British Formula One star George Russell has sent his support to sacked Russian driver Nikita Mazepin following his dismissal by Haas.
Mazepin had been expected to remain with Haas after the FIA confirmed Russian drivers would be allowed to race under a neutral flag although he was banned from the British Grand Prix.
However, Haas confirmed on Saturday that they had cut all ties with title sponsor Uralkali, who are part-owned by Mazepin's father Dmitry, as well as sacking the Russian driver.
The 23-year-old has now confirmed that he has received messages of support from several of his fellow drivers in the days since his dismissal.
Speaking from Moscow for the first time since the new broke, Mazepin revealed: “I appreciated the small number of drivers who expressed their support for me.
“Sergio [Perez], Valtteri [Bottas], Charles [Leclerc] and George [Russell] all contacted me.
“They know how important the situation is, and they showed their support after I lost the opportunity to compete.
“The messages were nothing political but just on a personal level – to keep my head up because athletes have been broken and lives have been destroyed after a decision like that.”
Russell is gearing up for his first season with Mercedes after joining fellow Brit Lewis Hamilton with the team after leaving Williams.
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Mazepin also announced the creation of a foundation called We Compete As One, which will support athletes “forbidden from competing, and collectively punished just because of the passports they hold”.
He was also asked whether he could see himself returning to F1, despite his father's reported links to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“There have been two stages in the decision of allowing Russian drivers to continue," explained Mazepin.
“Firstly an online vote held by the FIA where everyone had a say and they ruled drivers from Russia and Belarus could compete if they are neutral.
“I was ready to agree with this and consider myself neutral.
“When they added an additional letter which I had to sign, I did not look at it because my contract had already been terminated.
“It has been four days since I was sacked and I can say there is nobody out there to protect athletes who end up in this position and I want to be the first one to help.”
Mazepin had been pulled from media duties and Uralkali's branding was removed from his car during testing in Barcelona last month following the Russian invasion.
The next round of testing is set to take place in Bahrain from Thursday to Saturday before the 2022 season starts with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.
Haas have yet to confirm Mazepin's replacement, with Brazilian reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi set to fill the void at testing this week.
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