Formula 1 fans slammed the Haas team after the reveal of their Russian flag-inspired livery for the upcoming 2021 season.
Haas became the eighth of 10 teams competing in the 2021 Formula 1 season to reveal their car for the upcoming record-breaking 23-race campaign when they shared several photos of the Ferrari-powered VF-21 on Thursday.
The new car is set to be driven by rookies Mick Schumacher, the reigning Formula 2 champion, and Nikita Mazepin.
Take a look below.
This livery reveal set social media ablaze, and for several reasons.
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First of all, Haas welcomed Uralkali as the team’s new title partner for the 2021 season. Dmitry Mazepin, Nikita’s father, serves as the majority shareholder and chair of the Russian chemical company.
Nikita has been at the center of multiple controversies throughout his career in racing thus far, most recently in an abhorrent Instagram video he posted in December, yet has yet to face any serious punishment for anything he has done, and everybody knows the reason why. Haas admitted when they signed him that the primary reason for doing so was the financial backing provided by his father, and the sport’s lone American team needed the money to stay afloat.
So when fans called upon Nikita to be fired after the video went viral, especially amid Formula 1’s alleged push for equality and human rights, nothing happened, as expected — even though Mazepin’s past is littered with other incidents both on and off the track, and nothing ever seems to change on his part.
The elder Mazepin has himself been involved in several business controversies of his own over the years, but again, Haas needed the check, and now his company is the team’s new title sponsor with his troubled son behind the wheel of one of their two backmarker cars.
Then there’s the issue that really struck a nerve with a lot of people and added an element to the whole aspect of the sport’s lone American team selling out to whoever is willing to keep them in Formula 1, albeit at the back of the grid.
Back in December, the international sports tribunal CAS reached a verdict in the Russian doping case, which led to Russia not being allowed to participate in sporting events for the next two years.
While the punishment was targeted at keeping the country out of the Olympics, it also prohibits Mazepin from being able compete in Formula 1 under the Russian flag.
Suffice it to say that the new Haas car basically solves that problem for him, as the paint scheme is literally based on the Russian flag.
Take a look at some of the comments on social media.
“Haas F1 Team so much for the ‘American Team’ lost all respect for you totally. Even going back to Rich Energy would have been a smarter thing,” read one remark.
Rich Energy, of course, is the controversial British beverage company which signed a title sponsorship deal with Haas ahead of the 2019 season before a disastrous and somewhat comical sequence of events that summer led to the premature termination of that deal.
Many were skeptical of that deal to begin with, yet Haas went through with it and criticized those who doubted the legitimacy of the partnership. The fact that anybody disgusted by the whole Rich Energy saga would be begging for them to return — and they have hinted a 2021 return — in place of Uralkali says something.
“As an American, I’m so disappointed in this. It seems like we can’t distance ourselves from Russian influence. Haas seems like they’re willing to sell out to anybody just to stay in the sport. Either leave completely or have some sense of pride,” read another comment.
You get the idea. Go on social media and scroll through the comments. Many resemble those two.
Preseason testing is scheduled to take place at Bahrain International Circuit, which is also set to host the season opener, from Friday, March 12 to Sunday, March 14. The Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled to open the season on Sunday, March 28.