Danish driver Kevin Magnussen has sealed a surprise Formula One comeback with Haas after signing a multi-year deal to replace sacked Russian driver Nikita Mazepin
The 29-year-old, who has 119 grand prix starts to his credit, raced with the Ferrari-powered team from 2017 to 2020 and will partner German Mick Schumacher, son of seven-times world champion Michael.
Mazepin’s contract was terminated last week after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The season starts in Bahrain on March 20 after a final three-day test this week.
“When looking for a driver who could bring value to the team, not to mention a wealth of Formula One experience, Kevin was a straightforward decision for us,” said team boss Guenther Steiner on Wednesday.
“Kevin’s immediate availability means we can tap into him as a resource for pre-season testing alongside both Mick Schumacher and (reserve) Pietro Fittipaldi.”
Brazilian Fittipaldi, the grandson of two-time world champion Emerson, will do half a day in the car on Thursday before handing over to Magnussen and Schumacher.
Magnussen started out in Formula One with McLaren in 2014, finishing second on his debut in Australia.
He sat out 2015 as team reserve and raced for Renault in 2016 before switching to Haas where his best result was fifth place in Bahrain and Austria in 2018.
“I was obviously very surprised but equally very excited to receive the call,” said the Dane.
The US-owned team severed ties last week with Mazepin, 23, and title sponsor Uralkali, co-owned by his billionaire father Dmitry, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Mazepin said he and Russian potash company Uralkali were considering legal action.
Naming the end of his contract “unfair,” Mazepin told reporters while he had no intention to return to Haas it was still “good to keep all options open” which includes a lawsuit.
Mazepin also said he will launch a foundation to support athletes unable to compete due to war or politics. He said the “We Compete as One” foundation would be funded by Uralkali using money that would have gone to Haas.
Uralkali said separately it had already paid most of the now-terminated 2022 title sponsorship to Haas and would be seeking immediate repayment while also reserving the right to claim damages.
Mazepin said there had been no contact with his former bosses or former teammate Schumacher.
“In situations like this you can see the true face of everybody around you,” said the Russian, who had several moments of tension with his teammate last year after being out-performed by the German.
Others, including Mercedes’ George Russell and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, had sent “very simple” personal messages of support, he added.
Mazepin said he had not given up his dreams of competing in Formula One, would stay in race condition ready for any opportunity, and had no plan to seek a licence from another country.
The foundation, whose name echoes F1’s “We Race as One” initiative to promote diversity and equal rights, would start by helping Russian Paralympic athletes sent home from the Beijing Games, said Mazepin.