Nikita Mazepin joins Haas as one of three rookies to compete in the 2021 Formula 1 season.
|Full Name||Nikita Dmitryevich Mazepin|
|Date of Birth||2nd March 1999|
|First Race||2021 Bahrain Grand Prix|
Nikita Mazepin was born in Moscow, Russia in March 1999. He is the son of Russian business owner Dimitry Mazepin – a major factor in his presence on the Formula 1 grid. Mazepin’s car racing career began in 2014, competing in the four races of the 2014–15 MRF Challenge Formula 2000 Championship held at Losail International Circuit. He showed promise at the event, finishing as runner-up in the second race of the meeting.
Following appearances in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and the Toyota Racing Series, Mazepin raced in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2016. From the season’s thirty races, Mazepin recorded four top ten finishes – none of those being above eighth place. During the season, according to eyewitnesses, Mazepin assaulted fellow driver Callum Ilott twice after a practice session at the Hungaroring. Illot received facial cuts and a swollen jaw in the Russian’s attacks. Mazepin was handed a one race ban for the incident. He also made appearances at select rounds of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series and the British Formula 3 Championship in 2016.
He continued with the Hitech team in F3 in 2017, where he recorded three podium finishes on his way to tenth in the championship. Mazepin switched to GP3 with ART Grand Prix in 2018, in which he recorded his best season to date – finishing as runner-up in the championship, sixteen points behind Anthoine Hubert. He recorded four wins and a further four podium finishes.
Mazepin moved up to Formula 2 in 2019, remaining with the ART Grand Prix team. Partnering Nyck de Vries, who won the championship, Mazepin never finished above eighth place, and finished eighteenth in the final standings. He continued in F2 in 2020, switching back to the Hitech team – with whom he competed in F3.
Mazepin had a more successful year, recording wins at Silverstone and at Mugello on his way to fifth place in the championship. He crossed the line first in the Feature Race at Spa Francorchamps but picked up a five second penalty for forcing Yuki Tsunoda wide on the penultimate lap. Displeased with the decision, Mazepin drove into the number board in front of his car in parc ferme which then careered into the direction of where Tsunoda was standing. He was handed a five-place suspended grid drop for the incident. Mazepin’s driving standards were called into question over the final round of the season in Bahrain. After forcing Tsunoda into the pit lane exit, Mazepin went on to force the Japanese driver off track altogether. Then, he pulled a similar move on Felipe Drugovich – who had to slow down to avoid being forced into the pit wall by the Russian’s erratic driving. Mazepin was handed handed two five-second time penalties for the offences, costing him a podium finish.
In December 2020, it was confirmed that Mazepin would be driving for Haas in the 2021 season. He joined the team having signed a multi-year contract. A week after the announcement, Mazepin made headlines after uploading a video of himself inappropriately groping a woman on his Instagram account. The incident provoked major backlash from fans of Formula 1, with “#WeSayNoToMazepin” regularly trending on social media. Haas issued a statement labelling the video as “abhorrent”, while Mazepin himself posted an apology before deleting his statement just nine days later. Haas later reaffirmed Mazepin’s position at the team – but questions will remain over both his on-track and off-track actions as he steps up to Formula 1 in 2021.