USA's Formula-1 Haas team has released an official statement in connection with the scandal around its Russian pilot Nikita Mazepin. Nikita, the 21-year-old son of Russian billionaire Dmitry Mazepin, who will debut in the "Royal race" next season, posted a video on his Instagram account that captured him groping a woman while driving. Nikita deleted the video very soon afterwards, but the time was enough for the video to go viral on social media. On Reddit, the video received more than 2,000 comments.
"Haas F1 Team does not condone the behaviour of Nikita Mazepin in the video recently posted on his social media. Additionally, the very fact that 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," the statement said.
A petition was created on change.org with a call to deprive Mazepin of his Formula 1 membership to punish him for his predatory sexual behaviour against women, as well as for aggressive style of driving on the track.
The pilot has already apologised for his behaviour:
"I would like to apologise for my recent actions both in terms of my own inappropriate behaviour and the fact that it was posted onto social media. I am sorry for the offence I have rightly caused and to the embarrassment I have brought to Haas F1 Team. I have to hold myself to a higher standard as a Formula 1 driver and I acknowledge I have let myself and many people down. I promise I will learn from this," Nikita Mazepin tweeted.
Interestingly, the woman in the video defended Mazepin after the scandal erupted. According to her, she uploaded the clip to Instagram as a "joke" and didn't mean to get Mazepin involved in any trouble.
"Hi guys, I just want to let you know Nikita and I have been good friends for a long time and nothing from that video was serious at all!" she wrote. "We trust each other so much and this was a silly way of joking between us. I posted this video on his story as an internal joke. I am truly sorry. I can give you my word he's a really good person and he would never do anything to hurt me or humiliate me."
In the beginning of December 2020, USA's F1 Haas Team announced a contract with Russian racer Nikita Mazepin, who is to debut as a combat pilot for the Royal Race in 2021. The terms of the agreement with the 21-year-old son of Uralkali owner Dmitry Mazepin were not announced, but it was said that it goes about a multi-year contract.
Haas decided to completely renew its drivers - Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will leave the team after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Mazepin's partner for the 2021 season could be Ferrari Academy pilot Mick Schumacher, the son of the legendary German pilot Michael Schumacher.
Mazepin will thus become the fourth prize-winning Formula 1 driver from Russia. The list of drivers included:
Russian billionaire of Belarusian origin Dmitry Mazepin, whose fortune is estimated by Forbes magazine at $1.3 billion, has repeatedly tried to find a place for his son at the royal race. It was reported that Nikita Mazepin was disappointed after F1 fans complained that his success at F1 was due to his father's money.
"Is it a shame that many people associate my success with my father's wealth?" Nikita Mazepin told the Russian broadcaster RBK. "Why should I be offended to read that my father is a successful, intelligent, purposeful person? Of course I am not offended. There is some frustration that people associate my success with my father's money, but I'm confident in myself. I see my results. And I don't think much about these sorts of discussions. I'll just do my job," Mazepin added.