Russian former F1 driver Mazepin fighting UK sanctions to revive career

·2-min read

By Sam Tobin

LONDON (Reuters) - Russian former Formula One driver Nikita Mazepin is fighting British sanctions imposed following the invasion of Ukraine in a bid to resurrect his racing career.

Nikita Mazepin was dropped last March by his team Haas, which also severed ties with its title sponsor Uralkali, a Russian fertiliser producer then controlled by his father, Belarus-born oligarch Dmitry Mazepin.

Both were later sanctioned by the European Union – which described Dmitry Mazepin as "a member of the closest circle" of Vladimir Putin – as well as Britain and Canada.

Nikita Mazepin, 24, is trying to overturn the British sanctions so he can negotiate with Formula One teams to return to the sport in 2024.

Britain imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on Mazepin, which his lawyers told London's High Court on Wednesday was preventing him from negotiating with teams.

His lawyer Rachel Scott said Mazepin wanted his challenge heard as a matter of "urgency" because of the need to develop a relationship with team staff before the 2024 season if he is offered a contract.

Mazepin is also challenging EU and Canadian sanctions as part of his attempt to return to Formula One.

Scott said in court filings that Europe's second-highest court temporarily lifted some EU sanctions in March, allowing him to attend a specialist training facility in Italy.

In a witness statement, Mazepin said that "even if – or while – the Canadian sanctions remain in place, there is at least a prospect of me being able to enter into negotiations to return to Formula One if sanctions are lifted in both the EU and UK".

However, lawyers representing Britain's Foreign Office argued that Mazepin could still negotiate with Formula One teams with the sanctions in place.

Another hearing is expected to take place in June to decide whether sanctions can be temporarily lifted pending Mazepin's full challenge, which will be heard in July.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; Editing by Alison Williams and Richard Chang)