The World Anti-Doping Agency has confirmed they are investigating the circumstances of the new Haas livery for 2021, in light of a court ruling preventing display of the Russian flag. Haas raised some eyebrows on Thursday with their new livery for 2021. The new VF21 will be emblazoned with branding for new title sponsor Uralkali, a Russian potash fertiliser company. The majority shareholder and chairman of Uralkali is Dmitry Mazepin, father of new race driver Nikita Mazepin.
The prominent colours of the livery are white, blue and red – these also being the colours of the Russian flag. On parts of the car, namely the engine cover and front wing, the colours appear to be arranged to display the Russian flag. This is currently not permitted under a ruling made in December by the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS), over a case between the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).
Due to widespread doping violations, RUSADA was not to be compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. This included tampering of laboratory information regarding their athletes from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, during the course of the WADA investigation.
A two year ban on Russian athletes is in effect across top-level sports, with competitors from Russia forced to participate under a neutral classification. The Russian National Anthem is banned from being played, while the Russian flag is also barred from being shown. This applies to representation of the athlete, as well as on their clothing and equipment. The full ruling from CAS can be read here.
While Haas say they cleared the livery design with the FIA prior to the launch, as well as the FIA saying that there has been no breach of the CAS ruling, WADA appear to be less satisfied with the presentation of the car. A short statement from a WADA spokesperson to FormulaSpy said: “WADA is aware of this matter and we are looking into it with the relevant authorities.”
The FIA themselves clarified to FormulaSpy on Wednesday that “The team has clarified the livery with the FIA – the CAS decision does not prohibit the use of the colours of the Russian flag. ”
Team boss Guenther Steiner told media, including FormulaSpy, on Thursday that there had been no attempt to get around the ruling in order to appease their new Russian title sponsor: “[We have] no reason to circumvent anything. We came up with this livery already last year before all this came out from WADA about the Russian flag. Obviously, we cannot use the Russian flag as the Russian flag, but you can use colours, you know, on the car. And it’s the athlete which cannot display the Russian flag and not the team. The team is an American team.”
“We are always in contact with the FIA about things like this, obviously, because it’s part of the job and we worked it with them.”
As part of the F1 deal, Uralkali also unveiled a new corporate logo, although this is marked solely as their ‘F1 logo’ on their website. This new logo is presented in the colours of red, white and blue, a move away from their old logo of green, white and red – the old logo still being presented as their corporate logo on their website. Logically, this would suggest that the argument can be made that Haas are simply displaying the sponsorship colours of their new backer’s F1-specific logo and not the colours of Russia.
The FIA are signatories of WADA’s International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories. This is for the purposes of the enforcement of ‘strong, Code-compliant anti-doping rules and programs are applied and enforced consistently and effectively across all sports and all countries, so that clean athletes can have confidence that there is fair competition on a level playing field, and public confidence in the integrity of sport can be maintained.’ This Code outlines the responsibilities of a governing body like the FIA, as well as the standards expected to be maintained and enforced.