag but you can use the colors on the car. It’s the athlete which cannot display the Russian flag, not the team. The team is an American team.”
It is perhaps worth noting that there are many other countries also feature red, white and blue as their national colors, including the United States, France, Britain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia Australia, New Zealand, not to mention Norway, Panama, Chile, Cuba and North Korea, among others. It is clear that Uralkali wants a Russian feel to the car, but there is no actual flag.
What’s more interesting about the WADA ban is the question of what will happen with the name of the F1 Russian Grand Prix, which by the letter of the ruling cannot be used under the terms of the ban.
The FIA is a signatory to the WADA agreements, and so must impose any actions decided upon.
America’s F1 team running with a car whose color scheme closely resembles the flag of Russia. This is going to be a fun season. What’s your take? Let us know in the comments section below.
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