Doubts over whether Mazepin would continue to race in F1 for a second season were raised during the opening pre-season test in Barcelona following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to invade Ukraine has been met with widespread condemnation, while Western countries have responded by imposing major economic sanctions on Russia. 

Haas dropped title sponsor Uralkali and its Russian-themed colours from its car for the final day of testing in Barcelona as it ran a plain white livery. Uralkali is co-owned by Mazepin’s father Dmitry, who has close ties to Putin. 

After mounting pressure to act, Haas announced on Saturday morning that it had terminated Mazepin's contract and split from Uralkali with immediate effect. 

Here is a list of potential candidates who could fill the void at Haas…

Pietro Fittipaldi 

Pietro Fittipadli appears to be the most likely option to replace Mazepin given that the Brazilian is already embedded in the Haas team as its reserve driver. 

Certainly as a short-term replacement, Fittipaldi would be a viable solution and Steiner has already stated that the grandson of two-time F1 world champion Emerson would be first in line to receive a call to step in for Mazepin. 

“If Nikita couldn’t drive for one or another reason, the first call would go to Pietro,” said Steiner. 

“He knows the team, he knows the car to jump in for one day to the other. There is nobody better than Pietro around at the moment.”

The 25-year-old has already made two F1 starts with Haas at the end of 2020 in Sakhir and Abu Dhabi when he deputised for Romain Grosjean as the Frenchman recovered from the injuries he sustained in his horrific fireball crash in the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

Antonio Giovinazzi 

Could Antonio Giovinazzi be provided with an unexpected F1 lifeline? 

The 27 year-old Italian lost his Alfa Romeo seat to Formula 2 graduate Guanyu Zhou for 2022 and subsequently secured a switch to Formula E with Dragon. 

Giovinazzi enjoyed his best F1 season to date in 2021 and can be considered unfortunate to miss out on a spot on the 2022 grid. Not only does he have links to Haas through his ties to Ferrari, but Giovinazzi also boasts the most recent grand prix experience of any driver that could be available to Haas. 

He would be an attractive option for Haas and Giovinazzi would likely jump at the opportunity to return to F1 so soon, particularly when Dragon looks like it could be in for a difficult campaign towards the back of the FE grid. 

Getting Giovinazzi out of his contract with Dragon could prove to be the biggest hurdle if such an opportunity was to arrive. 

Nico Hulkenberg 

If experience is what Haas is looking for, then there are few better options on the market than Nico Hulkenberg. 

Hulkenberg has 179 grand prix starts to his name since making his F1 debut with Williams in 2010 but has not raced full-time in the world championship since losing his Renault seat at the end of 2019. 

The German impressed during three cameo outings for Racing Point in the 2020 season when regular drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll were ruled out with COVID-19. 

Hulkenberg has remained close to the F1 paddock by carrying out a reserve driver role for Aston Martin but has conceded that his grand prix career is effectively over. 

But Hulkenberg could find himself with a last chance saloon in F1 if Haas cut ties with Mazepin. 

Oscar Piastri 

Many feel that Oscar Piastri should already be on the F1 grid after storming to back-to-back titles in Formula 3 and Formula 2 over the past two years. 

However, with a lack of seats available, the 20-year-old Australian sensation has been forced to sit on the sidelines as Alpine’s reserve driver for the 2022 campaign. 

Alpine may be willing to sanction a one-year deal in order to get Piastri on the F1 grid and assess how he fares ahead of a potential promotion to the French outfit in 2023. Haas would provide Piastri with valuable experience in a low-pressure environment to find his feet. 

Haas had no qualms about running an all-rookie driver pairing in 2021 and Piatsri would form an exciting and talented line-up alongside fellow F2 champion Mick Schumacher. 

Kevin Magnussen 

Probably the most unlikely option on this list, but Kevin Magnussen would be another candidate who would bring vast experience to Haas’ line-up. 

Magnussen is no stranger to the American outfit after driving for the team between 2017 and 2020 and being its stand-out performer during much of that period alongside Grosjean. 

Despite his displays, Magnussen was ultimately booted out in favour of the money Mazepin and Uralkali were bringing to the team. The Dane could not compete with such funding and was forced out of F1. 

While a return to F1 may be tempting for Magnussen, he has already committed to Peugeot’s long-awaited Le Mans 24 Hours return and World Endurance Championship assault in 2022.