• Castor Chan

Why Nikita Mazepin’s Actions Deserve Consequences



As some might say, any publicity is good publicity. But notoriety may not be everyone’s cup of tea, as 2021 Haas driver Nikita Mazepin sent the F1 community into a major upset this week. Mazepin published a video on his public Instagram story, where he filmed what seems to be himself touching another girl without consent. A woman, claiming to the one in the car, has just put out a statement of her own saying that she and Mazepin are friends and it was simply “a silly way of joking between us.” Mazepin has also posted a picture of a written apology across his social media, but with lines like “the fact that it was posted onto social media” (insinuating he was sorry that he was caught) and “hold myself to a higher standard as a Formula 1 driver” (instead of to general morals), people disregarded the statement. Fans flooded social media with hashtags such as #WeSayNoToMazepin and #NikitaMazepinOut, and even a petition has been created to appeal to the FIA about revoking his F1 seat. (As of posting there have been 12,700 signatures and it is still climbing)

This hasn’t been Mazepin’s only controversy either. One Twitter user shared screenshots from past text conversations she had with him, where he is shown to have asked for photos of her and incentivising it with race tickets. He also appeared on another driver’s live stream and implied that he had information to out said driver. Furthermore, he has previously held a race ban for punching a fellow racer in 2016.

Mazepin’s racing talents vary, but has had better seasons recently in the FIA Formula 2 Championship. This year, he finished in 5th for the drivers’ championship with 2 wins and 6 podiums. He was beaten by 2nd place finisher Callum Ilott, who was rumoured to be one of Mazepin’s biggest rivals for the Haas seat. People have also said that he is a risky driver, in particular to an incident that gave him two post-race penalties and four penalty points just last week. The second feature race in Sakhir saw Mazepin collecting a podium, but subsequently drop to P9 for forcing Yuki Tsunoda and Felipe Drugovich off track on two separate occasions. The driver was one penalty point away from the 12 point limit for an automatic race ban, but as it was the last race of the season, there will be no consequences dealt.

If Mazepin’s racing and public image are so controversial, then why was he signed to Haas? (where he will be partnering Mick Schumacher, this season’s F2 champion) The answer pretty much boils down to money. Some consider Mazepin to be a pay driver, which is a term that essentially means a racer who has sponsorships or personal funding to benefit a team’s operations. Haas is a relatively new American team that debuted in 2016, and until now their only drivers have been Esteban Gutiérrez, Romain Grosjean, and Kevin Magnussen, with sponsors such as Jack&Jones, Peak and BlueDef. While it is often shown as entertainment, motorsport is a business industry of its own, and for teams smaller than historical giants like Ferrari and McLaren, money undoubtedly plays a big factor in negotiations and operations. Significant financial backing is crucial in pushing the team’s developments, and the budget cap to be introduced in 2021 would limit the big teams and be a big opportunity for midfield and backmarker teams to narrow the gap.

Of course, most drivers have backing of some sort, whether from companies, national funding or current teams’ junior driver programmes. Such programmes can also offer smoother transitions, for example, Red Bull is often seen to pick within their young driver pool, with big success with racers like Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen. While Mazepin did not have an explicit affiliation to Haas, he is attractive because he has run tests in F1 cars previously for Force India (now Racing Point and slated to be Aston Martin next year) and Mercedes. His father is the billionaire chairman of a Russian chemical manufacturer and has consistently pushed for racing opportunities for his son for a while now. And with Haas’ main objectives being youth and money, Mazepin checks those boxes pretty solidly.

As of now, the general opinion seems to be that he does not deserve the F1 seat and such a public image. While his actions have largely been repulsive, he is relatively young and still has time to reflect and change his actions. Yet his ability to learn does not excuse him from the consequences he should face from his past and current actions. Haas has released a statement on social media expressing their awareness and disapproval, and they are dealing with it internally with no further update as of yet.


 

As a writer I try my best to remain neutral, yet such actions cannot be brushed under the rug. The petition will be linked below, and it is entirely your choice whether or not you sign it. If you liked this article, I would appreciate it if you shared it, thank you.


http://chng.it/HwsVGppkHV


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