Russian racing driver Nikita Dmitryevich Mazepin, 21, was signed by the Haas Formula 1 team a week ago to drive one of its cars for the 2021 season. On December 1st, Mazepin, who finished fifth in the 2020 FIA Formula 2 points standings and won two races, thanked the team for putting its trust in him. One week later, that trust was betrayed, and the reputation of the team, as well as the whole of Formula 1, was put at risk by his actions.
In a video — since deleted — posted to Mazepin’s Instagram stories at approximately 4:30 in the morning local UAE time, the young Russian filmed himself in the passenger seat of a moving car reaching into the back seat to grope a visibly intoxicated woman. The woman tries to block this action and crosses her arms in front of herself to prevent him from doing this.
In an act of self-preservation, Mazepin was doing his best to save face in the cold light of today. A half-assed apology posted to his Twitter account is an attempt to downplay the groping and hope it just goes away. This is, to me, indicative of someone who does not take responsibility for his actions, has not learned anything and is unlikely to change his behavior in the future.
I say this because Mazepin has a long history of not taking responsibility for his actions, not learning anything and not changing his behavior. As Racer.com’s Chris Medland rightly points out, Mazepin has not only been a poor representative of the sport on social media, he’s no better on the racetrack. He’s a hot-head who doesn’t consider the consequences before he acts.
Nikita is the son of Dmitry Mazepin, a Russian chemicals billionaire. Perhaps he has had everything handed to him on the proverbial silver platter, has never been told “no” and has never had to feel harsh consequences, so the younger Mazepin may think it amusing to fondle a young woman without her consent and then post it to social media. Does that sound like the kind of person you’d want representing your sport? Does that sound like the kind of role model you’d want your children watching on TV on a Sunday morning?
Haas issued a statement in the aftermath of all this.
“Haas F1 Team does not condone the behavior of Nikita Mazepin in the video recently posted on his social media,” the statement reads. “Additionally, the very fact the video was posted on social media is also abhorrent to Haas F1 Team. The matter is being dealt with internally and no further comment shall be made at this time.”
His actions were abhorrent, but Haas isn’t going to do anything more about it. Because the team needs the money. Because Mazepin brings solvency to the Haas F1 effort. It’s possible that Mazepin being onboard means the team can afford to bring a name like Mick Schumacher to the team. Haas can’t do anything but distance itself from this, and like Mazepin, hope it goes away.
If Haas does allow this young man to race for the team next season, it will have to own the abhorrence. It will forever be tied to the kid who wasn’t mature enough to keep his fucking hands to himself.
As someone so rightly put on Twitter this morning, if a Formula E driver can be fired for faking his results in a virtual race, a Formula 1 driver can be removed from the sport permanently for sexual assault.