Haas team boss Guenther Steiner insists his side’s new livery for the 2021 Formula 1 season was not designed with the intention of circumventing restrictions on the use of the Russian flag in sports.

After a ban on Russia competing at world championship sporting events was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in December, the FIA received clarifications that confirmed no driver competing in the governing body’s world championships could race under the Russian flag.

The timing of the decision prevents F1 rookie Nikita Mazepin from competing under the Russian flag in the championship for the next two seasons, however the use of the colours of the country’s flag is still permitted.

Speaking to media after Haas unveiled a new Russian-themed livery and title sponsor for the 2021 season, Steiner confirmed that the new colour scheme had been created and agreed on prior to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s ruling.

“No, we didn’t circumvent anything,” Steiner explained. “We came up with this livery already last year, before the ruling from Wada about the Russian flag.

“Obviously, we cannot display the Russian flag as the Russian flag but you can use the colors on the car. In the end, it’s the athlete which cannot display the Russian flag, not the team. The team is an American team.”

Asked whether Haas presented the livery to the FIA for approval, Steiner replied: “You’re always in contact with the FIA about things like this, it’s part of the job, so we walked it through with them.

“But I don’t think they can approve it, because it’s a Wada’s rule, not an FIA rule.”

Steiner stressed that the enhanced Russian presence in the team in the shape of new backers Uralkali, who is connected to Mazepin via his father Dmitry, is not a sign that the team is shifting away from its American roots.

“No I wouldn’t say that one,” he said. “We pushed down as I explained a few times last year on a commercial avenue.

“We have got something to sell - sponsorship - and we need to do that. That is our way forward and I don’t think it has got anything to do at the moment with nationality.”

Mazepin, whose maiden F1 season has already been overshadowed by his controversial actions late last year, said discussions are ongoing over whether which flag he will race under.

“I really like the livery - I think the design is great,” Mazepin said.

“It’s very unfortunate that the year that I have achieved my goal that this has happened. It’s not for me to judge or decide in any way.

“Currently, I am still in a discussion on how I will be classified. There’s no decision yet.”

 

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