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Russian racing driver loses latest round of fight against sanctions

Nikita Mazepin, who used to race in Formula 1 for Haas, wanted sanctions temporarily relaxed so he could negotiate with UK-based teams.

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Russian racing driver Nikita Mazepin has lost the latest round of a High Court fight with British government ministers after being made subject to sanctions in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Mazepin, 24, used to race in Formula 1 for Haas and is looking for a new team.

He wants sanctions lifted and has taken legal action against Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

A judge is due to oversee a trial on July 19.

Lawyers representing Mr Mazepin on Thursday asked Mr Justice Linden, at a High Court hearing in London, to suspend sanctions in the interim so he could travel to Britain and begin negotiations with Formula 1 teams based in the UK as soon as possible.

The judge dismissed their application.

Government lawyers had said Mr Mazepin’s application for “interim relief” should be refused.

Judges have heard that Mr Mazepin and his father, Dmitry Mazepin – a Russian businessman – had been made subject to sanctions in mid-March 2022.

They have heard how Haas had “terminated its relationship” with Mr Mazepin in early March 2022, following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, and he had not driven for a Formula 1 team since.

Mr Mazepin and his father are “subject to an asset freeze and travel ban”, judges have heard.

Lawyers representing the Government said sanctions were a “key aspect” of Britain’s attempts to “address the situation” in Ukraine.

They raised concern about what the public perception would be if Mr Mazepin’s application was granted.

“The claimant is a relatively prominent public figure and a racing driver,” said the judge.

“I accept … that the perception may arise, at least in some sections of the public, that there are always ways around the UK sanctions regime.”

He said he was “quite satisfied” that the balance of evidence weighed against granting interim relief.

The judge suggested that, in any event, Mr Mazepin would struggle to negotiate a contract with an F1 team until his claim for relief from sanctions had been finally resolved.

Lawyers representing Mr Mazepin argue that he has been sanctioned “only” because he is “his father’s son”.

They told the judge there was no evidence that he supported the Russian regime or Russia’s “actions” in Ukraine – and argued that the sanctions were “unfair” and “draconian”.

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