Nikita Mazepin was supposed to go racing again on Sunday, like he has 21 times this year, having qualified last, like he almost always does. But Mazepin didn’t go racing after testing positive for Covid, though asymptomatic. It was a strange ending to an almost hopeless season for the Russian.
“Uralkali Haas F1 Team driver Nikita Mazepin has tested positive for COVID-19 at the Yas Marina Circuit ahead of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The team therefore regrets to announce that Nikita will be unable to participate in the race,” Haas said in a statement on Sunday. “Nikita is physically well, having been asymptomatic, but he will now self-isolate and adhere to the guidelines of the relevant public health authorities, with safety the ultimate priority for all parties concerned.”
Mazepin said he was fine.
Which is maybe for the better, given how poorly Mazepin’s rookie Formula 1 season has gone, though surely Mazepin also would’ve liked the opportunity to dig himself out of 21st place, a strange place to be in a 20-driver championship. Robert Kubica, who only raced twice this season, is 20th, having deputized for Kimi Räikkönen in the Netherlands and Italy, and finishing 15th and 14th, respectively, which is better than Mazepin’s best two finishes of the season, which are 14th in Azerbaijan and 17th at six other grands prix.
According to tiebreaking rules, that means Kubica bests Mazepin for the championship, with both having zero points. Perhaps compounding things, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix seems like it would’ve been a pretty good place for Mazepin to maybe finish higher than 15th and climb himself up to 20th, or at least in Abu Dhabi Mazepin’s teammate Mick Schumacher finished a respectable 14th.
But it was not to be, and Mazepin finished what is arguably the worst Formula 1 season ever without a chance. Mazepin will be back next year, in a seat that he doesn’t really deserve, but at this point it’s hard to get too worked up about that. He’s not having fun, anyway, though I’m sure the next season of Formula 1: Drive to Survive will be the best one yet.